by Kim Barker
Anchor Books (Penguin Random House)
Description: Kim Barker is not your typical, impassive foreign correspondent—she is candid, self-deprecating, laugh-out-loud funny. At first an awkward newbie in Afghanistan, she grows into a wisecracking, seasoned reporter with grave concerns about our ability to win hearts and minds in the region. In The Taliban Shuffle, Barker offers an insider’s account of the “forgotten war” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, chronicling the years after America’s initial routing of the Taliban, when we failed to finish the job.
When Barker arrives in Kabul, foreign aid is at a record low, electricity is a pipe dream, and of the few remaining foreign troops, some aren’t allowed out after dark. Meanwhile, in the vacuum left by the U.S. and NATO, the Taliban is regrouping as the Afghan and Pakistani governments flounder. Barker watches Afghan police recruits make a travesty of practice drills and observes the disorienting turnover of diplomatic staff. She is pursued romantically by the former prime minister of Pakistan and sees adrenaline-fueled colleagues disappear into the clutches of the Taliban. And as her love for these hapless countries grows, her hopes for their stability and security fade.
Swift, funny, and wholly original, The Taliban Shuffleunforgettably captures the absurdities and tragedies of life in a war zone
The Good Stuff
- Intriguing opening chapter
- Fascinating women, I loved her dry, sarcastic and self deprecating humour
- Learned a lot about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Such a fascinating and outwordly place. As an ignorant white middle class women, it seems like a hell I would never want to visit. Barker helps you understand the culture and the history. Still not on my bucket list, but I am intrigued now. But again I just want to smack them upside the head about their need for revenge.
- Wild to know that a man trained as a surgeon would make more money at being a Fixer than as a Doctor. (Farouq)
- Found myself wanting to learn about NATO and how effective they actually are
- Choppy and the flow of the story was just off for me. Note though I read most of it on public transportation which can be distracting at times.
- You can tell she is American
- I really think this part of the world should be forced to watch the episode of Doctor Who called "The Zygon Inversion" over and over until the idea about forgiveness sinks in (ok this has nothing to do with the book - but still think it holds true!)
"Male Ethnic Pashtuns loved flowers and black eyeliner and anything fluorescent or sparkly, maybe to make up for the beige terrain that stretched forever in Afghanistan, maybe to look pretty"
I knew why. Afghanistan seemed familiar It had jagged blue-and-purple mountains, big skies and bearded men in pickup trucks loaded with guns and hate of the government It was just like Montana-just on different drugs."
"An ass grab was about humiliation and, of course, the feeling of some men in the country that Western women needed sex like oxygen, and that if a Pakistani man just happened to put himself in her path or pinch her when the sex urge came on, he'd get lucky. I blame Hollywood."
"But somehow, where skills, talent and perseverance had failed, my unremarkable ass had delivered."
“I had seen more death—the tsunami, two different earthquakes. But I could somehow understand natural disasters. This was a human disaster, and I couldn’t make sense of the hate.”
I reviewed this because Cammy recommended it and I always read what he suggests.