The Places in Between Audiobook | Rory Stewart | Audible.com
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The Places in Between | [Rory Stewart]

The Places in Between

In January 2002, Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan, surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day, he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Imagine a stout-hearted adventurer weaving a magical tale by the campfire, and you'll get a sense of Rory Stewart's account of his solo walk across Afghanistan. Full of memorable characters, evocative settings, visceral danger, and valuable insight. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

In January 2002, Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan, surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day, he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past. Along the way Stewart met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders, and foreign-aid workers. He was also adopted by an unexpected companion: a retired fighting mastiff he named Babur in honor of Afghanistan's first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair was following. Through these encounters, by turns touching, confounding, surprising, and funny, Stewart makes tangible the forces of tradition, ideology, and allegiance that shape life in the map's countless "places in between".

©2006 Rory Stewart; (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC

What the Critics Say

"An engrossing, surprising, and often deeply moving portrait of the land and the peoples who inhabit it." (Booklist)
"The well-oiled apparatus of his writing mimics a dispassionate camera shutter in its precision." (Publishers Weekly)
"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 New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (370 )
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4.1 (87 )
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4.1 (87 )
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  •  
    James Bethesda, MD, United States 08-09-07
    James Bethesda, MD, United States 08-09-07 Member Since 2003
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    "Nice Choice"

    This book provides a glimpse into a deeply foreign culture almost all of us will never see or penetrate otherwise. Afghanistan may be a desperately poor, largely illiterate country, but that doesn't tell the whole story. If you want to learn a little more about the complexity of modern Afghanistan, Rory Stuart is a good guide. He's not an apologist for the Taliban or some kind of latter day neo-colonialist, he generally just tells his story straight and lets you draw your own conclusions. Nor is this some incredible adventure story filled with narrow escapes and tales of daring do. Stuart knows he is doing something incredibly dangerous but is very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, even when he comes close to getting killed.

    The perspective is somewhat unusual, in that he's walking from village to village, and in each spot he picks up little bits of the culture and the people and shares them as he goes. So the picture that emerges is never fully formed, not completely linear or organized. He doesn't pre-digest and organize everything for you. Yet somehow by the end of the book, you feel as though you've learned something of the place and its people, something you could have only learned through his unique perspective.

    Read by the author himself and he does a nice job with it.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Baby Houston, TX, USA 02-13-07
    Baby Houston, TX, USA 02-13-07
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    "A Captivating Story"

    This book recounts Rory Stewart's experiences walking across Afghanistan. Stewart has a subtle, understated style, and his reading perfectly matches the tone of his book. I was totally absorbed by the tale, learning of his travails as he traveled from one poor village to another, totally depending on the kindness of strangers. He gives a very even-handed account of Afghans, and a glimpse of the almost alien (to most Westerners) culture the people are steeped in. Along the way he points out that unless actual people are engaged, any effort to introduce Western values and structures are merely another imposition on the people. His story is so engaging that I could almost imagine myself walking along with him, looking at the stark landscape, and encountering the people eking out a living in it. I definitely recommend this book.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim St Louis, MO, United States 01-26-07
    Kim St Louis, MO, United States 01-26-07 Member Since 2002
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    "A Brilliant Work of Nonfiction"

    This is among the top 10 audiobooks I've ever listened to, and probably one of the top 3 nonfiction audiobooks I've heard (Night and Ireland are the other 2).
    Stewart's writing style and oratory are clear, easy to listen to and very effective at creating a crisp, clear mental image of the events as he relates them. I almost felt as if I were walking with him.
    He also manages to relate all this information without editorializing, or sounding preachy.
    I have come away from this with a much clearer knowledge of the ethnic people and terrain of Central Afghanistan. I have also developed a great respect for Mr. Stewart's calm storytelling and knack for observing subtleties in people of different ethnicities. I now want to read his latest book, The Prince of the Marshes, just to hear more of his wonderful stories.
    Great book--I strongly recommend it.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-19-11
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-19-11 Member Since 2009
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    "you are a f---ing nutter"

    stewart is an elegant british/scottish story teller
    a fellow brit labels him "a f---ing nutter" and it fits
    the book title suits the story and the author

    the places in between
    the things left unsaid
    the challenges to conventional wisdom

    the ability to stand up to bullies
    the detection of a lie no matter how elegant
    the willingness to endure in order to taste the truth

    he believes his only true peers are ancient writers
    quoted references are routinely from 4 or more centuries ago
    he seeks a wisdom and perspective deeper than modern life provides

    are parts embellished or fabricated ? probably
    is he concerned with a "top 40" audience ? not at all
    is it a wonderful awe inspiring book ? yes

    he allegedly just got elected to british parliament
    i suspect he is on his way to well promoted career
    he brings you with him every insightful step of the way

