Questions to consider while reading:
-What central questions does Gopal ask about the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan?
-(CH 1): How does Mullah Cable (Akbar Gul) experience the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban? Why does he leave the Taliban?
-(CH 2): Who is Jan Muhammed and why is he imprisoned by the Taliban? What is his connection to Hamid Karzai? What does Jan Muhammed plan on doing after the Taliban is overthrown?
-(CH 3): What does Heela’s life tell us about life in Afghanistan prior to the 1979 Soviet invasion, the mujahedeen, the civil war, and the rise of the Taliban? How do women experience these dramatic events? How are the Soviet invasion and civil war formative events for Akbar Gul?
-(CH 4): How does Gopal use Heela’s experience in rural Afghanistan (Uruzgan) and the “sewing center” to explain traditional gender roles in Afghanistan? What does this chapter explain about the appeal of the Taliban in rural Afghanistan?
-(CH 5 & 6): What does the story of Sherzai and Jan Muhammed (JMK) reveal about how the U.S. pursues the “war on terror” in Afghanistan and how Afghan citizens experience the U.S. presence in their country? What does Gopal criticize about the U.S. war on terror?
-(CH 7): How do the events of this chapter relate to Gopal’s criticism of the war on terror?
-(CH 8 & 9): How does voting and the 2004 election provide both hope and heartbreak to Heela and her husband, Musqinyar? Who is Zahir and how is he part of the chapter’s events?
-(CH 10): What events push Akbar Gul to return to the Taliban? Why does he believe that joining the Taliban is in his and the country’s best interest? According to Gopal, what about how the U.S. pursues the war on terror leads to the Taliban’s revival?
-(CH 11 & 12): What does Akbar Gul do as part of the revived Taliban? Who joins him and why? What does Gopal criticize about the new Taliban?
-(CH 13 & 14): What directions does Heela’s life take after she leaves Uruzgan? What challenges does she face as a woman? Who is Matiullah? How does Heela’s life intersect with his? How does Gopal connect Matiullah to his overall criticisms of U.S. actions in Afghanistan?
-What happened to JMK? How does Akbar Gul regard Afghanistan’s future? How does Gopal regard Afghanistan’s future?