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Douglas W. Reiss
- Publié sur Amazon.com
My complete review of this book was originally listed under the original French title "Les Cavaliers" (it is now removed, so it has been added below the following introduction:). The true meaning of this story is discussed there, without revealing the details of its triumphant, ending---just recall that every triumph has its price, and the price may not seem fair to some people. The spirit of Northern Afghanistan is represented in this tale, perhaps presaging events of this most surprising new century. While America still recovers from the horror of the World Trade Center bombing, and politicians discuss their intended actions and threaten each other, read the story of a man who relies on himself, rather than on strangers, eventually finds support and friendship, and ultimately, healing and success. The world is at times, a savage and lonely place, with no guarantees of success. This book may help you deal with it.
Review formerly posted at "Les Cavaliers" page:
Afghanistan - from a personal and social perspective, August 8, 2001
The Horsemen, as the title is translated, was the only book by Joseph Kessel to be made into a "Hollywood" film. It is, unintentionally, the story of the spirit of Afghanstan and its people, circa 1970 [the writing was completed in 1966], told in the form of a record of one person's adventures. The protagonist is a villager from a Northern Province [Meimana] who travels to Kabul in order to participate in the National Sport, the Bushkazi, during which the carcass of a goat must be transported, on horseback, around a goal post. The winner is the one who returns the carcass to the starting post. During the competition, he breaks a leg, and awakens in a hospital. After being informed that he will be operated on by a female doctor, the outraged and seriously chauvinistic Moslem patient to be -- escapes. The first part of the book describes his ordeal of return to his remote village, across the moutains. He battles fever from sepsis from the leg, a treacharous syce, or servant, and the servant's money and power hungry girlfriend, the environment of the mountain passes, and ultimately, himself and the broken leg, which situation he resolves before arriving in his native village. The high point, literally, of the first portion of the story, involves his meeting a "wise woman", and receiving her advise, warnings and assessment of his personal situation. His journey through the mountains is rewarded by passage through the Band-i-Amir, the accompanying description of its isolated mosque and seven-stepped lakes being beyond comparison in the pages of literature. His return to his native village begins the second part of the story, in which he recovers from the events in Kabul, and the mountains. He finds a trainer who can meet his [now] special needs [whom he actually met along the mountain journey beforehand], and surmounts nearly impossible personal circumstances to ultimately return to [Kabul--perhaps] performance on horseback and to glorious triumph, [both in the Bushkazi--inaccurate here sorry] over the barriers of his difficulties and permanent disability. A personal note--the film, with Omar Sharif and Jack Palance, presents many of the important points of the book, but only the book presents the full impact of the story. I read this book after leaving Yale University under very difficult personal circumstances, and this book gave me hope that I, too, could surmount the barriers to my success. In essence, this book inspired in me the will to continue living, and I believe that it can do that as well, for others. Although this novel is not as well known as "Belle de Jour", or "The Lion", and I have only read "Belle de Jour", I believe this novel of his may well be his most finely crafted, and his most inspiring. [modifications and corrections from my original posting have been made--some deletions or additions are square bracketed].