An Undesirable Element: An Afghan Memoir by Sharif Fayez and Matt Trevithick

This is the incredible story of a relentless educator named Sharif Fayez, born in 1946 in Herat, Afghanistan, who bore witness to the Communist invasion of 1979, the Iranian revolution of 1979, and who authored a ground breaking PhD dissertation that forever linked the best American poetry to Afghanistan by proving that Walt Whitman had read and been inspired by Rumi.

Not a slow or plodding autobiography (or tome on Afghanistan), this book - at just 130 pages without a single extra word - is the tale of an amazing man’s life, who ultimately played an indispensable role in the development of Afghanistan’s post-2001 education system, with an introduction written by former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker.

It is the story of how Sharif pursues education above all else and becomes a professor at Kabul University only to flee illegally to Iran when the Soviets invade, where he becomes caught in the violent Islamic revolution as a professor at Mashad University.

Surviving the Afghan and Iranian governments’ ruthless campaign to silence academics and their students, as well as the Iran-Iraq War, he becomes a prominent voice of resistance against the Taliban and extremism in the 1990s, writing hundreds of articles, and ultimate returns to Afghanistan as a signatory to the Bonn Conference and as the Minister of Higher Education. He completely overhauls the Afghan education system, restores co-education to the country, and establishes six new universities. He currently works as the Founder of the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul.