In January 2002, just two weeks after the fall of the Taliban, the author, Rory Stewart, started walking across Afghanistan from Herat to Kabul, straight across the mountains which were covered with snow.
Many people warned him not to go. They said it was dangerous for a Westerner (the author is Scottish) to be walking around by himself. Not only were the people dangerous, he was told, but the weather, with the snow sometimes chest high and the temperature dropping well below zero, could also kill him.
Stewart just brushed off all the warnings. I couldn't tell if he was being brave or foolhardy, though. He doesn't really explain why he is doing this trip. In fact, in the very first sentence of the book, he writes, "I'm not good at explaining why I walked across Afghanistan."
He walks from village to village. In most places he goes, women are nowhere to be seen. The men he meets are often illiterate, with little knowledge of the outside world. Some are friendly, and others hostile.
I wanted to know more about what he thought of all this, but the way he writes about it is very detached. He doesn't seem to make a strong connection, either positive or negative, to anyone or anything until he adopts a dog along the way.
Still, it was interesting to see this glimpse of a world that I know little or nothing about. Overall, I'm glad I read the book. I just got frustrated at times with the writing -- and sometimes with the author himself. I wanted to tell him to slow down, to not always be in such a rush to move on!