From an award-winning Middle East correspondent and war reporter, the definitive history of the war in Afghanistan
In its earliest days, the American-led war in Afghanistan appeared to be a triumph — a "good war" in comparison to the debacle in Iraq. It has since turned into one of the longest and most costly wars in U.S. history. The story of how this good war went so bad may well turn out to be a defining tragedy of the 21st century — yet as acclaimed war correspondent Jack Fairweather ex-plains, it should also give us reason to hope.
In The Good War, Fairweather provides the first full narrative history of the war in Afghanistan, from the 2001 invasion to the 2014 withdrawal. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and months of reporting in Afghanistan, Fairweather traces the course of the conflict from its inception after 9/11 to the drawdown in 2014. In the process, he explores the righteous intentions and astound-ing hubris that caused the American strategy in Afghanistan to flounder, refuting the long-held notion that the war could have been won more troop and cash. Fairweather argues that only by accepting the limitations in Afghanistan — from the presence of the Taliban to the ubiquity of the opium trade to the country's unsuitability for rapid Western-style development — can Amer-ica help to restore peace in this shattered land.
A timely lesson in the perils of nation-building and a sobering reminder of the limits of Ameri-can power, The Good War leads readers from the White House situation room to American mili-tary outposts, from warlords' palaces to insurgents' dens, to explain how the U.S. and its allies might have salvaged the Afghan campaign — and how we must rethink other "good" wars in the future
“Fairweather’s richly-narrated history of the conflict is a soft-spoken but scathing indictment of military tactics and lack of preparation.”
“A thorough, elegant reassessment of America's 'irresistible illusion.'”
“A remarkable account of the longest shooting war in American history. The Good War is the kind of book one would not ordinarily expect to see for decades, encyclopedic in sweep and yet rich with colorful detail. Jack Fairweather writes with respect but often damning insight. He seems to have digested everything written about the war, and to have talked with every player, open and clandestine. This timely, absorbing narrative captures the essence of an infuriating place, illustrating once again a seemingly unlearnable lesson: There are strict limits to what can be accomplished by force.”
—Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
“It has been America’s longest war, yet there is no real history of the conflict in Afghanistan. Now this war has finally found its chronicler. Jack Fairweather has reported deeply from the White House Situation Room to the deserts of Kandahar to tell a riveting story with an outsized cast of characters. It's a sweeping work of history written with great verve.”
—Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbotta-bad