An unusually courageous war correspondent shares his dispatches from the frontlines of Afghanistan.
Filmmaker and journalist Anderson spent five years embedded with the British and American forces in Afghanistan, primarily in Helmand, “the country’s most violent province.” Armed only with a video camera, he accompanied his hosts on hundreds of excursions to forward positions, staying “as little time as possible on the main bases, where not much ever happens.” Anderson’s thousands of hours of recorded video allow him to clear away the fog of war, recounting precisely what happened in some of the most chaotic and stressful situations humans can experience. With humor, compassion and a fine eye for detail, the author meticulously pieces together each scene with the skill of a good choreographer. While the book is too atmospheric and action-based to have much of a grand political narrative, Anderson’s central contention is that our strategy in Afghanistan is confused and ineffectual, and the Taliban is confidently reestablishing its networks of authority throughout the country. The Afghan National Army ("a heavily-armed, badly-dressed version of the Keystone Kops. On drugs"), now taking responsibility for most areas, is poorly trained and motivated and of dubious loyalty. The efforts of Anderson’s unit to win hearts and minds were constantly stymied by civilian deaths, communication problems and the great remove from which policymakers view the landscape.
An engrossing blow-by-blow account of the nuts and bolts of modern warfare.