45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Fasinating and sobering. How much blood and treasure...,
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This review is from: Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan (Kindle Edition)
must be wasted before we as a country learn the basic lessons about war and nation building.
Little America is a must read for those interested in the Afghanistan War or have been affected by it.
Mr. Chandrasekaran spends the first part of the book on history and the setup. The next part is about the War and the inner working of what went on behind closed doors and the personalities involved. He devotes pages in blistering criticism of the embassy staff, contractors and USAID. In fairness he uses too broad a brush, as noted by the one star reviews but I don't think anyone looking at the facts would disagree the US's efforts were grossly ineffectual. The final part exploring how different approaches to the war/reconstruction might have been better and/or more successful but I felt the book lost some momentum towards the end.
The strength of the book lies in the access Mr. Chandrasekaran had to high level internal meetings, then transitioning to the the lowly lance corporals tasked with carrying out the directives. The book focuses so much on what went wrong, I'd like to see more of what went right but that doesn't make for good headlines. There are moving moments of personal sacrifice and heroism. While some personalities were called out specifically, I'd be interested in reading more personal stories, from both sides (US and Afgani). I'm sure there are a ton of examples people trying to do the right thing and this book doesn't give them a lot of coverage.
In the end this is a solid book, very much worth reading. Some criticisms made by other reviews are valid but should not keep one from reading the book.
PS - I am confident there were good people in the embassy/USAID but I find it ironic that those who gave the book 1* seem to have missed the forest for the trees. This book, and the issues covered are bigger than the problems discussed in the embassy/USAID section. By focusing their reviews on one small element and dismissing the rest of the work proves the author's point about the Washington politicos and their tendency to be petty, arrogant and self-centered.