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Farewell Kabul: From Afghanistan To A More Dangerous World Paperback – May 3, 2016
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‘Afghanistan looked to be a noble cause… But it didn't work. What went wrong? Christina Lamb has been there from the start. She knows. When you read Farewell Kabul, you will too’ Lieutenant General (Ret) Daniel Bolger, author Why We Lost
‘As a personal account of this sad, twisted story, Lamb's book is unlikely to be surpassed; gracious and humane, she always gives a fair hearing, while her observation is always needle sharp. It is one of the most rewarding and thought-provoking books by any journalist of my acquaintance’ Evening Standard
‘This is a journey through more than a decade of hell and futility, written vividly, with emotion but mercifully shorn of polemic … in this most captivating of war journals’ Observer
‘A spellbinding synthesis of analysis and highly personal reportage … Lamb's grasp of the back story enables her to weave illuminating historical context into the narrative’ Independent
‘She records with a clear eye and a longer perspective her successive encounters with the Afghans and their occupiers …she writes with sympathy and understanding … For anyone who wants to understand how Britain's road to Helmand was paved with well-meant but ill-founded intentions this magisterial memoir is the book to read and enjoy’ The Times
‘A brave and exceptional book … if you had to recommend one book on Afghanistan then ‘Farewell Kabul’ should be it" Daily Telegraph
‘Lamb's account is an ambitious mix of analysis and anecdote’ James Rubin, Sunday Times
‘Authoritative, wide-ranging and thoroughly readable, Lamb's knowledge and understanding of the region and its central players are impressively profound … Highly recommended’ Literary Review
‘A very good book … that sits with distinction in a growing library about where we – both Afghans and the international community – went wrong … Lamb has a forensic understanding of how things work and why they don’t. An impassioned, at moments anguished, love letter to Afghanistan’ New Statesman
About the Author
Christina Lamb is Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Sunday Times. She was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in all the British media awards in 2002 for her reporting on the war on terrorism. She has won numerous other awards starting with Young Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards for her coverage of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a country she has been reporting on since she was 21, News Reporter of the Year, Foreign Reporter of the Year in the British Press Awards and What the Papers Say Awards. Her knowledge of Afghanistan spans 16 years and her contacts in the region are unrivalled. She is the author of the best-selling The Africa House as well as Waiting For Allah – Pakistan's struggle for democracy, The Sewing Circles of Herat, My Afghan Years and House of Stone. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and inveterate traveller, she was educated at Oxford University from which she holds a degree in politics, philosophy and economics. She is married with a young son and lives between London and Portugal.
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Top Customer Reviews
Two corpses dangling from a lamp post. I’ll never forget that sight. It was September 1996 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Former Communist ruler Najibullah and an aide were strung up after the Taleban captured the city. The pair looked like wax dummies. Najibullah had blood stains on his face and clothing. Money was hanging from his pockets and cigarettes were jammed in between his fingers. These were said to be symbols of corruption. I was reporting for Voice of America at the time.
So why did America enter a no-win war in the “graveyard of empires” as Afghanistan is known? The Afghans spit out a Russian army in 1989 and swallowed an entire British Army one-century-and-a-half before. Veteran British Journalist Christina Lamb has a good breakdown of what happened in “Farewell Kabul – From Afghanistan to a More Dangerous World.” Her take after spending two-and-a-half decades as a foreign correspondent, large parts of that in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
American, British, and Pakistani generals give us the story along with then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Lamb even survives an ambush with a British army patrol to get the infantryman’s point of view. The folly of death and destruction has many players.
Lamb breaks down the beginnings of the jihadist movement that is now ripping up the Mideast and even reached across the Atlantic to America on 9/11. You can see the layers of wrong decisions and poor judgment pile up until things go critical. It’s a tragedy of errors. America is betrayed by an ally, Pakistan, that harbored forces killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In one case, she reports a Pakistani soldier shot an American officer to death in Pakistan, though the incident was whitewashed at the time. Of course Pakistan sheltered America’s number one public enemy, Osama bin Laden, for years.
Lamb fills in the details of a blundering policy that saw America drawn into a vortex of death and destruction. She shows how vast amounts of U.S. aid were funneled through Pakistani intelligence to the most radical, anti-western jihadist factions in Afghanistan to defeat the Russians. A policy that turned Pakistani madrassas into breeding grounds for jihadist killers, a trend that eventually came back to sting the United States, and even Pakistan itself
Lamb also gets “up close and personal” with the beleaguered Hamid Karzai, who was Afghan President after the initial defeat of the Taleban. Karzai was once the darling of Washington but fell out of favor when he could not deliver. He became isolated, confined to his palace for security reasons. He kept a family of pet deer in Kabul and was proud of his collection of English poets—Keats, Poe, Shelley and Tennyson. He resented being called the “mayor of Kabul,” a slur suggesting he did not rule over the whole country.
I interviewed Karzai a couple of times in Pakistan in the mid-1990’s. He was articulate and well informed. I did not imagine he would become President of Afghanistan.
If you want to get a pretty good idea of what went wrong, this is the book for you.
Lamb began her journalistic odyssey innocently enough. She first went to Pakistan in 1987 as a 21-year-old correspondent for Benazir Bhutto’s wedding. That life-cycle ended when Bhutto was killed in a suicide bombing and shooting attack almost 20 years later. It kind of sums up the way things go in that part of the world. What a sad state of affairs. So why did America stick its hand into the hornet’s nest?
An old school foreign correspondents, Ms Lamb reminds one of what true journalism is all about. Risking one's life to learn and report the truth, to constantly strive to gain a deeper understanding, no matter how complicated the whole picture will turn out to be. A refreshing voice in the days when newsrooms no longer spent money on gathering news, replaced by embedded and chaperoned tourist journalists, who only get to report what they are shown during their brief visits, not to mention the multitude of other reasons, that have turned the news into what we are being fed nowadays. I had never heard of her, but have become a real fan. Don't miss out on this book and don't be daunted by its size. It is a page turner and you will be done before incorporating it into your daily work out routine. I can't wait for her next book!
How could the western powers have wasted so much money and so many lives and made Islamic extremism even more widespread today than ever before