Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, 1 Year Anniversary

5 books everyone should read in their lifetime

Celebrate with me Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for and its 1 year anniversary from its publishing debut on Amazon.
Looking at war from the perspective of all those sucked into it, civilians, soldiers, military working dogs, MWD, and eve belligerents, Silent Heroes is a narrative about the value of life and the necessity of combat; the terror of dying; the ordeal of seeing your loved ones and your platoon-mates killed in front of your eyes; the trauma of taking a human life.

“What I tried to convey through Silent Heroes is that all those impacted by war are, at the end of a fighting day, human being with dreams and families. A war’s consequences, like the shadow of a nightmare, reach far beyond the battlefield.
Perhaps being a woman that writes about war I couldn’t ignore my inner voice speaking for the daughter, the wife, and the mother in me.”

Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, 1 Year Anniversary, 5 books everyone should read in their lifetime
5 books everyone should read in their lifetime, Jodi Picoult, Ken Follett, Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg, Victor Hugo, Shantaram – as chosen by fantastic reader and book blogger Mani.

On the book itself and on how it came to be, read below.

Numerous other silent heroes, from countless wars, came before the book itself, especially the Military Working Dogs of Gulf War, Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. That was just the beginning.

Secrets Revealed in of Silent Heroes

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Military Chain of Command
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Taliban’s Secret Lair
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Women’s Rights under Taliban
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Humanity of U.S. Marines

Music often inspired me. I invite you to listen to some of the tunes behind Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for on the book’s 1 Year Anniversary:

The Music of Silent Heroes

Songs that Remind me of the Marines, my Silent Heroes
Songs that Remind me of Silent Heroes: the Afghan people

The Setting behind Silent Heroes

5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes
Afghanistan, a Dangerous Landscape

The youngest human character in Silent Heroes is a little Afghan boy of eight years old, Rafik:

Rafik’s Travels in Silent Heroes

Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Afghan Village
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. At Camp Bastion
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. The Afghan Desert
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Oshkosh Vehicle
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. The Hindu Kush Mountains

Silent Heroes book Afghanistan military orking dogs Patricia Furstenberg

Of course, there would be no Silent Heroes, 1 Year Anniversary, without some:

Silent Heroes Poetry and First Chapters

The Soldier and his Dog, Silent Heroes
A Boy and his Dog
Read the opening pages of Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

If you love secrets and symbology you might enjoy reading:

Secrets of a Book Cover

Secrets of a Book Cover – a Guest Post: the soldier and his dog, an Afghan sunset, and Afghan eyes
Secrets Hidden in a Book Cover – the colors: red, brown and gold

Women Writing about War

How is my Writing Different in my Genre
A Resultant Force, Women Writing about War
Women Writing about War

Silent Heroes

And, how else:

Celebrating the Readers of “Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” and Their 5 Stars Reviews for This Book

5 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime – by Mani, #Free #eBook

5 books everyone should read in their lifetime

I read 5 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime once, twice, rubbed my eyes and read it again as lovely Mani has listed my novel Silent Heroes alongside titles by Jodi Picoult and Ken Follett! So I am sharing my joy with you!

There is no greater joy for a writer but when one of his books is remembered, months after publication, and mentioned as having made an impact on the reader. A lasting impact.

I write wishing to wake up feelings, to lift a veil, to inform without being tiresome. I write with joy for what I want to impart, for what I discovered, or for what it should be revived. My books always hold a grain of truth. And they always include (at least) a dog.

If you follow my blog you do know that I don’t brag about my writing achievements. But this list of Top 5 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime just blew my mind…


Last week Mani compiled her 5 Books (to date) Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime:

5 books everyone should readin their lifetime
5 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime – by Mani

Jodi Picoult’s Handle With Care is a contemporary emotional drama.

Shantaram by Gregory Roberts is a contemporary thriller drawing from the author’s own experiences.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett’s Pbook is a historical fiction set during the 12th century.

Hugo’s Les Miserables is nearly 1 300 pages of French history recounted through the personal stories of its main characters.

And my Silent Heroes?

Silent Heroes looks at war, the war in Afghanistan, from different perspectives: of the US Marines and their military dogs, of the UK Medics, of the Afghan people as well of that of the Taliban.

