The Afghanistan War told by three people to a foreigner. Three war stories or rather the recollections and anecdotal experiences of three people. That’s statistically insignificant. So is the well-written, poorly thought through book that utterly fails to explain the war.

Even worse, it attempts to explain how America bungled the invasion of Afghanistan, a place that trained and still trains assassins to invade America and murder innocent people. One of the characters is a Taliban commander of some rag-tag oaf’s. He cannot read. He cannot buy shoes. What’s so vital about his observations? How important are his ideas about the War against Terror and Terrorists? Is he the heart and soul of the Taliban? Answer? No, he is not. Why did Anand Gopal choose to write about him? In the entire book there’s no answer. Same for the other two people.

The book has some redeeming information although it’s information insufficient to justify it’s existence. It shows a barren, desolate land peopled by a culture that’s mostly pre-sixteenth century. The first character is Mullah Cable, a bandit. “He would search your house for weapons and when he didn’t find any he would bring out his whip, a cable.” That’s how the Taliban Mullah got his name. From a steel cable he wielded to torture people and he’s the commander with whom author Gopal opens his account against America. He’s the enemy from whom President Obama ran.

Obama said in his State of the Union: “Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.”

Really? The 180,000 troops “kept us safe”. That’s what he said. Is the danger from Terrorists over? If the troops were necessary to keep us safe why did the leave? Are we in danger? Author Gopal answers yes while Obama says no. This is confusion and double talk worthy of the dystopian novel: “1984”.

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