Insightful, knowledgeable account of the "good war," intimately informed from the trenches.



Using as a model Jeffrey Race’s influential first-person Vietnam War–era analysis, War Comes to Long An, Malkasian (A History of Modern Wars of Attrition, 2002, etc.) evenhandedly examines the Garmser district in southern Afghanistan, where he was stationed as a political officer for the State Department between 2009 and 2011.

A desert strip intersected by the Helmand River, populated by the Pashtun and embroiled in the conflicts that have gained Afghanistan the epithet “graveyard of empires,” Garmser has proven to be the “hot place” designated by its very name, changing hands constantly among tribes and imperial powers. Since 1946, it has also been the key site of massive canal-modernization schemes subsidized by the West, requiring an injection of landless immigrant workers who would prove faithful supporters of the Taliban. Malkasian does a thorough job of sifting through the messy political turmoil since 1979, which slowly began to tear the place apart, and sticking to the effect on the people who live and toil there. In the 1980s, the tribal-led mujahedeen gained steam against the Soviet-backed communists, creating new leaders; the jihad sustained a kind of historical “mystique” as a time when all Muslims fought together before devolving into civil war. The Taliban’s arrival in 1994 established stability by controlling crime and violence, managing to govern what many considered an ungovernable country. The decade since the American invasion of 2001 caused much hardship for the people of Garmser, Malkasian writes. The Taliban retook the district in 2006 as a result of lost opportunities by the U.S., requiring subsequent massive intervention, reconstruction and political realignment. Will the Taliban return? Have U.S. counterinsurgency efforts paid off, and, most poignantly, has the investment of 100,000 troops made any difference? Malkasian offers slim optimism in this deeply engaging work.

Insightful, knowledgeable account of the "good war," intimately informed from the trenches. 

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0199973750

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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