The Silent Heroes eBook is FREE for today only. Just click one of the links below:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon Australia
other Amazon websites in Europe
Amazon Mexico
Amazon India
Amazon Japan

Or use this Amazon international link:

Patrici Furstenberg on Amazon

If you don’t have an e-reader you can still read eBooks on your PC with Kindle App, just follow these quick steps:

  • Step 1: Install Kindle for PC App on PC. …
  • Step 2: Open the Application. …
  • Step 3: Sign in the Kindle App with your Amazon Account. …
  • Step 4: Download a Book from Your Cloud. …
  • Step 5: Open the Kindle Books to be Read on PC.

Mani read Silent Heroes last year and shared her impressions on her website concluding with “this review doesn’t do this book any justice, BUT it’s such a great read that I really can’t express how much I enjoyed it. If your looking for a fast paced read I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s a definite must read.” (gosh).

Silent Heroes was also featured on Mani’s Best Books of 2019 alongside books by C.J. Tudor, Alex Michaelides, and Cara Hunter. Yay!

On January the opening lines of Silent Heroes were included in her First lines Friday blog post 🙂 YAY! I love that opening paragraph! 🙂 I think is the one I spent the most time revising 🙂 Mani also said on another occasion that it “nearly brought tears” to her eyes when she read Silent Heroes… (Goodness!)

If you are curious to see what the fuss is all abut, I made Silent Heroes FREE, today ONLY. So grab it now from Amazon. Click here. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts 🙂

Thank you for sharing in my joy!

5 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime - by Mani @Manisbookcorner
5 Book Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime

Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Oshkosh Vehicle

Rafik, the youngest character in Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, undergoes a rather explosive journey in an Oshkosh vehicle belonging to the US Marines.

I hope you followed his footsteps thus far, from his home village of Nauzad, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan all the way to Camp Bastion, and through the Afghan desert.

The past – a journey of heroes in the pre-Oshkosh vehicle era

How interesting it was researching the vehicles used by the US Marines in Afghanistan! We are all familiar with the classical WWII image of a US soldier in a jeep.

US jeep WWII - journey heroes Oshkosh vehicle

With the need for an improved army vehicle dating back to the 1970s, it was in 1989 that new and improved combat vehicles, the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV – colloquial: Humvee) were first used and soon replaced all tactical vehicles. The Humvee first gained national fame during the First Gulf War.

the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV - colloquial: Humvee). journey heroes Oshkosh vehicle

After 9/11, when US troops were deployed in Afghanistan, the Humvee proved perfect on the non-existing roads and rough mountainous terrain.

The Humvee has been in use for 30 years. It was praised by soldiers for its off road capabilities and became so popular that even a civilian version was created, “I’ll take one in red.”

The civilian model Humvee
The civilian model Humvee

The Humvee was much liked by the soldiers in the “pre-IED” (Improvised Explosive Device) era. The soldiers would “customize” it by removing unnecessary armor and even doors, making the Humvee more maneuverable and increasing their visibility.

Came Iraq War, the use of IEDs and car bombs – and the Humvee’s popularity decreased. Its new armored doors weighed hundreds of pounds and were hard to open and additional armor to the turret decreased its road stability.

A new vehicle for the US Army: the Oshkosh

The Oshkosh M-ATV is the new a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle used by the US Army and the US Marines.

There are high chances that you have seen the Oshkosh before and its interior – on which info and images are hard to find as are classified. The Oshkosh was the guest star on Iron Man, alongside Robert Downey Jr.

And you will see the Oshkosh wherever US Army and Marine Corps will be deployed until 2060. The standard Oshkosh has a two-inch thick windscreen, a reversing camera, and a bulletproof skin.

As the Oshkosh vice president put it, these new army vehicles have “the protection of a light tank and the mobility of a Baja race truck.” – yet they are “light enough” that a Sikorsky Stallion helicopter can lift one, or even two in their light-arms-resistant form.

You can see below an Oshkosh lifted by a King Stallion Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter.

How is the Oshkosh different from a Humvee? Read on.

‘The Humvee, colloquial for HMMWV, short for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, was a four-wheel-drive no-joke combat vehicle primary used by the Army and Marines up until a couple of years back in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The increased number of patrol ambushes, IEDs and suicide attacks against such tanks on wheels soon forced the soldiers to think out of the box and bolt steel plates to their Humvees for protection. Add this extra weight to the already low design of the Humvee and the Pentagon saw itself forced to rush back to the drawing boards and come up with an improved design for a combat vehicle, this time calculated with the safety of its four occupants in mind. Something strong enough to withstand the blast of an IED placed on the road, yet light enough to be transported by a helicopter. Fast enough to allow the driver to take off in a dangerous situation, yet better suited to the uneven Afghan terrain. The Oshkosh JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) came through and FOB Day owned a brand new one.

