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Night Letters


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About the Author

ROB SCHULTHEIS lives in Telluride, Colorado. He has covered Afghanistan for several publications, including Time, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Examiner, and The New York Times Magazine. His previous books are Bone Games, The Hidden West, and Fool's Gold.


Schultheis's obsession with Afghanistan was an outgrowth of his peacetime visits in the 1970s; when war began destroying the country he found himself drawn there again and again, partly as a reporter, partly as a sympathetic witness. Russian involvement brought terrible cruelty and mechanized bloodshed, and the author reports the stories as they came to him with fevered excitement and horror. The things he witnesses himself--rumors of villages blasted to rubble by assault helicopters--are, oddly, more subjective than his personal trial of a dreadful bout with dengue fever and being abandoned on a hillside to die. His descriptions of the many individuals and their savage landscape are unforgettable, and his tales of the desperate yet eager combat by a remarkably resilient people give some of the most vivid images of that war available to us in the West.--Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.

In this impressionistic first-person report on the Afghanistan war, emphasis is on the unique character of the mujahedin , the fiercely independent Muslim rebels, and their valiant struggle against the Soviet invaders. Schultheis, who covered the war for several U.S. newspapers, was impressed by the ``incredibly inappropriate sense of humor'' displayed by the Afghans during military operations. Typical example: a tribesman expresses his joy over the return of a friendly detachment by firing a rocket at them. Miraculously, no one was injured. All parties considered the explosive ``Welcome Home'' hilarious. Many vignettes and anecdotes in this entertaining book fall under the category of what Schultheis calls ``runaway craziness rushing into yet crazier craziness.'' Traveling across the bleak mountain ranges of Afghanistan with various guerrilla units including one he refers to as ``a merry band of muj straight out of Robin Hood,'' the author had several close calls, most of which he seems to have enjoyed. In this chronicle of high adventure Schultheis succeeds in conveying his exhilaration to the reader. (Apr.)

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