28 September, 2020

Frontier Rugs

Through the magical metaphor of carpets, Kremmer does a fine job of chronicling the decline of a once-fabled region.

Frontier Rugs
Let me put my cards on the table and begin by confessing to a tinge of jealousy. With the exception of Balkh and Tajikistan, I have reported from all the ‘exotic’ places Christopher Kremmer has written about: Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Peshawar, Kashmir, Iran and Iraq. But when I look at my notebooks full of barely legible, now obscure political details with a shelf-life of a few newspaper stories, I can only marvel at the meticulous manner in which Kremmer documented every waking moment he spent on assignment.

Loosely woven around the Australian-born author’s passion for carpets, the book is actually an immensely readable account of the contemporary political history of South-Central Asia. In between, readers get more than a glimpse of the practical difficulties journalists encounter, in unfamiliar places dealing with unhelpful officials. At the Jordan-Iraq border at Trebil—a crossing I made in March ’98 with almost the same disastrous consequences—Kremmer describes the manner in which officials wanted to administer an aids test with "a gargantuan syringe of...



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