Afghanistan, the Culture


32 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-7787-9705-8
DDC j958.1




Christine Linge MacDonald, a past director of the Toronto & District
Parent Co-operative Preschool Corporation and a freelance writer, is an
elementary-school teacher in Whitby.


These very timely additions to the Lands, Peoples, and Cultures series
focus on two countries very much in the news recently. Students, both
Muslim and non-Muslim, struggle to comprehend and express the deep
relationships between religion, culture, politics, and geography that
affect these nations. A careful reading of these volumes could be a step
toward gaining this understanding.

The physical beauty and remarkable differences of these two bordering
countries are amply illustrated in the two “Land” volumes. Most
pages feature two bright photographs of terrain, crops, or human
activity. The exploration of Pakistan starts with a vivid trip down the
Indus River, continues through the famous Khyber Pass, and looks at the
many violent weather phenomena that afflict the country. We meet the
Punjabis and other Pakistani peoples and learn about their cities,
industries, crops, and archaeology. The volume ends with a description
of flora and fauna, a glossary, and an index. Afghanistan, the Land
begins by showing us many spectacular views of one of the highest lands
in the world and the famous Desert of Death. In addition to exploring
the usual geographic topics, the book takes a sombre look at the
terrible land-mine problem (five to seven million mines lie hidden).

Each “People” book begins with a historical look at the country,
and moves on to describe the various ethnic groups. It also examines
many aspects of everyday life, such as school, work, sports, village and
city ways, clothing, and food. Women’s experiences during the Taliban
rule are handled openly yet in a non-confrontational tone. Again, a
large selection of bright, up-to-date photographs bring the stories of
the Afghani and Pakistani people to life.

The “Culture” volumes both start with a look at the wide-ranging
influence of Islam in worship, religious festivals, schooling, music,
and architecture. Traditional music, dance, clothing, and sports are
examined, and both volumes end with a traditional folk tale, emphasizing
the cultural importance of the art of storytelling in these nations.

All of the glossy volumes, which are protected by sturdy bindings, are
highly recommended.


Banting, Erinn., “Afghanistan, the Culture,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,