Making Friends Among the Taliban: A Peacemaker's Journey in Afghanistan


Product Details

Herald Press (VA)
Publish Date
5.0 X 7.9 X 0.6 inches | 0.0 pounds

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About the Author

Though born in Minnesota, Jonathan Larson's early home was the Brahmaputra River Valley of northeast India, amid the rice fields, bamboo groves and tea gardens where Burma, Tibet and India meet. The oldest of eight children, he studied at Woodstock School in the Himalayan foothills where he was classmate and trekking partner of Daniel Terry.

Having completed studies in history at the University of Minnesota in 1970, he and his childhood sweetheart, Mary Kay Burkhalter, volunteered to teach school in the Congo, where two daughters were born and where they first encountered Africa's beauty, burdens, and promise.

Following graduate studies, in 1981, the family returned to Africa under the auspices of the Mennonites to Botswana, on the doorstep of apartheid South Africa and on the eve of what became the harrowing AIDS pandemic. Known for his grasp of Tswana language and lore, he served as a leadership trainer in African communities and churches. A third daughter was born to them in those years.

Since 1994 Jonathan has been based in Atlanta as he writes, mentors, and travels to visit conferences, campuses, and churches as storyteller and world citizen.


First-time author Larson is compelled to tell the story of the man who had been his best man: Dan Terry. The son of American Methodist missionaries, Terry had been raised in northern India and was familiar with the Hindu Kush mountain range between Afghanistan and Pakistan. For more than 40 years--through the Soviet invasion, Taliban takeover, and NATO-led invasion--Terry traveled the Afghan highlands "making friends," becoming a "trusted guide... toward a more peaceable country." It is doubtful that anyone other than Terry's childhood friend Larson could have captured the nuances, adventure, faith undertones, and raw beauty of Terry's story. Larson spins an elegant and exhilarating tale of heroism, love, recklessness, and altruism played out against one of the world's oldest cultures and the longest-running U.S. war.

In 2010, Terry's execution-style murder, along with that of nine other aid workers as they returned to Kabul from a medical mission, made international news. While reminiscent of Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea, Larson's look at an American in Afghanistan takes the reader beyond any facile definitions of enemy into a territory of dangerous love, where peace, sturdy and resilient, can neither be built nor dismantled at the point of a gun. (Oct. 19)

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--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "Reviews"