Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, By Suraya Sadeed (with Damien Lewis)

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The Independent Culture

In the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Suraya Sadeed and her husband, Dastagir, left Kabul for the United States, where they started a new life. But after Dastagir succumbed to a heart attack in 1993, Suraya decided to return, creating a charity – Help the Afghan Children (HTAC) – to help those affected by war, and later, underground schools that flouted the Taliban's laws to educate girls.

This memoir is a brisk account of Sadeed's work in Afghanistan, which she has managed to sustain throughout the past decade of invasion and war. She concludes by appraising her country's prospects for the future with a hard-won and salutary wisdom: "We can do so much more to defeat the blind prejudices of the hard-line Taliban with education than we ever will achieve with military muscle alone."