On Dunn’s request, Kent took his place on the driver’s ‘throne’, as they jokingly called any of the four seats inside the Oshkosh as opposed to the Humvee’s close to zero padding metal seats. Dunn took the gunner’s seat, on the left side behind the driver. Once the medical technician secured the child in the back seat an eerie silence settled inside the vehicle.

‘Listen!’ Kent’s eyebrows went up with his index finger.

Both Dunn and the technician cocked their heads.

‘I hear zilch,’ said Dunn preparing his video screen for the roof-mounted remote weapons station. ‘Ex-xactly,’ said Kent, watching the big gates swing open. ‘I have great appreciation for this bubble of toughness,’ he added, caressing the dark dashboard. Making use of the sleek touchscreen Kent looked like he was back in his gaming-days until his hand stopped on the auto gear-lever sticking out in the darkness. The muted hum of the Oshkosh’s V8 started at the simple press of a button and, after Kent slot it in into drive the truck began gliding forward.’

‘‘Bye-bye Humvee?’ Kent chuckled, ‘I love that stinky, creaky tough old-bull-dog.’

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Oshkosh US Marines new vehicle - journey heroes Oshkosh vehicle
The Oshkosh

‘The Oshkosh, an all-terrain, Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle was such a solid truck that nothing should have been able to shake it. In theory.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

Yet nowhere is safe in Afghanistan and, soon enough, the Taliban have adjusted their attack technique with the arrival of the new US Army vehicles, the Oshkosh.

Will Rafik survive this journey alongside the Silent Heroes in the Oshkosh vehicle that’s supposed to be IED proof? And where will he go next?

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Silent Heroes

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

How is my Writing Different in my Genre

How is my writing different in my genre

When my latest novel, Silent Heroes – When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for was released, it became a #1 New Release in Amazon US in History of Afghanistan for kindle category for a couple of months, a #2 Best Sellers in Arms Control as well as #4 Best Seller in Middle Eastern Literature – out of thousands of books. As an avid reader and writer, I asked myself, how is my writing different in my genre?

My interest in the War in Afghanistan was stirred by understanding what a major influence the use of military dogs has on the lives of civilians. Most books written on this subject are from a military or political perspective. A retelling of true facts. I wanted to create a work of fiction that will appeal as well as stir emotions, something plausible, yet appealing to a wider category of readers.

Silent Heroes in History in Afghanistan

Silent Heroes #1 New Release History in Afghanistan - how is my writing different in my genre

As I browse History in Afghanistan Amazon category today I see books on true accounts of war, some containing in-depth interviews with prominent political figures, some analyze government accounts and provide new answers, some focusing on the past Afghan history. Most of them are written by war heroes, reporters, historians or veteran journalists.

How is my writing different in my genre

We tend to read a book from the perspective of our own experiences. Some books, after reading them, manage to change the way we see our own life – and this is what I tried to achieve with Silent Heroes.

Having lived through a Revolution and the fall of the Eastern Bloc, I believe that the power of historical knowledge is often overlooked. From my point of view, the situation in Afghanistan is still of global interest as the revealing of the Afghan Papers proved. There are other historical hot-spots throughout the world and as I write this blog post the Iran crisis and the threat of WWIII clouds the news headlines.

As a woman writer, I am aware of my communication style being different and unique, reflecting my own mindset. My writing reflects the smooth running of my thoughts, like a deep and quiet river.

The thing that Patricia does remarkably well is taking you on a journey and heightening your senses to make you feel you are in the territory of Afghanistan frightened for your life and surviving the Taliban. The description that Patricia uses to set the scenes are absolutely beautiful and you can really visualise being there.” (Tom, Book reviewer)

A well-researched, thought-provoking and ultimately insightful consideration of life in the military. I loved how the author captured a war-torn Afghanistan, how the fragility of human life was portrayed but especially how visual the book felt throughout.” (Amazon Review)

Powerful, poetic language ensured I visualised each scene, heard ‘the sounds of war’… The minutiae of the episodes had me on the edge of my seat and the book possessed vivid filmic quality… This novel is an intense, evocative and heart-wrenching narrative of destruction and hope. There is a philosophical exploration of the fragility of human life and the consequences of power struggles.” (Lady Bracknell, Amazon Review)

Silent Heroes in Arms Control

Silent Heroes #2 in Arms Control - how is my writing different in my genre

Books in Amazon’s Arms Control category are often looking at global issues involving armament, or are thrillers.

