Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: The Last Thousand: One School and the Future of Afghanistan by Jeffrey E. Stern

Title: The Last Thousand: One School and the Future of Afghanistan
Author: Jeffrey E. Stern
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martins
Publish Date: January 5, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "The Last Thousand unfolds during America's final year of military occupation in Afghanistan. The stakes of war are explored through the intertwining lives of six members of the Marefat School, an institution in the Western slums of Kabul built by one of the country's most vulnerable minority groups, the Hazara, as the school community prepares for the departure of foreign troops. Marefat's mission is to educate its community's youth- both boys and girls - and introduce them to a secular curriculum, civic participation, and the arts. The Marefat community has embraced the U.S. and flourished under its presence; they stand to lose the most when that protection disappears."

My Two Cents:

"The Last Thousand" is a look at one school in war torn Afghanistan. It's a place where kids can be kids and learn (and sometimes even adults whose own education was interrupted can go back to learn as well). Girls learn alongside boys in a country where women are often seen as lesser than men. It's a really amazing story told in an interesting way.

Stern tells the story through telling the stories of individuals and their interactions with the school. The Afghan people in this book are Hazaras, a group that has often been marginalized in their own country. Stern doesn't just focus on one group, he focuses on many different groups and people to tell the story of how the school came to be and how it has been able to stay so resilient with everything going on in that country. It's really fascinating!

The writing of the book is good although because Stern focuses on so many different sides, the story sometimes lost me. Although it was very interesting to see the school from so many different perspectives. The story is told mostly in third person present tense, which also lost me somewhat. However, the meat of the story really shines through and made for a powerful read!  


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