Chicken Street by best selling author John Lane is about Afghanistan before the emergence of the Taliban in that land of majestic mountains and arid plains - the historic and timeless terrain of fearless warriors and the seemingly never-ending Afghan Wars. A country where there have been many losers in years gone past, and a country that has been described as no-man's land, a land where no one wins.
This is a true story of civil war and the broken lives of everyday citizens caught in the crossfire of events in Afghanistan, a tale of courage and stoicism, domesticity and death in the turbulent times that followed the Soviet withdrawal of 1989, and which in turn saw the rise of Taliban control and the destructive succession of events since that time. It is a story of the perilous endeavour of disposal of the debris of war, bringing tragedy in its wake, interwoven with the earlier transitory triumphs and debacles of the British Empire, sweeping from the heights of the northern Hindu Kush through the gauntlet of the Kabul Gorge roadblocks of murdering warlords and thieving bandits, across opium-producing poppy fields beyond Jalalabad to the Khyber Pass and onwards to the intrigues of Peshawar, in what was then the North West Frontier Province and is now called Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Land of the Pashtun.
Here is a glimpse of a wild, alien and inaccessible country, offering a revealing perspective and insight to the present-day continuance of the violent repetitiveness of Afghanistan's long and restive history. Chicken Street is an absorbing and evocative book for observers of our times and for vicarious travellers, for armchair warriors and for students of history - and a book for plainly told, old-fashioned adventure. It is a tribute to those hazardously engaged worldwide on the front-line of post-conflict mine clearance work. And once again, it serves as a reminder that Afghanistan is the land where no one wins.
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