How is my writing different in my genre

Including Silent Heroes in the Arms Control Amazon category was due to the nature of the story. Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, are the Taliban’s weapon of choice and still the most lethal explosive weapons in use today. IEDs are artisanal bombs, constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. IEDs killed more soldiers and are responsible for two-thirds of all the coalition deaths. Yet IEDs are proved to produce brain damage too, through repetitive brain trauma.

Enter Military Working Dogs, MWDs, some of my Silent Heroes, with their powerful sense of scent and IEDs are suddenly less of a threat.

Extensive research went into accurately incorporating the use of weapons in my book, be it Taliban-used Kalashnikovs, the AK-47, or a Beretta M9A1, to the feel and the effects of an IED explosion, the use of thermal imaging or the describing of an attack.

What I do differently in my book is taking the human factor into account. This is how my writing is different in my genre.

“Cell Bravo had found the door leading to the first underground tunnel, Kent feeling thankful for their night vision goggles. Weapons at the ready they approached the first flight of stairs. Kent knew that on rounding a corner of a hallway inches meant the difference between life and death. He tried the old mirror trick to check if the stairs were clear of Talibans but the tunnel was as dark as death, the mirror trick useless and he had to look for himself using his NVGs. Kent signalled Seb to cover him as he inched forward towards the gap opening onto the flight of stairs.

‘Clear,’ his hand waved as he headed down along the narrow staircase, weapon pointing forward, finger on the trigger, Seb right behind him, the remainder of Cell Bravo Marines following. They knew the corridor opening at their feet will lead both ways, double the danger. (…)

No further than six feet across and on their level stood a Taliban machine gunner. His eyes were two fire ambers on a chalked appearance, his impassive face framed by the familiar bushy beard. The muzzle of his machine gun stared at the two soldiers like a menacing third eye.

Luck is partially determined by your reaction in a specific situation.

The Marines reacted first. Sure, later they will carry on an entire controversial dialog as to which one was the first to have pressed his trigger. They both did, churning the Taliban, his machine gun flinching upwards by the force of its bullets. They tore a tunnel through the man’s body, showering stones and splinters all around. Their ears rang from the continuous blasting that had echoed back and forth in the tunnel.

What kind of thoughts race through a man’s mind when he shoots another human being at such close range?

Tweedledee later remembered thinking he was sure he will be dead before his magazine will be empty. Tweedledum thought of his parents and how he didn’t want them to lose their youngest son after their eldest died the year before, killed by an IED planted at the edge of a paved road in Afghanistan. He also thought how stupid he’d been to not pack enough dental floss.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

Have you ever read a fiction novel but felt as if you were reading a true account of events instead? This was my experience while reading Patricia Furstenberg’s Silent Heroes… her storytelling is exquisite and engaging, but also it is quite obvious that an enormous amount of research went into this novel. Although it is fiction, Patricia Furstenberg has created a book that is frighteningly accurate as far as life in Afghanistan, war, and all of those it affects… Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.” (Jennifer, Book Reviewer)

The tension Furstenberg creates is torture as you are on edge at every page turn never knowing if the path ahead is clear or deadly… Furstenberg’s writing is brutal and honest. There are some pretty grim scenes as you would imagine in a war story but Furstenberg has a way that catches the grittiness and unpleasantness of it all that makes you realise that we shouldn’t look away, this has to been seen and needs to be stopped.” (Emma, Book Reviewer)

a very well researched book written in a page-turning, sentimental style.” (Sara, Amazon Review)

Silent Heroes in Middle Eastern Literature

Silent Heroes #4 in Middle  Eastern Literature - how is my writing different in my genre

Is Afghanistan included in the Middle East? Afghanistan is part of the Greater Middle East, or the Middle East and North Africa. But, besides Amazon having only one category here, there is another reason why I included my book in it:

“‘Commander,’ said al Vizer and Marcos did not try to correct him, ‘have you ever wondered why this land here, that history labelled as the Middle East and Afghanistan is greatly affected by, is the only area in this big world of ours that always seems to need America’s help to achieve freedom and democracy? Have you ever wondered why the people of the Middle East and Central Asia are the only societies that every Western country on the face of the earth wants to help keep safe from imprisonment and torture? Why does the West think we need to be saved? Why are we any different from you?

