The places in between rory stewart epub books
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. the range of relationships from the friends-to-lovers romance between Belle and Rory. In The Places in Between, Rory Stewart walked some of the most dangerous borderlands in the world. Now he travels with his eighty-nine-year-old father—a. WATERSTONES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH OCTOBER estates they uncover a forgotten country crushed between England and Scotland: the Middleland. 1 DOLLAR BOX TRIFECTA BETTING
A culture that chases success does not devote much attention to failure, loss, or death. Consolation is for losers. Consolation used to be a subject for philosophy, because philosophy was understood to be the discipline that taught us how to live and die. Consolatio was a genre unto itself in the Stoic traditions of the ancient world. Cicero was a master of the art.
Seneca wrote three famous letters to console grieving widows. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, wrote his Meditations essentially to console himself. A Roman senator, Boethius, wrote The Consolation of Philosophy while awaiting a death sentence at the hands of a barbarian king in AD These texts still linger on in humanities courses for undergraduates, but professional philosophy has left them behind.
Consolation has also lost its institutional setting. The churches, synagogues, and mosques, where we once consoled each other in collective rituals of grief and mourning, have been emptying out. If we seek help in times of misery, we seek it alone, from each other, and from therapeutic professionals. They treat our suffering as an illness from which we need to recover. Yet when suffering becomes understood as an illness with a cure, something is lost.
The religious traditions of consolation were able to situate individual suffering within a wider frame and to offer a grieving person an account of where an individual life fit into a divine or cosmic plan. This is the wider frame in which the great languages of consolation offered hope. Such frames remain available to us even now: the Jewish God who demands obedience but whose covenant with his people promises that he will protect us; the Christian God who so loved the world that he sacrificed his own son and offered us the hope of eternal life; classical Roman Stoics who promised that life would hurt less if we could learn how to renounce the vanity of human wishes.
More influential today is the tradition that takes shape in the work of Montaigne and Hume, who questioned whether we could ever discern any grand meaning for our suffering. These thinkers also gave voice to a passionate belief that religious faith had missed the most crucial source of consolation of all. The meaning of life was not to be found in the promise of paradise, nor in the mastery of the appetites, but in living to the full every day.
Both ancients and moderns did share a sense of the tragic. Both accepted that there are some losses that are irremediable; some experiences from which we cannot fully recover; some scars that heal but do not fade. The challenge of consolation in our times is to endure tragedy, even when we cannot find a meaning for it, and to continue living in hope.
To live in hope, these days, may require a saving skepticism toward the drumbeat of doom-laden narratives that reach us from every media portal. Publick affairs vex no man, Sir. I have never slept an hour less nor eat an ounce less meat. If it was cant in to lose sleep over the loss of America, it would be cant, in our times, to let our own resilience buckle before the tide of public commentary that predicts environmental Armageddon, democratic collapse, or a future blighted by new plagues.
None of these challenges, as daunting as they are, are made easier to overcome by believing they are unprecedented. In this book we will encounter men and women who lived through plague, the collapse of republican freedom, campaigns of mass extermination, enemy occupation, and catastrophic military defeat. Their stories set our times in context and enable us to draw inspiration from their lucidity.
To see ourselves in the light of history is to restore our connection to the consolations of our ancestors and to discover our kinship with their experience. We will be astonished when we do. But why should we be required to pass a test of belief before we can derive consolation from religious texts?
The religious promise of salvation and redemption might be closed to us, but not the consolation that comes from the understanding that religious texts can offer for our moments of despair. The Psalms are among the most eloquent documents in any language of what it is to feel bereft, alone and lost. They contain unforgettable descriptions of despair as well as exalted visions of hope. We can still respond to their promise of hope because the Psalms recognize what we need hope for.
This is why, even at this hour, someone, somewhere, is picking up the Gideon Bible in a hotel room and reading the Psalms, and why, as I discovered in the choral festival in Utrecht where this project began, when music and words come together, they hold out a promise of hope that makes our unbelief somehow irrelevant.
I also had students who were refugees from Afghanistan when I was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Turkmenistan. I knew the culture and history well, and had always wanted to go. So I got on a plane in Almaty, and I went. I got stuck in Baku, Azerbaijan for three days along the way, and then we flew into Kabul in an old Soviet plane, in a fog with the airport control tower out, but that journey is another story.
