Best Anna Badkhen books
Fisherman's Blues: A West African Community at Sea
Best price for this book: $ 27
The sea is broken, fishermen say. The sea is empty. The genii have taken the fish elsewhere.
For centuries, fishermen have launched their pirogues from the Senegalese port of Joal, where the fish used to be so plentiful a man could dip his hand into the grey-green ocean and pull one out as big as his thigh. But in an Atlantic decimated by overfishing and climate change, the fish are harder and harder to find.
Here, Badkhen discovers, all boundaries are permeable--between land and sea, between myth and truth, even between storyteller and story. Fisherman's Blues immerses us in a community navigating a time of unprecedented environmental, economic, and cultural upheaval with resilience, ingenuity, and wonder.
Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah
Best price for this book: $ 10.56
An intrepid journalist joins the planet’s largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries.
Anna Badkhen has forged a career chronicling life in extremis around the world, from war-torn Afghanistan to the border regions of the American Southwest. In Walking with Abel, she embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys—nomadic herders in Mali’s Sahel grasslands—as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It’s a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat—from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty—brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they’ve contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries.
Dubbed “Anna Ba” by the nomads, who embrace her as one of theirs, Badkhen narrates the Fulani’s journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani’s Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. As they cross the Sahel, the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, they accompany themselves with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales of herders and hustlers, griots and holy men, infused with the myths the Fulani tell themselves to ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their—our—future.
The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village
Best price for this book: $ 11
In the middle of the salt-frosted Afghan desert, in a village so remote that Google can’t find it, a woman squats on top of a loom, making flowers bloom in the thousand threads she knots by hand. Here, where heroin is cheaper than rice, every day is a fast day. B-52s pass overhead—a sign of America’s omnipotence or its vulnerability, the villagers are unsure. They know, though, that the earth is flat—like a carpet.
Anna Badkhen first traveled to this country in 2001, as a war correspondent. She has returned many times since, drawn by a land that geography has made a perpetual battleground, and by a people who sustain an exquisite tradition there. Through the four seasons in which a new carpet is woven by the women and children of Oqa, she immortalizes their way of life much as the carpet does—from the petal half-finished where a hungry infant needs care to the interruptions when the women trade sex jokes or go fill in for wedding musicians scared away by the Taliban. As Badkhen follows the carpet out into the world beyond, she leaves the reader with an indelible portrait of fates woven by centuries of art, war, and an ancient trade that ultimately binds the invaded to the invader.
Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through Northern Afghanistan
Best price for this book: $ 0
Format Note: Available for the first time as a collection, Badkhen’s dispatches span three weeks of daily coverage to create a short-form e-book.
Afghanistan by Donkey: A Year in a War Zone
Best price for this book: $ 0
Badkhen, a courageous war correspondent, decided to embed not with American troops but with the Afghan people in 2011. Throughout the year, she returns again and again to the country, traveling by foot, by taxi – and even by donkey – to the remote villages and hamlets of the Afghan North, reporting as the Taliban take over large swaths of territory and also on the unimaginable daily hardships of life in a place where even such basics as water, electricity, a doctor, and a working school are impossible luxuries. It’s a place so remote that even the death of Osama bin Laden barely registers, where war is taken as a fact of life, along with the rituals of mourning and celebration that Badkhen is allowed to witness up close. As bestselling author Peter Bergen says in the accompanying introduction to the ebook, a special collaboration of Foreign Policy magazine and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, it is “a bleak tale told by an expert storyteller.”
This is the story of her year, a year in the life of a war that will not die.
Peace Meals: Candy-Wrapped Kalashnikovs and Other War Stories (INCLUDES WAITING FOR THE TALIBAN, PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE ONLY AS AN EBOOK)
Best price for this book: $ 6.9
2011 JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION WRITING AND LITERATURE AWARD FINALIST
Travel books bring you places. War books bring you tragedy. In Peace Meals, war reporter Anna Badkhen brings us not only an unsparing and intimate history of some of the last decade’s most vicious conflicts but also the most human elements that transcend the dehumanizing realities of war: the people, the compassion they scraped from catastrophe, and the food they ate.
Making palpable the day-to-day life during conflicts and catastrophes, Badkhen describes not just the shocking violence but also the beauty of events that take place even during wartime: the spring flowers that bloom in the crater hollowed by an air-to-surface missile, the lapidary sanctuary of a twelfth-century palace besieged by a modern battle, or a meal a tight-knit family shares as a firefight rages outside. Throughout Badkhen’s stories, punctuated by recipes from the meals she shared with the people she encountered, emerges the most important lesson she has observed in conflict zones from Afghanistan to Chechnya: that war can kill our friends and decimate our towns, but it cannot destroy our inherent decency, generosity, and kindness—that which makes us human.