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Extended Audio Sample The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban Audiobook, by Sarah Chayes Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (307 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sarah Chayes Narrator: Renée Raudman Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2006 ISBN: 9781400173082
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A National Public Radio reporter covering the last stand of the Taliban in their home base of Kandahar in Afghanistan’s southern borderland, Sarah Chayes became deeply immersed in the unfolding drama of the attempt to rebuild a broken nation at the crossroads of the world’s destiny. In 2002 she left reporting to help turn the country’s fortunes, accepting a job running a nonprofit founded by President Hamid Karzai’s brother. With remarkable access to leading players in the postwar government, Chayes witnessed a tragic story unfold—the perverse turn of events whereby the U.S. government and armed forces allowed and abetted the return to power of corrupt militia commanders to the country, as well as the reinfiltration of bands of Taliban forces supported by U.S. ally Pakistan. This is an eyeopening chronicle that highlights the often infuriating realities of a vital front in the war on terror, exposing deeper, fundamental problems with current U.S. strategy.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Sarah Chayes has produced a passionate, involving, important work of journalism.”

    Steve Coll, Pulitzer–Prize-winning author of Ghost Wars

  • “Absorbing reading—necessary, even.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “The most gripping, sensitive, funny, perceptive…beautifully written book you will ever read on Afghanistan, US policy, and nation building.”

    Ahmed Rashid

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nikolai | 2/18/2014

    " Excellent overview of Afghanistan's history and the emergence of the post-Taliban government. A must read for anyone interested in Afghanistan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Whitney | 2/18/2014

    " This book is, similar to "Sewing Circles of Herat," is a book by a white female reporter about her experiences in Afghanistan, but what a difference! Where Christina Lamb gives her superficial impressions, here Sarah Chayes goes deep into historical analysis and the subtleties of the political and military players after the US invasion and comes out the other side with this extremely satisfying, dense and nuanced book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin Bell | 2/15/2014

    " She has slightly out of date information for those looking for a recent story, but she gets the complexity level right. Also a lot of the allegations of gross incompetence are pretty accurate. Pay careful attention to what she says about Pakistan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meredith Atkinson | 2/13/2014

    " Fascinating read, but contains a lot more historical background than expected--which made it harder to plough through. Clearly leaves reader feeling that America has really messed up in Afghanistan and it cannot be corrected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 1/31/2014

    " I learned a lot about the current/recent security and political situation in Afghanistan. The author is pretty well-connected with local government officials in Kandahar and members of the Karzai family. Even if you don't take what she says at 100% face value (she comes across as both naive and biased), you get a close-up look at some of the players in Afghani politics it will help inform your reading of unfolding events there. It's definitely just one, very limited perspective, but you can read between the lines a bit and then go on to further reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julian | 1/24/2014

    " Great read. This, for me, was The Ugly American Kandahar style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Evan | 1/23/2014

    " Great way to understand Afghanistan, though as she has attested to, it only focuses on a southern/Kandaharian outlook of the country, which can give a pretty biased interpretation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ruth | 1/22/2014

    " former NPR reporter moves to Afghanistan and reports on life in one village and her attempts to improve that life. Good read. She claims the Pakistani government is playing the US government, feeding them some Taliban members every now and again to stay in their favor, while their corrupt government makes life miserable for Afghanistan folk. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judith | 1/19/2014

    " This book gives amazing insight into our involvement in Afghanistan and why we will probably never make much progress there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ted Haussman | 12/30/2013

    " Excellent but so tragic. A really well-done and insightful portrait of war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ariel | 12/24/2013

    " Wow. One of the most revealing books I've read this year. I feel like I grasp American pitfalls so much better now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 12/10/2013

    " I could not put this book down. It gave me an entirely different perspective on the war in Afghanistan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen McRae | 12/3/2013

    " i really enjoyed sarahs viewpoint on afghanistan culture and wars and how they connect "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 11/30/2013

    " This book was truely an educational journey in what Afganistan is like right now. The author is now one of my heros. She is amazing and paints a wonderful picture of the country and people of Afganistan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nate | 6/26/2013

    " Overview of the culture of AF, emphasis on the mistakes made in U.S. Military and Diplomatic Policy and lessons learned from those mistakes. Told from the personal viewpoint of Sarah Chayes, a former NPR reporter who now runs a non profit soap making business out of Kandahar./ "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tanya | 5/24/2013

    " This book was hit and miss for me (some sections were engaging, some I ended up skimming just to get through). However, her ideas and concerns about U.S. policy in Afghanistan are excellent. So, the ideas I like, but the book itself was a struggle. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelley | 5/13/2013

    " This should be mandatory reading for politicians and NATO military command. Excellent background to recent history in Afghanistan--and how not to win hearts and minds. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caitlin | 3/24/2013

    " An amazing account of both the history of Afghanistan and its current problems, largely as a result of American mismanagement. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to understand the current conflict. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 3/1/2012

    " This is a really good account of a Westerner living in Kandahar (in the south of Afghanistan) for most of the time between 2002-2005 getting to know the locals, working with them, trying to improve things and finding continually so many efforts thwarted (hence the title). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 12/3/2011

    " A great introduction to development challenges and Afghanistan to some extent. I really appreciate Chayes honesty about her inspirations, emotions, and struggles during her 4 years in Afghanistan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 2/20/2011

    " A great introduction to development challenges and Afghanistan to some extent. I really appreciate Chayes honesty about her inspirations, emotions, and struggles during her 4 years in Afghanistan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 11/20/2010

    " really great, informative, readable. i love well written non-fiction. unintentional learning... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 9/15/2010

    " Highly recommend reading this to gain an understanding of what has happened in Afghanistan from a non-political/military perspective from someone who took the time to engage on the ground with local people. I'm only sorry the book only covers until mid 2005. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julian | 9/7/2010

    " Great read. This, for me, was The Ugly American Kandahar style. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrianne | 8/1/2010

    " If you read "Three Cups of Tea" and felt let down by the writing style, this book will be so refreshing to you I think. Chayes' style is direct and precise, and perfectly descriptive. And I feel like I understand so much more about Afghanistan and Pakistan after reading this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelley | 10/29/2009

    " This should be mandatory reading for politicians and NATO military command. Excellent background to recent history in Afghanistan--and how not to win hearts and minds. "

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About the Author

Sarah Chayes is an award-winning former NPR correspondent, foreign policy expert, and entrepreneur with ten years of experience in Afghanistan. Chayes is an associate at the Carnegie Endowment and the author of The Punishment of Virtue. She lives in Washington, DC.

About the Narrator

Renée Raudman is an actor and Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. She has performed on film, television, radio, and on stage and can also be heard in several video games and hundreds of television and radio voice-overs.