One journalist's personal odyssey through war, friendship and craftsmanship along the old Silk Route.
Carpets are one of the most common objects found in Western homes, but the stories behind their creation - religions, political, tribal - are virtually unknown and as complex and baffling as the motifs which adorn them.
In 1990, Christopher Kremmer arrived in Afghanistan to interview the doomed communist-backed president, Dr Najibullah, as the rampaging armies of the mujahideen massed on the outskirts of the capital Kabul. On the floor of the president's office was a superb handmade carpet, in a classic design and dyed the colour of pomegranate. Thus began Kremmer's obsession for carpets and the "perfect rug", an obsession that over the next decade saw him trace the threads of the carpet-making trade through the Islamic nations of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Along the way he made lifelong friendships and encountered everyone from nomads on portable handlooms to managers of mechanised production units to shady merchants in souks and bazaars. But he also found societies ripped apart by war, religion and fratricide, and ruled over by warlords such as "The Lion of Panjsher" Ahmed Shah Massoud, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and Pakistan's coup leader General Pervaiz Musharraf, men who are the subjects of revealing, often first-hand portraits and whose violent actions and predations have further shored up the bulwark between Islam and the West.
'The Carpet Wars' tells the story of Kremmer's amazing journey and his fascinating but fraught experiences in one of the most ancient, misunderstood and least-touristed parts of the world. It is an impassioned plea for tolerance and understanding, and for breaking down the seemingly impenetrable barriers of paranoia, ignorance and hate which continue to divide the world of the twenty-first century.