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie A. Foote Monterey CA 06-12-08
    Leslie A. Foote Monterey CA 06-12-08 Member Since 2006

    hospice doc

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    "crazy scot crosses Afganistan!"

    This story is almost hard to believe. How he made it to the end of his journey is beyond me. The author offers lots of very interesting insights and observations that leave you with much to think on. I feel that I have a better understanding of the "climate" in that area culturally after reading the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Yachats, OR, USA 03-05-08
    Christine Yachats, OR, USA 03-05-08
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    "Incredible journey"

    Rory Stewart has an amazing story to tell and the book is well written. Stewart reads the book himself; this is where medium rating comes in. He's probably one of the few people who can properly pronounce the Arabic and Indonesian words but, on the other hand, his intonations rarely vary. It's a bit monotone even in the most exciting parts and the voices of the different speakers aren't easily distinguished. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Virginia Beach, VA, Virgin Islands, U.S. 08-15-07
    Paul Virginia Beach, VA, Virgin Islands, U.S. 08-15-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Fascinating"

    For me, this book was an eye-opener. Fascinating story, well told by the author.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rusty San Francisco, CA, United States 01-07-07
    Rusty San Francisco, CA, United States 01-07-07 Member Since 2005
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    "forced march"

    Afghanistan was the last stop in the author's 20 months of walking through India, Pakistan, and other countries. I haven't read his other books, which I expect might be quite good, but I get the impression that he was a little burned out when he got to Afghanistan, and just wanted to be done.

    The fact that he did this trip in the dead of winter, through the snow, soaking wet, cold, pressing on while he was tired and had diarrhea, never really resting, probably did not leave him a lot of extra creative energy to observe and interact.

    I think that many details that we as readers would find interesting and exotic were commonplace to him and he barely bothers to mention them. The place did not come alive for me through his words. Also, it seemed the country didn't measure up to some of the other places he'd been. He filled in with anecdotes of other places and had lots of details of the exploits of an ancient emperor. I am interested in history, but this was such micro detail (how they spent the night in a certain cave) I didn't feel it added to my understanding.

    I did learn about Afghanistan, but this information could have been in a good article in the Economist, and didn't need 8 hours. This author is talented, but needs some perspective and fresh eyes.

    12 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dustin Kelley hyperlite 02-05-13
    Dustin Kelley hyperlite 02-05-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Highly Informative"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is a must-read for people wanting to know more about Afghan culture. Rory Stewart is a Scottish historian and writer who culminates a walk across the Middle East with a roughly month-long walk across Afghanistan in the weeks immediately following the fall of the Taliban. He walks through deserts, mountains and valleys. He meets new government officials and soldiers, simple village folk, mullahs, Taliban-loving villagers, etc. He only survived because he spoke Persian, was respectful of Afghan culture, and was given a dog for protection in remote and dangerous areas. After reading this, I realize more than ever that Afghanistan is a bit of every stereotype. He encountered jihadists (quite few in comparison) and peaceful villagers who didn’t even know about the United States. It is a misunderstood country that needs to be met with fresh eyes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hh pdx United States 04-26-12
    hh pdx United States 04-26-12 Listener Since 2003

    hh01

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    "Well done"
    Any additional comments?

    I was immediately taken by this story and the reader's presentation. The reader (if not the writer himself) does an amazing job with tone and pacing -- I wasn't just listening, I was THERE with him, walking side by side. I lent the audiobook to one friend and soon had three others knocking on my office door, forming a queue! That has never happened before. This is an extraordinary listen where the total is not just more than the sum of the parts, but something mesmerizing and unforgettable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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