Bike Riding in Kabul
The Global Adventures of a Foreign Aid Practitioner
by Jamie Bowman
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Pub Date 24 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 24 Oct 2022
Hitchcock Media Group LLC., Boyle & Dalton
Getting roughed up by Islamic fundamentalists, the weekly “feline sex-fest” in Kyiv, bribing Russian police to avoid jail in Moscow, sheltering under the sink (with the lizards) when the ammo dump exploded in Juba, automatic weapons training in Indiana, and that ill-fated morning bike ride in Kabul. It was a great job!
Bike Riding in Kabul follows the professional and personal adventures of international legal consultant Jamie Bowman, an attorney from California, as she endeavors to update the laws of Kosovo, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Moscow, Southern Sudan, Rwanda, and Afghanistan.
As seen through Ms. Bowman’s good humor and unique perspective, Bike Riding in Kabul moves with effortless charm through a fascinating array of personalities and events. It is full of exotic locations, difficult work challenges, strong female role models, and quirky characters, and explores a wide range of themes, including the important role of reform, endemic corruption, post-Cold War sentiments, and how other countries view the United States. Throughout the book, Jamie is supported by an Argentine boyfriend who helps her make sense of the crazy situations she finds herself in.
Fast-paced, funny, occasionally heartbreaking, but always wholly original, Bike Riding in Kabul captures the challenges of an American working overseas and is a story of finding the strength necessary to do the right thing, even when the consequences may be personally damaging.
"Bowman thoughtfully recounts her experiences in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Bangladesh, among others, furnishing perceptive commentary on the various cultures and histories of these nations ravaged by war and impoverishment. She writes with great lucidity and a breezy, anecdotal charm and harbors no idealistic pretensions about the work she does, however important... A splendid and intelligent recollection of an eventful law career."
"In Bike Riding in Kabul, Jamie Bowman takes the reader on an even wilder ride where only the bravest travelers would venture. From an explosive assignment in turbulent South Sudan to a narrow escape from an anti-American mob in Bangladesh, to life in a shipping container in terrorist-plagued Kabul with an irrepressible Argentinian boyfriend, her global odyssey is a page-turner that lays bare the real life of a resolute and resourceful foreign aid practitioner."
—Olivia Ward, East-West News Service
"...Bike Riding in Kabul is a thing apart. It is a beautifully written account of a lawyer's determination to provide authentic, quality advice to fledgling democracies grappling with legal frameworks in post-conflict settings. The book is one part history and one part development—its stories told with large doses humor and personal reflection.
Bike Riding in Kabul enjoys high scores for its nuanced presentation of large pol- icy issues, but just as importantly for its precise depiction of all the little musings that make up an aid advisor's experience. Cringy colleagues, neglected locals, and misgivings about the brash assumptions of a superpower all feature in the book. It now belongs on my special shelf, the one reserved for...books that really plumb the depths of memoir while surfacing the larger issues of international policy."
—Kimberley Wilson, Sr. Lecturer, International Business and Human Security, The Fletcher School, Tufts University
"Bike Riding in Kabul...is a unique take on the travel memoir genre... Unlike many [other] travel memoirs, there is a heavy focus on helping others through the author's travels instead of personal enlightenment. Of course, there were enlightening moments for Bowman as she learns about the world outside of the United States, but that wasn't the focal point. It was a nice change and made me feel like I wasn't reading the same stories from memoirs past.
Bike Riding in Kabul by Jamie Bowman was a delightful read...that I highly recommend. If you're looking for a unique travel memoir or just a profound story, then this is a book you must pick up.
—Thomas Anderson, Editor In Chief, Literary Titan
Jamie Bowman's Bike Riding in Kabul is the story of an intrepid, courageous, and endlessly adventurous Western rule of law advisor. She contributes her unrelenting best in confusing and often dangerous settings to support strengthening or rebuilding societies edging themselves away from political earthquakes, war, and conflict.
Bowman, unlike the odd author who tries to describe this kind of work with technical descriptions, introduces us to the complexity of her work and how to succeed in navigating the world of both inspired and cynical consultants, international agencies, and the endless cast of heroes and villains in the countries she has served. In doing so, she lays her own life bare and reveals in compel- ling vignettes how her patience, resilience, empathy, and respect for the people she is really there to serve help to overcome her misgivings, to push for what is right and to preserve her optimism.
This is a wholly human story with many lessons for those interested in what happens on the front lines of the development and post-conflict work our countries sponsor, as well as for those of us directly involved in the same kind of efforts. A book that has been a long time in coming.
—William (Bill) Loris, Founder and Executive Director Emeritus, Rule of Law for Development Program, Loyola University Chicago School of Law; Co-Founder and former Director General, International Development Law Organization, Rome
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