The Pequod Review:
Rory Stewart's The Places in Between is an extraordinarily observant work of travel reportage, a memoir that covers the 36-day walk that Stewart took in 2002 across the entire country of Afghanistan. Stewart's journey was a dangerous one; it was undertaken shortly after 9/11 — just as the US was invading Afghanistan — and his trek from west to east took him through some of the most violent and unsettled places in the world. The best parts of Stewart's story explore the rich cultural history of the region and the day-to-day lives of villagers, but the book has wider political implications too. The futility of the American nation-building project in Afghanistan becomes all too clear, as Stewart witnesses a succession of impoverished villages that have nothing in common with one another — culturally, historically, or politically. The thought that these disparate populations could ever have been brought together into something resembling a nation-state is far-fetched to say the least.