Killing the Cranes
A Reporter's Journey Through Three Decades of War in AfghanistanBook - 2011/08/03
Chronicles the country's wars that began with the Soviet invasion of 1970, discussing the reasons for the failure of the Western powers to establish a stable governement and the consequences the wars have had for the native population.
Chelsea Green Publishing
Few reporters have covered Afghanistan as intrepidly and humanely as Edward Girardet. Now, in a gripping, personal account, Girardet delivers a story of that nation's resistance fighters, foreign invaders, mercenaries, spies, aid workers, Islamic extremists, and others who have defined Afghanistan's last thirty years of war, chaos, and strife.
As a young foreign correspondent, Girardet arrived in Afghanistan just three months prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979. Over the next decades, he trekked hundreds of miles across rugged mountains and deserts on clandestine journeys following Afghan guerrillas in battle as they smuggled French doctors into the country, and as they combated each other as well as invaders. He witnessed the world's greatest refugee exodus, the bitter Battle for Kabul in the early 1990s, the rise of the Taliban, and, finally, the US-led Western military and recovery effort that began in 2001.
Girardet's encounters with key figures-including Ahmed Shah Massoud, the famed "Lion of Panjshir" assassinated by al Qaeda two days before 9/11, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Islamic extremist massively supported by the Americans during the 1980s only to become one of today's most ruthless anti-Western insurgents, and Osama bin Laden-shed extraordinary light on the personalities who have shaped the nation, and its current challenges, from corruption and narcotics trafficking to selfish regional interests.
Killing the Cranes provides crucial insights into why the West's current involvement has turned into such a disaster, not only rekindling a new insurgency, but squandering billions of dollars on a recovery process that has shown scant success.
Edward Girardet has been a foreign correspondent covering Afghanistan since the late 1970s when the Soviets launched their abortive campaign into the region. He has worked with such news organizations as the Christian Science Monitor and US News and World Report. In this book, he describes his experience of Afghanistan ranging from walking with powerful personalities, such as Osama bin Laden and Amed Shah Massoud, to following Afghan guerillas in the mountains. He also describes how corruption among wealthy Afghan leaders has worsened under Western occupations which have shown little sense of how to empower the people. Written for a general audience, Girardet's journalistic narrative is frank though eloquent. His epilogue synthesizes his experiences and offers considerations for moving forward in the region. A comprehensive index, glossary of terms and names, and a time-line make it useful for historical research. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)