In My Father's Country
An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate
On Sale: April 24, 2012
Hardcover / e-Book
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Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, at age three Saima Wahab watched
while her father was arrested and taken from their home by
the KGB. She would never see him again. When she was
fifteen an uncle who lived in Portland, Oregon brought her
to America. Having to learn an entire new language, she
nonetheless graduated from high school in three years and
went on to earn a bachelor's degree. In 2004 she signed on
with a defense contractor to work as an interpreter in
Afghanistan, never realizing that she would blaze the trail
for a new kind of diplomacy, earning the trust of both
high-ranking U.S. army officials and Afghan warlords alike.
When she arrived in Afghanistan in the winter of 2004, Saima
was the only college-educated female Pashto speaker in the
entire country. She was stunned to learn how little U.S. and
coalition forces knew about the Pashtun, who comprise 40% of
the population and from whom the Taliban arose. The blessing
of the Pashtun is essential, but the U.S. army was so
unaware of the workings of this ancient, proud, insular
ethic group, that they would routinely send Farsi
interpreters into Pashtun villages. As a Pashtun-born
American citizen, Saima found herself in an extraordinary
position—to be able to explain the people of her native land
to those of her adopted one, and vice versa, in a quest to
forge new and lasting bonds between two misunderstood cultures.
In My Father’s Country follows her amazing transformation
from child refugee to nervous Pashtun interpreter to
intrepid “human terrain” specialist, venturing with her
twenty-five-soldier force pro-tection into isolated Pashtun
villages to engage hostile village elders in the first, very
frank dialogue they had ever had with the Americans.
From her posting at the forward operating base Farah in
Afghanistan’s blistering western frontier to the year she
spent in Jalalabad translating for provincial governor
“Hollywood Pashtun” Sherzai to the near-suicide missions of
a year and a half in the Khost Province, where before every
mission, she left instructions on how to dispose of her
belongings, having to face the very real possibility of not
coming back alive, Saima Wahab’s is an incomparable story of
one young woman’s unwavering courage and undaunted spirit.
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