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Fighting for Afghanistan: A Rogue Historian at War Hardcover – September 15, 2011
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“Dr. Sean Maloney’s Fighting for Afghanistan has captured a sense of the emotions that take place in warfare with a tactical “ground eye” view of the actions of Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan in 2006. An associate professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, the author has a keen eye for detail as a historian but still provides his personal outlook and range of emotions during a particularly difficult time in the Afghanistan war. Obviously he was granted extraordinary access to both the planning and execution of operations, gaining the perspectives of both senior leaders and soldiers on the ground…. Fighting for Afghanistan is well written, well researched, and relevant for military audiences. For those who have served in Afghanistan, it will be particularly interesting.” ― Air Force Research Institute
“This book is an easy to read, enjoyable, well written and engaging piece....This reviewer confesses to not having read Mahoney’s first two installments of the trilogy, to this end, it can be said that Fighting for Afghanistan is a book which can be read as a stand-alone piece in itself, as well as being a gateway piece which compels the reader to find the predecessors and read up on Mahoney’s previous visits to the war zone. His 'rogue history' provides a compendium of anecdotes, lessons and commentary that would be beneficial for staff colleges and training institutions of armed forces around the world, even if to only provide a footnote in the study of modern warfare.”
― Headmark, the quarterly journal of the Australian Naval Institute, published out of the Australian Capital Territory
"Fighting for Afghanistan is written in an informal but highly readable style, and is interspersed with considerable humour. Maloney openly acknowledges that his story is highly personal and not ‘traditional narrative’. His esteem for his Canadian military colleagues is clearly evident throughout. He closes his acknowledgments by stating that ‘Fighting for Afghanistan is the best I can do to put you into the fight, so you can see our people in action in one of the toughest combat environments in the world’. Maloney’s book is just one of an ever growing number that contribute to providing different perspectives on the present war in Afghanistan. The fact that this particular perspective is provided by a ‘rogue historian’, from a nation that ‘punched above its weight’, makes it all the more valuable. ― Australian Defence Force Journal
“This book is a masterful blend of embedded reporting, military history, and incisive analysis of the challenges of waging counter-insurgency (COIN) warfare in a 21st century coalition. Maloney effortlessly blends history, analysis, cogent observation, and first-person reporting to show just how difficult a time the Canadians had and what they were able to accomplish with the resources at hand. This book also serves as a scene-setter to understand why the U.S. had to send the majority of troops into these two provinces as the focus of the Afghanistan surge of 2010. The sourcing of additional material was good and the list of provided acronyms was crucial to avoid getting bogged down in an excess of jargon throughout the text. This is the final book of Maloney's trilogy on his embeds in Afghanistan and is the capstone to a well-written series of primary accounts of our NATO allies’ involvement in what will soon become America's longest war.” ― Journal of Military History
“Overall, I found the book interesting and provocative. The writing is crisp and moves quickly. I strongly recommend the book to military historians, military practitioners, and the general public. In the end, it provides an excellent snapshot of COIN in the Afghan theatre of operation during Spring/Summer 2006.”
― Revue Militaire Canadienne / Canadian Military Journal, Spring 2012
“A book by a specialist that will be best appreciated by other specialists, but Maloney also provides general readers with a bird's-eye view of how the war in Afghanistan has been fought.”
― Kirkus Reviews
"Why NATO is all acronyms and no fight. A devastating portrait of combat directed by bureaucrats.”
―BING WEST, bestselling author of The Village, The Strongest Tribe, and The Wrong War
“Dr. Sean Maloney has written a compelling and engaging account, combining first-person combat experience with the insights of a military historian and an Afghan veteran. Maloney provides an in-depth account that goes to the heart of what really happened in the most intense fighting of the current Afghanistan conflict.”
―DAVID ISBY, author of Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires
“Sean Maloney has produced another tour de force! His Fighting for Afghanistan shows the problems and pitfalls of coalition warfare using the philosophy of ‘fix the problem, not the blame.’ This is a first-rate, first-person, down-in-the-weeds account of coalition efforts in Afghanistan’s southland in 2006. Maloney writes contemporary history that reads well. His insight and concern for soldiers and humanity are evident behind his factual, often acerbic, but always enjoyable writing style. Encore, encore!”
―LES GRAU, author and editor of The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost
“This is a superb micro-history of one part of a multiphase war―written not from 10,000 feet but from ground level―by a combat-trained historian who looks people, conflicts, personalities, and suffering in the eye . . . and spares the reader no vital fact or observation.”
― SENATOR HUGH SEGAL (Conservative, Ontario), former chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, twice chair of the Special Senate Committee on Anti Terrorism, and a Senior Fellow at the Queen's University School of Policy Studies
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Because he knows many of the senior Canadian officers and other ranks on a first name basis, this "rogue historian" lives up to his nickname by gaining full access to discussions both at Aegis' Joint Operations Centre and at meetings with senior Afghan government officials, as well as when he joined the battle group tactical headquarters whenever it headed off into remote parts of both Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The vote of confidence accorded him by the fighting troops is very evident when, as the battle group prepares to head out on one key operation, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hope calls out to him to get his kit:."You're coming with us on this one." This rare access, probably not provided to such an extent to any other historian or journalist, allows Maloney to describe the events in all these operations better than any other source has done, even quoting statements made by participants at critical moments. To get the record right, he even makes notes during a night fire fight, by the light of a red-filtered flashlight on a field message pad in a lightly-armoured G-Wagon.Read more ›
Like many an army spin doctor, Maloney portrays the conquest, occupation and unaccountable exploitation of Afghanistan as a humane gesture by a selfless army. There is no doubt that most Canadian soldiers--and, I would go so far as to say (unlike the United States, Russia, and other major powers), even commanders--are well-meaning, decent professionals. Their mission in Afghanistan, however, was a bloody, secretive charade conducted in near-impunity from start to finish, and it's no surprise that Canada, NATO and the United States officially pull out with the country in shaky shape.
The summary vilification of the enemy is unsurprising and fairly standard, as is the gung-ho cheerleading of the Canada force and its partners, both in the predatory Kabul regime and the corrupt international forces. Nonetheless, Maloney's interviews with leaders from both sides are interesting if only in their revelation of the author's own hard-wired, selective biases. "May God's peace be upon you," Maloney greets the captured Taliban commander, a terminally sick Mullah Ibrahim; thhe greeting is apparently meant to show his knowledge of the natoives' faith and culture.Read more ›