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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book Review: In the Land of Blue Burqas

In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord is a revealing glimpse of life in Afghanistan. It is Kate’s own story of her life and relationships with the Afghan people. Kate works for an NGO, and she found ways to help the people in many practical ways, not least of which was sharing stories of Jesus, the Prophet who saves, with people steeped in traditions and afraid of the local mullahs. Miss McCord tells of the plight of the women in Afghanistan. She also talks about how she personally followed Jesus in a totally Islamic culture.

Miss McCord’s book is beautifully written. Her accounts of daily life, personal relationships, conversations, and her own journey of understanding are vivid. I enjoyed the glimpse into the aoulis (family compounds) and into the living rooms of so many of her friends. I found myself almost wanting to sit on a cushion with nuts and dates in front of me, a glass of tea in my hand. Kate’s descriptions are interwoven with learning. She learns the rules of what to do and not to do. She learns by successes and failures.

Afghan women are covered and quiet. They are strangers in the public sphere. They rarely leave their own walled compounds. Women are not known by their own names. Their identity is as mother or wife. They are the “mother of so-and-so or the wife of such-and-such, giving only the name of a boy or a man.” Girls are married young. They have no right to choose a husband. Most women are beaten often by their husbands.

There is a prescribed way of greeting, an order to the conversation. The author is a single woman, something completely incomprehensible to these ladies. Miss McCord says, “I am both an exotic and simultaneously normal creature. That is, until we arrive at my marital status. That becomes the second surprise. The conversation almost always starts the same way. ‘How many children do you have?’ ‘ I have none.’ I smile waiting for the next question. The women look at me in confusion and wonder what to say. A woman without children is a sad thing in Afghanistan. It’s a sign of shame and indication of deep loss and vulnerability. ‘You have no children?’ ‘No.’ I smile again.” She finally tells them she has never married, something totally beyond their sphere of comprehension. Nevertheless, Miss McCord has an open invitation in many homes. She is able to relate to these women who are so very different from her, and they can open up to her.

This book is a fascinating look into a culture that to Americans would seem more than foreign. Kate has learned the culture, the religious beliefs, and has respected both without compromising her own deep faith in Jesus Christ. I love how she uses her knowledge of Islam as a starting block for telling Bible stories about the God who loves, the God who is good, the God who sacrificed to save them. She says, “For my Afghan friends, the notion that it’s God’s will for men and women to live in love and peace is revolutionary. It’s also a dream buried in their deepest being.”

Kate shares the Honorable Jesus with all who will listen. They are amazed by her simple Bible stories. They have, of course, never heard them before. Her stories tell of a love much greater than anything they have ever imagined. They live in fear, and Kate lives in joy.

This is a rich book that will help you understand the women of Afghanistan, the tenets of Islam, and the courage and wisdom of one who lived among them. I give it five stars for the excellent writing, the amazing content, and to the author for her love of the Afghan people. I heartily recommend In the Land of the Blue Burqas to anyone.


  1. This does sound like quite an interesting book!

    1. Fascinating, educational, and challenging. You'll love it!


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