That year was a transitional year in Afghanistan. The initial American war had ended, but the Taliban had just begun to use suicide bombing as a technique, and the insurgency was about to begin in full force. There was a winter lull in the fighting, due to the mountain passes being closed by snow. Our little, underfunded operation had no real security, and nobody to tell us what we could and could not do.
We did whatever we wanted to: We walked the streets of Kabul at night to get pizza, and we drove to Bamyan and to Jalalabad on recruiting trips to interview high school students with our Pashtun driver and our Tajik recruiting assistant in an old Soviet Lada. We wandered around the shattered buildings of the former Soviet Embassy, ate at local kebab houses, went shopping in local bazaars.
The bazaars were full of the history of Afghan resistance to colonial occupation: British Enfield rifles likely dropped by the retreating army in which only one military man survived , as well as Soviet equipment, black and white photographs, U. Army surplus, discarded pocket and wrist watches—a strange assortment of detritus left behind by layer after layer of occupying forces. I even found a copy of Where the Wild Things Are among the debris. And of course, I had so many conversations with the people of Afghanistan.
I was there to recruit for exchange programs, so my main job was talking to people. I was able to meet dozens, maybe hundreds, of students and teachers and aid workers and other people. A few years later, in and , I was living in Tajikistan, and had a chance to travel also for recruiting to the Pamir Plateau and the Wakhan Corridor. There I met Kyrgyz shepherds still living as nomads, and Badakhshanis from both sides of the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. I also visited, on that trip and others, dozens of animist altars scattered across the Pamir Plateau and the Wakhan.
When I start thinking about it, really, there were so many threads—too many to list here. That is one of the joys of being a writer: you weave your stories from your life experience and what you read, and the stories others tell you. The warp and weft of a story can mesh slowly in the mind over years or emerge almost spontaneously. In this case, it was a slow process. What made you decide to write this in epistolary format?
Was this the first form you decided to go with for this story? It was. In those days, they loved framing devices—found manuscripts, sheaves of letters. I chose this framing device my finding the letters at the Bagram Air Base bazaar because it allowed me to link the story to the present day. The epistolary style gave me a chance to give the narrator and protagonist, M, full narrative control and a strong voice.
I began to feel, as I wrote, that she was very much a real person, someone I had a responsibility to. I wanted to make my readers feel her presence, and hear the story in her voice. The letters allowed me to do that. What really impressed me though, is your work as a Foreign Service Officer and the many languages you speak, including Russian and Albanian. You sort of sound like a spy. Tell us about your work and how it informs your writing.
Nothing will convince them otherwise. The truth is, though, I would never want to be a spy. My real job is much more fulfilling. Instead of sneaking around, I get to go out and talk to people from all walks of life.
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This didn't impress me much at first, when he begins it I wasn't hearing much about Afghanistan I didn't know. But certainly by the time I got a third way through I was much more impressed. He had a gift for vividly describing the people and the landscape.
I have to admit, I found heart-breaking to read how dogs are treated in Afghanistan. It's said Muhammad once cut off part of his own garment rather than disturb a sleeping cat. Unfortunately, he didn't feel equal affection for dogs, and they're "religiously polluting. A quarter of the way in his journey Stewart has a toothless mastiff pressed upon him by a villager and he named him Babur. The evidence of past abuse could be seen in missing ears and tail, and someone told Stewart the dog was missing teeth because they'd been knocked out by a boy with rocks.
Stewart found the dog a faithful companion and said he'd call him "beautiful, wise, and friendly" but that an Afghan, though he might use such terms to describe a horse or hawk would never use it to describe a dog. Then there was how Afghanistan's precious historical and cultural legacy was being destroyed. If you're taking your donkey to high altitudes, slice open its nostrils to allow greater oxygen flow. Don't carry detailed maps, since they tend to suggest affinities. If, finally, you're determined to do something as recklessly stupid as walk across a war zone, your surest bet to quash all the inevitable criticism is to write a flat-out masterpiece.
Stewart did. Stewart has. The Places in Between is, in very nearly every sense, too good to be true. He lives in Scotland. Reviews of The Places in Between There are no reviews yet.
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