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Phyllis Chesler
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Posted in: American Bride

Published on Aug 01, 2013 by

Published by Booklist Online

Review of An American Bride in Kabul

Second-wave feminist Chesler delves into her past with this memoir detailing her long-ago marriage to an Afghan man and the months spent with his family in Kabul. To her credit, Chesler, who is Jewish, focuses less on a bitter recounting of a disastrous marriage than on her 1961 diary, which reveals the clash of cultures that ensued upon her arrival. She had no reason to suspect that her urbane young husband would so easily relinquish his Western ideals to Muslim traditions once he returned home. Chesler was relegated to harem life and now shares the harsh realities of gender separation and the pervasive dullness of isolation. She was mortified by routine cruelties and the anti-intellectualism encouraged among women and children. After nearly dying, Chesler was sent home by her benevolent and powerful father-in-law. Divorced, she began a new life. Though her inclusion of her political opinions about Israel and the Palestinians bogs down the narrative, Chesler's personal story is fascinating, and her insights on women's lives in Afghanistan are certainly worth reading.— Colleen Mondor

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