book coverI've just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (ironically, I finished reading it while taking shelter from dark skies and a menacing rainstorm).

In short, the book is fantastic. The writing...superb; the story setting...pertinent to current events; the characters...captivating.

If you're looking for a book to read, you can't go wrong with this one, or with the first book Hosseini wrote, called The Kite Runner, which is also beautifully written.

Just before reading this book, I read a book called America's Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between the United States and Its Enemies, which is an analysis of the geopolitical trends and events that led up to 9/11 and the subsequent wars.

This book was written by George Friedman, the co-founder of Stratfor, which is one of the best sources of analysis about geopolitical events available.

America's Secret War explains in great detail the background and context for many of the things that have gone haywire in the past decade or so, without devolving into name-calling, partisan politics or ideological rants...a refreshing change from the rubbish put out by the mass media.

From reading Friedman's book, I gained a basic understanding of the background to events in Afghanistan, which happens to be the setting for A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Though it was by sheer chance, reading the novel after reading the political analysis was perfect. I was able to place the events and people that the characters in Hosseini's book encounter, and also understand the political references in his novel.

So...if you're looking for a good book, you can't go wrong with A Thousand Splendid Suns. And if you're interested in learning more about the factual context in which the novel is set, America's Secret War is an excellent resource.