‘God, whichever way you want to call Him, made us all the same. The only difference I see between me and you is my place of birth. And that, Commander, is not such a big difference.’”

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

How is my writing different in my genre?

I give a voice to all those involved in the war, soldiers and civilians. Men and women. Elderly and children. And I am impartial.

The beauty of language is expertly navigated by Furstenberg. She weaves together the words in an almost poetic way despite the prose nature of the novel… She does this at multiple points and there were definitely passages I reread just for the pure beauty of the words… I would also like to talk about Furstenberg’s portrayal of the people of Afghanistan. It is so nice to see this exploration of a diverse culture that isn’t stereotypical and full of extreme inaccuracies and prejudices.” (Book Review by Jen, licensed in World History with an emphasis on the Modern Middle East)

It is clear that the author did an amazing amount of research for this book. Over the last few years I have read many, many book written by our soldiers. All of these books were based on each soldier’s experiences. The author of “Silent Heroes” has captured the experiences of our military men and women.” (Strength, Amazon Review)

I don’t know if the author served in the Middle East, but if she didn’t, her research is phenomenal. She provides vivid details about daily life during a deployment, as well as the complexities of carrying out a mission, dealing with the constant threat of IEDs (bombs), and working with the local population. Small details made the story come to life.” (D.W.Peach, Amazon Review)

The author does a very good job in engaging us with the cast of this tragedy that has been playing out for hundreds of years.” (Sally Cronin, Author and Blogger)

Silent Heroes as a War & Military Action Fiction and Action Thriller Fiction

Reading at over 350 pages, people started Silent Heroes were soon completely sucked in. Written in an accessible and satisfying way, and based on scrupulous research, Silent Heroes offers a broad perspective on war.

The story is fast-paced, following three different threads: a group of Marines with their military working dogs, MWDs, an Afghan boy and a group of Taliban fighters. The action becomes a race against time, taking place over only a few days, and in fascinating locations.

As many of you know I’m not one to get emotionally attached to books but this one definitely had my emotions all over the place. It didn’t quite have me in tears but was very close. Any book that can do that is worth a bonus heart in my rating.” (Mani, Book Reviewer)

She (the author) has a great way of capturing their personalities and characteristics that engages the reader no matter what their age. Silent Heroes is another one of those books.” (Mandie Griffiths)

I’m still emotional after reading Silent Heroes. Patricia Furstenberg’s writing is concise and beautiful… Patricia Furstenberg’s research is tight and it makes this read all the more special… a heartfelt novel.” (Jesica Belmont)

A book about the dangers of doing the right thing, friendship in the most unexpected places, loyalty and betrayal, family, devotion, trauma. It speaks to the readers on so many levels, but the emotional response is the most overwhelming.” (Book Review by Crissu)

Not sure if Silent Heroes is the book for you?

This is my first ever military, Taliban, Marines novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is well researched, well written and very easy to follow. This is the first book I have read by this author, Pat has a wonderful style of storytelling, her passion for the subject shines through in her writing.” (Sheila, Amazon Review)

A well-researched and detailed novel that evokes so many emotions.” (Patricia Bunting, Amazon Review)

I’ve read a few war stories over the course of this year but none of them have been as insightful as this one. Patricia Furstenberg is a truly masterful writer who knows exactly how far to go to keep her readers glued to the pages.” (Amazon Review)

Silent Heroes

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Read about:
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Women’s Rights under Taliban
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Taliban’s Secret Lair
5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes

Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. The Afghan Desert

A story of deep humanity and thrilling action, Silent Heroes has impressive locations, like the Afghan Desert.

Rafik is the youngest character of Silent Heroes, a brave boy of about eight years of age with a big heart. He is an Afghan boy who takes a physical journey, but one of self-discovery and growth as well. Rafik is like any other civilian caught in a war zone. He is uprooted from his home village and what he does, traveling on a mission, is out of an instinct of self-preservation and desire to help.

