Candy-Wrapped Kalashnikovs and Other War Stories
2011 JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION WRITING AND LITERATURE AWARD FINALIST
Travel books bring you places. War books bring you tragedy. In Peace Meals, war reporter Anna Badkhen brings us not only an unsparing and intimate history of some of the last decade’s most vicious conflicts but also the most human elements that transcend the dehumanizing realities of war: the people, the compassion they scraped from catastrophe, and the food they ate.
Making palpable the day-to-day life during conflicts and catastrophes, Badkhen describes not just the shocking violence but also the beauty of events that take place even during wartime: the spring flowers that bloom in the crater hollowed by an air-to-surface missile, the lapidary sanctuary of a twelfth-century palace besieged by a modern battle, or a meal a tight-knit family shares as a firefight rages outside. Throughout Badkhen’s stories, punctuated by recipes from the meals she shared with the people she encountered, emerges the most important lesson she has observed in conflict zones from Afghanistan to Chechnya: that war can kill our friends and decimate our towns, but it cannot destroy our inherent decency, generosity, and kindness—that which makes us human.