An Afghanistan Picture Show by William T. Vollmann
Or, How I Saved the World

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As you read it, you get a sense of a particular situation, but at the same time the book doesn’t date, even though the situation does. It’s still interesting reading in the same way Thucydides’s history of the Peloponnesian Wars is.
-LA Times

Synopsis

Never before available in paperback and all but invisible for twenty years, a personal account of the origins of America's longest war.

In 1982, the young William Vollmann worked odd jobs, including as a secretary at an insurance company, until he'd saved up enough money to go to Afghanistan, where he wanted to join the mujahedeen to fight the Soviets. The resulting book wasn't published until 1992, and Library Journal wrote: "The wrong book written at the wrong time. . . . With the situation in Afghanistan rapidly heading toward resolution . . . libraries may safely skip this."

Thirty years later--and with the United States still mired in the longest war of its history--it's time for a reassessment of Vollmann's heartfelt tale of idealism and its terrifying betrayals.

An alloy of documentary and autobiographical elements characteristic of Vollmann's later nonfiction, An Afghanistan Picture Show is not a work of conventional reportage; instead, it's an account of a subtle and stubborn consciousness grappling with the limits of will and idealism imposed by violence and chaos.
 

About William T. Vollmann

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William T. Vollmann is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. His 1996 story collection, The Atlas, won the PEN Center USA/West Award for best fiction and he was the recipient of a 1988 Whiting Writers Award. VollmannÂ's journalism has been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harpers, Granta, Grand Street, and Outside Magazine.
 
Published July 9, 2013 by Melville House. 281 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs, War. Non-fiction
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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by David L. Ulin on Jul 23 2013

As you read it, you get a sense of a particular situation, but at the same time the book doesn’t date, even though the situation does. It’s still interesting reading in the same way Thucydides’s history of the Peloponnesian Wars is.

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