Afghanistan in 1997 - a country at war for 18 years. And a love story in between.
The book tells the story of a 26-year old European woman who goes to Afghanistan in 1997 when the opportunity arises to join a film crew on their asignment. With this she fulfills her dream of meeting the man whose struggle and tribulations she has been following for years: the legendary Mujahedin Leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, also known as "The Lion of Panjshir".
After the film crew departs she stays behind and over the following months becomes the close confidant and, indeed love, of Massoud - the only female directly supporting his cause.
As such this book is far more than a historical account of Massoud's last four years. This is a story of deep affection and admiration for the great leader, his country and his cause by a woman far removed from his culture and living thousands of miles away.
As the story develops the author tells in subtle details of Massoud's character and ambitions, her work she conducts in close cooperation with Massoud, Afghanistan's landscapes, the people and their sufferings, as well the political and military develpments impacting Afghanistan in these years. - The Afghan Tragedy comes alive through the eyes of a foreigner, who is Afghan at heart.
These details make up the backdrop to the personal relationship which develops between Ariana and Massoud. Based on a deep mutual understanding a romantic relationship of two soulmates develops in a time of continued conflict, in the shadows of a deeply conservative society and despite him being married.
The story ends with the assassination of Massoud on 9th September 2001, only two days before the 9/11 attacks on New York City.
As the world watches in horror, and Ariana's own world collapses, she struggles with her imense grief, emptiness and the question of 'what now?'.
In the wake of her love's burial, she finally meets Massoud's wife and confronts her bad conscience which she was able to put to one side all these years.
Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was the most prominent leader of the Afghan Mujahedin since the 1980s, has been considered a guerilla genius for his successful tactics which were instrumental at expelling the Soviets out of Afghanistan and holding back the Taliban from taking the whole of the country until 2001.
Massoud was assassinated on 9th September 2001, just two days before the 9/11 attacks on the US. In the months prior to his assassination he had warned the West repeatedly about the threat of a large-scale terror attack by Al Qaida. His warnings were not heeded.