Have you followed his journey so far? After arriving as an emergency at the medical facility of Camp Bastion Rafik ends up in the desert…

Away from his friends and their worry-free childhood.

children in Afghanistan -  silent heroes afghan desert

At his mother’s desperate request, Rafik leaves the false safety of his village behind yet his plans spin out of control and he ends up at Camp Bastion, later named Camp Shorabak, an international military camp in Afghanistan with a state the art medical facility.

Rafik should have only went from his home village of Nauzad to the hamlet nearby. Yet he is now further south, near Lashkar Gah city and fortress. The fortress is on the banks on the Helmand River, hidden from direct view by a hill. Lashkar Gah has a rich history behind it, once was even the winter capital of the Ghaznavidi Empire. It belonged to the same Turkish dynasty that conquered Afghanistan a thousand years back, bringing Islam along.

Rafik's journey - silent heroes afghan desert

Along these brown, rocky hills live farmers who breed sheep and camels, but Rafik meets none.

And he runs again… a little boy on a mission. I cannot hold his hand, he has to do it all on his own.

“A sense of foreboding took over him and his eyes shot open with a will of their own. A pair of grubby feet in dusty, old sandals and the edge of a filthy shalwar kameez appeared in his eye field as a menacing hand grabbed hold of his shirt collar, throwing him aside.”

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

Run, Rafik! Run!

“The boy stopped dead after rushing through the last row of doors, blinded and dazed by the bright daylight. His eyes hurt, his body overwhelmed by the outside temperature as if he had hit a solid, arid wall of heat and sand. ‘Where am I, where had they gone?’

Behind him, the vacuum noise of the hospital doors sealed the insides in an encased gigantic hangar.

Ahead, past the perimeter fence, the deadly desert. Five flags, barely soaring in the wind, rose to one side. One of them, bright red like his mother’s best dress, displayed a white cross with a snake. Past the five flags, two dark silhouettes were marching in a cloud of dust, heading towards an unkempt gathering of mud-walled compounds that sprouted along a field of opium poppy. Above their heads and heading north, two Harrier jets roar, having just taken off from Camp Bastion’s airfield, their wingtips luminous against the clear sky.”

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

And Rafik is gone again. Is he one of the Silent Heroes, soon to get lost in the Afghan desert? Not the right time, as it is the beginning of the long, scorching, and arid Afghan summer. Here, over the course of the year the temperature typically varies from 35°F to 108°F.

“Behind everything and everyone, dragging his feet under the midday sun and with only a gush of wind for a company came Rafik. Now crawling, now running, now letting himself fall to the ground in an attempt to conceal himself, looking more like a desert dog than a human being. For each stride the men took trough the sand, the boy’s wobbly legs took two, yet he pushed on, his eyes on the twin menacing shapes, his attention wrestling an army of questions, his legs moving forward with a mind of their own.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Afghan desert military area - Silent Heroes
The Afghan desert is not your stereotype of rolling dunes and golden sand.

Where will help come from? What shape will it take?

“As he stood above him, the dog seemed twice as big as the child due to his shaggy mane, thicker around the neck, and his reassured posture. His shoulder blades moved accentuating his strong physique, yet for all that muscle he was as gentle as the moon. In seconds, the boy’s face was covered in slobber, the dog’s sandpaper tongue sliding all over the pale skin, doing a perfect job at cleaning all the dried-out blood.”

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
military working dog

Desert symbolism

Because of their isolation, deserts often symbolize clarity and revelation. Purity too, as they are unspoiled landscapes. Yet the desert is a difficult terrain, threatening, challenging. It is a symbol for challenges, both physical and spiritual. It is a struggle calling onto the traveler’s deepest reserves.

Yet there is no adversity between the spiritual and the physical. Although deserts have been seen as the ultimate purging landscape by hermits, prophets, seers, the ultimate holy ground, it is the spiritual strength they enhance in humans that eventually augments the individual.

Thus deserts, through the personal conflicts they call upon, bring humankind the closest to heavens.

Rafik’s journey through Silent Heroes does not end here, in the Afghan desert, with the mere warm support of a friendly military dog. There is more for this young boy to encounter and survive to before he can call his home a home again. Before he can close his eyes and fall asleep feeling secure in his own bed.

Silent Heroes

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

You might also like to have a look at these 30 Photos From Afghanistan That You Won’t See In The News.