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 expensive wars in recent history. The story of how this good war went so bad may well turn out to be a defining tragedy of the twenty-first century - yet, as acclaimed war correspondent Jack Fairweather explains, it should also give us reason to hope for an outcome grounded in Afghan reality. 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 Drawing on hundreds of interviews, previously unpublished archives, and months of experience living and reporting in Afghanistan, Fairweather traces the course of the conflict from its inception after 9/11 to the draw down in 2014. In the process, he explores the righteous intentions and astounding hubris that caused the West's strategy in Afghanistan to flounder, refuting the long-held notion that the war could have been won with more troops and cash.
Fairweather argues that only by accepting the limitations in Afghanistan - from the presence of the Taliban to the ubiquity of poppy production to the country's inherent unsuitability for rapid, Western-style development - can we help to restore peace in this shattered land. With a timely lesson in the perils of nation-building and a sobering reminder of the limits of military power, The Good War leads readers from the White House Situation Room to Afghan military outposts, from warlords' palaces to insurgents' dens, to explain how the US and its British allies might have salvaged the Afghan campaign - and how we must rethink other 'good' wars in the future.
A searing look at the true cost of America's 'good war' in Afghanistan
"An excellent account. The outline of Fairweather's story is sadly familiar, but he writes with exceptional lucidity and punch... No British officer should be allowed to board a plane for our next war until he has read Fairweather's account of how we messed up the last one." -- Max Hastings Sunday Times "Jack Fairweather's sweeping account, The Good War, is one of the first to look at the war as a whole... His richly narrated history roams from the corridors of the White House to the poppy palaces of the country's opium warlords and the patrol bases of Sangin and Kandahar... As the West looks at the chaos of Iraq and Syria and once more considers how to intervene, the sobering warnings of this riveting book are more relevant than ever." -- Ben Farmer, 4 stars Daily Telegraph "Powerful." -- James Meek London Reviews of Books "Combines first-hand war reporting with shrewd analysis of the western conduct of the war, [readers] will quickly come to understand what went wrong." Financial Times "The Good War is a tour de force - a riveting, clear-eyed account of the troubled US-led war in Afghanistan. Jack Fairweather has shown himself to be a narrative historian of the first order. For anyone seeking an honest appraisal of what went wrong and why, this book is a must-read." -- Jon Lee Anderson, author of 'The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan'
A foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and the Washington Post, Jack Fairweather is currently Middle East editor and correspondent for Bloomberg News. He lives in Istanbul, Turkey.