Homeira Qaderi is a mother, author, celebrated activist and champion of rights for all Afghani women, and outspoken critic of the Taliban. When the United States announced their withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Taliban regained control of Homeira's beloved country, she knew her life was now in danger. But she was determined to stay in Kabul and keep speaking out against the Taliban. Until her family finally convinced her to try and escape.
Sam Aronson, a junior diplomat with the State Department, was on vacation when Afghanistan devolved into chaos. He quickly volunteered to help with the refugee crisis and ended up being sent to the airport in Kabul to try and vet the thousands of Afghani citizens desperate to leave their country and escape the Taliban--especially those who had done so much to help the Americans over the last twenty years. But it's all the ones he's forced to turn away that begin to give him nightmares. That's when he decides to try and bring as many people as he can through the airport's secret gate before it closes for good. Homeira Qaderi and her son are two of the people he helped save.
My thoughts: This incredible true story is both riveting and heartbreaking. Thinking about what happened in Afghanistan in August of 2021 still makes me angry and sad. And this book captures all of those emotions. The masterful way that Zuckoff interweaves Homeira's and Sam's eyewitness accounts lets you see the harrowing and tragic events taking place on both sides of the gate. Sam's determination to save lives was inspiring. And Homeira's love for her country deepened my understanding of Afghanistan and it's history. For me, this was a 5-star read!
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