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10-21-2014, 08:48 PM
No Good Men Among The Living: America, The Taliban and The War through Afgan Eyes a book by Anand Gopal

Google books preview:

Told through the lives of three Afghans, the stunning tale of how the United States had triumph in sight in Afghanistan—and then brought the Taliban back from the dead

In a breathtaking chronicle, acclaimed journalist Anand Gopal traces in vivid detail the lives of three Afghans caught in America’s war on terror. He follows a Taliban commander, who rises from scrawny teenager to leading insurgent; a US-backed warlord, who uses the American military to gain personal wealth and power; and a village housewife trapped between the two sides, who discovers the devastating cost of neutrality.

Through their dramatic stories, Gopal shows that the Afghan war, so often regarded as a hopeless quagmire, could in fact have gone very differently. Top Taliban leaders actually tried to surrender within months of the US invasion, renouncing all political activity and submitting to the new government. Effectively, the Taliban ceased to exist—yet the Americans were unwilling to accept such a turnaround. Instead, driven by false intelligence from their allies and an unyielding mandate to fight terrorism, American forces continued to press the conflict, resurrecting the insurgency that persists to this day.

With its intimate accounts of life in war-torn Afghanistan, Gopal’s thoroughly original reporting lays bare the workings of America’s longest war and the truth behind its prolonged agony. A heartbreaking story of mistakes and misdeeds, No Good Men Among the Living challenges our usual perceptions of the Afghan conflict, its victims, and its supposed winners.

I don't have a book, but interview with author convinced me it's a really good work, must have for anyone who is really interested.


.. a piece when tells about Taliban prisoners, who have been put into Guantanamo wholesale, is kind of surprising. It's like, being Polish prisoner survived German consentration camp just to be sent to gulag immediately after.

10-22-2014, 06:44 AM
There is a good interview with Anand Gopal on the Sources and Methods podcast. Well worth listening to for his comments on information gathering.

Alex and Matt are joined by writer, journalist and polymath Anand Gopal for our inaugural episode. He talks about writing books, reporting in Afghanistan, how he stays on top of the news from a variety of countries, why it's so important to learn languages and many other things.

Sources and Methods #1: Anand Gopal (http://www.sourcesandmethods.com/podcast/2014/8/10/anand-gopal)

10-22-2014, 09:38 AM
SWJ Blog put up a NYT review by Rory Stewart (British MP) last week:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/06/afghanistan-shocking-indictment/?insrc=toc

I read it yesterday, the book is a scathing critique of what happened in Afghanistan.

07-24-2015, 12:23 PM
A NY Review of Books piece by Rory Stewart of a 2014 book on Afghanistan, which he uses to ask hard questions about other places:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/06/afghanistan-shocking-indictment/

On the book:
But Anand Gopal’s No Good Men Among the Living shows that everything has not been said. His new and shocking indictment demonstrates that the failures of the intervention were worse than even the most cynical believed.

On Afghans Rory is critical of the author:
Gopal’s astonishing stories are not, however, a complete portrait of Afghanistan. He is so immersed in the mayhem and abuse that he seems genuinely to believe—as the title of the book suggests—that in Afghanistan there are “no good men among the living.” The more difficult truth is that it is hard to describe living among Afghans without falling back on words like dignity, honor, courage, strength, and generosity. Many of the Afghans I have worked with epitomize these virtues so clearly, and even quixotically, that they can seem almost a rebuke to our age.

On state building:
..Gopal shows us clearly how easy all this is to say, and almost impossible to do.

Building a state or tackling an insurgency therefore requires deep knowledge of the history and character of an individual country. And such activity demands that Western governments acknowledge how little they know and can do in most of these places and cultures. But the startling differences within the countries in which we intervene are only exceeded by the startling uniformity, overconfidence, and rigidity of the Western response.

Link to Amazon, with eight reviews plus and 80% excellent:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805091793?ie=UTF8&tag=thneyoreofbo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0805091793

07-24-2015, 01:13 PM
I was so taken with the review I missed this previous thread from late 2014, with 900 views and a couple of posts. Now the threads have been merged.