Recommended: A Thousand Splendid Suns
This is a book about the fortunes of a poor girl in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, through the era of the Taliban and then after September 11.
I found nothing surprising in this book; I've often read similar accounts of the treatment of women and children in this country during this era and the present one. I imagine most people have, too.
What you might find interesting is the color and feeling this book gives to the culture. It's heroine, I suppose you could call her, suffers during the Soviets. She suffers during the Taliban. She suffers later after September 11. She suffers through peace; she suffers through war. In the end, she dies at the hands of the Taliban, one of those burka covered anonymous women walked out on the soccer field and beheaded.
But what I found interesting was that, just as the characters cry about how war has ruined their lives, it is war, in the end, that allows the heroine's adopted daughter to escape her fate, marry her love, and rise above her circumstances. And this, I suppose, is the truth about war. We hate war and we fear it, but war is sometimes the only way to wrench life from the hands of the diabolical.