An accounting by a British journalist who traveled in Afghanistan for five months during 1984. The Afghans had resisted their Soviet ""oppressors"" for half a decade when, at the behest of London's Sunday Times, reporter Hodson found himself in a small town north of Kabul, dressed in native attire, using a Dari name (his own, he tells us, means ""fairy"" in Dari, and so he chose the more generic ""Abdul""), and charged with investigating the ""people's war."" Armed with a spare pair of bootlaces and Walkman tapes of Bach, Vivaldi, the Doors, and Bob Dylan, ""Abdul"" made contact with a mujahedin (rebel) leader, but not before politely swallowing a clump of chewing tobacco he took to be food and becoming violently ill. He soon experienced shelling by the Shuravi (Russians), was befriended by an Afghan professor, and participated in a dangerous journey with a weapons train. Unprepared for routine quizzes on the Ayatollah Khomeini in the context of the European Reformation, Hodson nonetheless muddled through, weathering the loss of his group's weapons, meetings with rival rebel hands, connections with other western journalists, and a strange fever that threatened to end both the journey and Hodson prematurely. At last he emerged into Pakistan, and safety. A little self-consciously macho in tone, and never quite so dangerous-seeming (or fascinating) as the author seems to believe, this is nonetheless a textured and well-detailed description of the beautiful Afghan landscape and of the deadly scene there.