Lamb, Christina 1965–
Lamb, Christina 1965–
PERSONAL: Born May 15, 1965, in London, England; daughter of Kenneth Ernest Edward (an accountant) and Anne (an information technology trainer; maiden name, Wilson) Lamb; married; children: one son. Education: Oxford University, B.A., 1987. Politics: "Left of center." Religion: "Still waiting to see the light."
ADDRESSES: Home—London, England, and Portugal. Office—Foreign Desk, Financial Times, 1 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HL, England. Agent—David Godwin, 55 Monmouth St., London WC2H 9DG, England.
CAREER: Writer and journalist. Central Television, Birmingham, England, trainee reporter, 1987–88; Financial Times, London, England, correspondent from Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1988–90, and Brazil, 1990–; Sunday Times, London, England, foreign affairs correspondent. Neiman Fellow, Harvard University; fellow, Royal Geographical Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named Young Journalist of the Year, British Press Awards, 1989; shared Reporter of the Year Award, 1991; award for periodical writing, Amnesty International, 1992; Foreign Correspondent of the Year, British Press Awards, Foreign Press Association, and What the Papers Say Awards, all 2002, all for reporting on war on terrorism.
Waiting for Allah: Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1991.
The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream, Penguin (London, England), 2000.
The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage through Afghanistan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002, published as The Sewing Circles of Herat: My Afghan Years, HarperCollins (London, England), 2002.
House of Stone, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to newspapers and periodicals, including the Sunday Telegraph, New York Times, New Statesman, Time, and Conde Nast Traveler.
SIDELIGHTS: Christina Lamb is an award-winning journalist, nonfiction writer, and foreign correspondent whose newspaper work has included considerable coverage of Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the war on terror. "I always wanted to write and decided to become a journalist to have some adventures and make some money," she stated in an interview on the Barnes and Noble Web site. Though her early career was hampered by inexperience—she arrived as war correspondent in Peshawar, Pakistan, with a suitcase full of unnecessary items and no idea where she was going to stay—she has since lived in and reported from South Africa, Brazil, and elsewhere. In addition to her print work, she is a frequent commentator and reviewer on radio and television in Great Britain.
Lamb's nonfiction work The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream was conceived when she visited a derelict British mansion in present-day Zambia and discovered a trunkful of papers that had belonged to the mansion's first owner. The Africa House recounts how a military man named Stewart Gore-Brown purchased a great tract of land around Lake Shiwa Ngandu, deep in South Central Africa. Although the land was some two hundred miles from the nearest rail line, Gore-Brown located upon it a forty-room luxury mansion with all the accoutrements of English upper-class life, including oil paintings, fine china, a library, and a well-stocked wine cellar. Lamb uses Gore-Brown's own papers and correspondence to detail his life in the mansion, his unhappy marriage, and the fate of his descendants. In a review of The Africa House in African Business, Stephen Williams wrote: "Christina Lamb tells this extraordinary story in an elegant, flowing narrative. She makes extensive use of extracts from Gore-Brown's letters to provide a near chronological account of one man's remarkable life and, of course, his African house."
In The Sewing Circles of Herat: My Afghan Years, Lamb explores her initial tour of duty as a correspondent in Afghanistan in the 1980s and early 1990s and how the country had radically degenerated when she returned there more than a decade later. Lamb recounts the course of the war against Russia, in which Pakistanis and Afghans served with the assistance of the United States. She examines in depth the rise of the fundamentalist Muslim Taliban, an account "brilliant in its human detail," observed Matthew Leeming in Spectator. Lamb explores how the brainwashing and abuse of isolated, lonely boys in Muslim theological seminaries called madrassahs resulted in a virulently misogynistic, repressed, and thuggish group of men ascending to power in Afghanistan. Afghan women suffered for years under the abusive fundamentalist Taliban policies. However, the title of Lamb's book is derived from a group of women writers in Herat who carried on the dangerous and defiant work of keeping their literary tradition alive, concealed behind the outward guise of simple sewing circles. A reviewer on the EnCompass Culture Web site called the book "an authoritative account of the tragic plight of a proud people." Leeming called The Sewing Circles of Herat a "powerful book," concluding that "as an account of how the country got into its present state, and of the making of the grotesque regime of the Taliban, it could not possibly be bettered."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lamb, Christina, The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage through Afghanistan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
African Business, September, 1999, Stephen Williams, review of The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream, p. 42.
Guardian (Manchester, England), November, 2002, Veronica Horwell, "The Flame Still Flickers," review of The Sewing Circles of Herat.
Spectator, December 28, 2002, Matthew Leeming, "The Making of the Taleban," review of The Sewing Circles of Herat, p. 37.
Barnes and Noble.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ (March 25, 2006), interview with Christina Lamb.
Christina Lamb Home Page, http://www.christinalamb.net (March 25, 2006).
EnCompass Culture, http://www.encompassculture.com/ (March 25, 2006), profile of Christina Lamb.