Jayne on the Associated Press NewsWire -- not kidding
July 21, 2007

For six months in 2007, I worked in Kabul, Afghanistan, helping a government ministry there with communications functions. I maintained a blog via a private Yahoo Group for friends and family, and I cleaned up those blogs later for public consumption and published them here in my web site. The last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published while I was in Kabul, and because the head of Paxton International, a logistics and moving company, bought 50 copies of the book in Dubai at 3:01 a.m. Saturday and brought them back to Kabul later that morning, I got the book sooner than anyone I know in the whole wide world. Below is the resulting story that went out via the Associated Press. You can also read how this came to be....

Jayne with Harry Potter book

Harry Potter debuts in Afghanistan, too

Associated Press Writer AP
Saturday, July 21

KABUL, Afghanistan - People in war zones want to read Harry Potter, too.

About 50 lucky foreigners working in Afghanistan got their hands on copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" on its release date Saturday, beating many of their friends back home who live near more conventional bookstores.

"I sent several text messages to friends and none of them had it yet, and they all said 'I can't believe you're in Kabul and you got the book before us,'" said Jayne Cravens, 41, of Henderson, Kentucky, a U.N. worker.

John Connolly, an executive with Paxton International, a logistics and moving company, bought 50 copies of the book in Dubai at the exact time of its release in London. He boarded a plane to Kabul a couple of hours later with the books on board.

"Harry Potter is released worldwide at the same time. As a logistics company based in Afghanistan for five years, we saw every reason to include Afghanistan," said Connolly, who asked customers to donate a book to the American University in Kabul in exchange for the free shipping of the book. "It was not on the publisher's list, that's for sure."

Connolly said customs agents in Kabul just smiled at the books and waved him through. Soon after he called Cravens, who rushed to Paxton's office and ran inside "like she was 9 years old on Christmas morning."

"It was absolutely wonderful watching her jump up and down. She definitely got the bicycle she'd asked Santa for," Connolly said. "That's the kind of reaction we're getting."

Steve Landrigan, of Boston, Massachusetts, called it a "great joy" to be able to read Harry on its release date in Afghanistan, a location where newly released books and movies are a rare treat.

"In Afghanistan you need to laugh and to have pleasant things happen, and I think this book is going to be one of those things," he said.

Cravens said her computer broke down on Saturday with a virus, giving her ample time to read. She was on page 100 when a reporter called her several hours after she picked up her copy.

"I thought it was a great idea for the company to do this. I can't believe it," she said. "There are so many things you can't get in Kabul, but you can get Harry Potter on the day it's released."

Read how this came to be....


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