Debra Denker paints the human side of war that is often forgotten. Denker's riveting novel is more than entertainment; it is also a wake-up call. It asks us, as a nation, to go beyond the stereotypical, cartoonish notions that dominate our thinking about the peoples whose nations we've invaded in recent years. Denker has made an important contribution and her novel merits a wide readership.
—Larry Dossey, MD
Author of One Mind, The Power of Premonitions, and Healing Words
Love and War in the Land of Cain is a profoundly humane and healing tale, a poignant reminder of the tragic recent history of Afghanistan, the cruel toll taken by the Cold War, and what we have yet to learn. Debra Denker is a brilliant, compelling storyteller, who has rendered a tough and tender novel that moved me to tears with its fury, heartbreak, romance, compassion, and beauty.
Author, A House White with Sorrow: A Ballad for Afghanistan
and The Scimitar and The Veil: Extraordinary Women of Islam
Editor, Land of the Unconquerable:
The Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women
Only someone who knows Afghanistan intimately could write such a beautiful and profound story set in the early years of the ongoing conflict. Debra Denker, a journalist in Afghanistan in the 1980's, weaves a passionate and yet sometimes tender tale of the often tragic unfolding of life in this country, which has been at war since 1979.
I work as Editor-in-Chief for the multimedia platform Voices for Biodiversity, which focuses mostly on the field of environmental journalism. However, I spent a decade of my life working as an anthropologist in post-conflict countries such as Namibia, Panama, and Rwanda. I am familiar with the emotional territory of people and places that have been affected by war. War leaves an indelible mark on its people and the land itself.
Debra's novel is entirely engaging and truthful. Quite simply, I couldn't put the book down. The novel powerfully shows how war in Afghanistan has affected its people and others who came to be there. But this novel is not just about Afghanistan, it also is a story that could take place in many countries that have been or are approaching a crossroads. To read this book is to peer into the heart and mind of possible opportunities for change and choice.
—Tara Waters Lumpkin, PhD
Founder, Voices for Biodiversity
In Love and War in the Land of Cain, Debra Denker offers the reader a vivid account of life in Afghanistan at the end of the Soviet occupation. The author gives voice to the intensity of the harsh landscape and the complex Afghan people who have incredible strength and resilience along with continuing conflicts and destruction. Ms. Denker tells the story of an American female journalist’s experience reporting in the midst of this conflict. Her story puts in stark relief ideological complexity, tribal and family loyalties, old traditions and warm family ties. She fortunately found friendships that would help protect her during her travels. She even falls in love amidst the chaos of war with an Afghan doctor who came back from America to help his people. Through her experiences, the reader observes the devastation of lives and land that seems so senseless. With new insights, this story provides evidence that only the Afghan people can resolve their conflicts in their own time and way. Also the bravery of this American journalist during that war is stunning.
Love and War in the Land of Cain
I was blown away by Love and War in The Land Of Cain. I didn't expect Debra Denker (or anyone else) to be able to capture the spirit of Afghanistan and the Afghan people but she has done so. She cleverly sets her story in the recent past, during the Soviet occupation of the 80s, so as not to politicize her tale and bring in the reader's bias towards the current conflict. She manages to show us Afghanistan through Afghan as well as western eyes. We learn what the Afghans have been fighting for all these years and the tragedies they continue to face. Most important we are shown forcefully the toll that ALL wars take on non-combatants and especially on the most defenseless members of society, women, children and the elderly.
I am not a fan of romance against the background of war or strife stories, but this one is thoroughly engaging. All the characters are real and so human, endearingly unaware sometimes, struggling to figure out what they feel and want. It was easy to identify with them. The plotting is very good, with enough surprises to keep me engaged throughout. I couldn't wait to get back to this book every day I was reading it.
Love and War in The Land Of Cain brought back my experiences in Afghanistan in 2002 more than anything I have read since I was there. Denker knows the country and people deeply and writes with refreshing honesty, so these people are all real. Her observations on human behavior and desires are wise and the book is filled with the love of humanity in all our foolishness so that you read through the book with hope, amazingly. Highly recommended.
—Bill Megalos, documentary filmmaker specializing in global health and development issues, film instructor