If a picture is really worth a thousand words, here is a 22,000 word essay on one of the most neglected, yet hopeful, changes in our region, the quiet revolution in the education of Muslim women, even in the most traditional parts of Arab countries. The photographer, I am proud to say, is my daughter-in-law, Amy Thompson Avishai, who spent most of her childhood years in Morocco, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia--she was the child of an American military attaché--and returned to Morocco on a Fulbright scholarship to photograph the Dar Taliba Girls' School in El Hanchane--as she writes, "a small dusty town between the tourist spots of Marrakesh and Essaouira."

The pictures are so vivid and humane I won't comment on them, except to say that they remind me, as few other essays do, of the slow trickle of enlightenment I felt at that age. I wonder (and wonder seems the very word) about deprivation and gratitude and attention span. I feel, I confess, a twinge of envy. And wonder about parts of our world that are sliding back.