Caravans James Mirchener a professor and above all an adventurer wonderfully depicts' the great country of Afghanistan in this post World War II historical fiction. This novel sets a great example of the realities of the world and is in great opposite to the "apple pie and picket fences" dream that is embedded in American society. This book is much greater in that it enters the reader into a far land full of wonder, ugliness, and the horrible facts of life.
The novel begins in Afghanistan with a young state department official receiving an order to find a white woman who married an Afghan; and is now missing. The quest takes this young man deep into the Afghan way of life. He finds this culture very primitive and is the audience to many experiences he considers unjust. Women covered head to tow and "Mullahs" maintaining strict religious order encapsulates his disgust in the social hierarchy of Afghanistan. Finally after journeying across the harsh desert he finally finds the young woman for which he was searching. She has completely changed and all the assumptions of her disappearance were totally false. Ellen Jasper fled from her Afghan husband to join a Nomadic tribe.
The novel was written in very easy English vernacular. It was intended for the general public and not some academic institution. The text is organized into chapters which starts from the beginning of the story and ends at the last chapter.
This novel has many interesting themes and at times shocking predictions of the future of Afghanistan. One of the themes, which are clearly apparent in the Novel, is the idea that Afghanistan needs reform and western influence. This is seen many times in the Novel by main characters such as Moheb Shah and Miller commenting on the weakness of the Afghan government to remove the Chaderi (cloth worn over Afghan women). Also, another indication of this idea is the fact that mostly all of the learned men in Afghanistan studied in western universities and are considered the elite of society. Another theme that this novel implies is the danger of socialism encroaching upon Afghanistan. At times Miller states, "if Afghanistan does not get rid of the Chaderi, the Russians will." There seems to be an underlying motive in this novel to warn the reader of the Russian involvement in Afghanistan. This is even supported by Radcliff the FBI agent that is really in Afghanistan to study the Communists activity in the south of Afghanistan.