A few years ago (perhaps A Waco Farmer remembers exactly when), Tamim Ansary spoke at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. Just this past week I finally read his important book West of Kabul, East of New York : an Afghan American Story . I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Afghanistan, Islam, Americanization, and the current war with Radical Islam.

Mr. Ansary was born and raised in the old Afghanistan--before the communists, before the Soviets, before the Taliban. He moved to America as a young man, eventually becoming a writer and editor. He is uniquely positioned to help Americans understand how a person can love a traditional Islamic culture, even though the author no longer fits into that setting. He also helps the reader to distinguish between the relaxed Islam of traditional Afghanistan, and the harsh, militant Islam of the Taliban. In addition, he has provocative thoughts on the unintended consequences of westernization that helped lead to communism in Afghanistan, and then to the emergence of the Taliban in the context of the Soviet invasion.

On the personal level of the author, his is another fascinating story of Americanization and modernization, from the walled compounds of the old country to the open society of San Francisco, USA. His siblings also came to America: his sister becoming completely Americanized, his brother finding meaning in radical Islam, and he himself trying to understand himself as Afghan American.