In September, 2001, just two days before terrorists struck the United States, Ahmed Shah Massoud was assassinated. This great Afghan military leader, known as the Lion of Panjshir, had been fighting the Taliban and Osama bin Laden before most of us in the US even knew of that terrorist’s existence.
When MaryAnn T. Beverly read about Massoud, she was instantly captivated by the heroic actions he had been taking in valiantly and steadfastly fighting for his country’s freedom. From That Flame attempts to capture the essence of his personality through a fictional account of an interview with a female journalist, Michelle Garrett.
Michelle initially approaches Massoud because of his strong stand in favor of women’s fair and equal treatment. But she switches the slant of her article after being caught up in several battles with the Taliban, as his forces try to fend off their sneaky foe.
As Michelle interviews Massoud, we learn more about him as a person. History will show him as a brilliant military man, but there was a softer and gentler side to him that the author also wants people to see. A devout Muslim, he would pray with his men and alone, and he condemned the radical beliefs of the Taliban. He grieved each man’s death, even after many years of fighting. And Massoud was a loyal friend to those worthy of his friendship.
Although at times I felt the relationship between Michelle Garrett and Massoud didn’t ring quite true, I did agree with the author that a fictional account was the most appropriate means of showing us more about this extraordinary man. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, since I’ve never had much of an interest in what went on in the Middle East, but From That Flame is a surprisingly interesting story. Reading about the struggles in Afghanistan and how the people are affected puts US involvement there in a whole new perspective.
Reviewer: Alice Berger