Swimming with Warlords: A Dozen-Year Journey Across the Afghan War

Overview

In this electrifying first-person account, journalist and author Kevin Sites goes deep into the geopolitical morass of Afghanistan to emerge with critical insights into both a people and a war that few truly comprehend.

As a journalist for NBC News, Kevin Sites made his first trip to Afghanistan in October 2001, crossing the Amu Darya River at night, traveling with Northern Alliance fighters as they toppled the Taliban regime with the help of American forces. In that first ...

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Swimming with Warlords: A Dozen-Year Journey Across the Afghan War

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Overview

In this electrifying first-person account, journalist and author Kevin Sites goes deep into the geopolitical morass of Afghanistan to emerge with critical insights into both a people and a war that few truly comprehend.

As a journalist for NBC News, Kevin Sites made his first trip to Afghanistan in October 2001, crossing the Amu Darya River at night, traveling with Northern Alliance fighters as they toppled the Taliban regime with the help of American forces. In that first hundred days, he lost seven colleagues and nearly his own life. Since then, Sites has returned five more times. On his last trip in summer 2013, on the eve of America's planned withdrawal, he retraced the steps of his first original odyssey to examine what, if anything, has changed.

Using his trademark immersive style, Sites uncovered surprising stories with unexpected truths. He swam in the Kunduz River with an infamous warlord named Nabi Gechi, who demonstrated his fearsome killing skills as well as a genius for peaceful invention. Sites talked with ex-Taliban fighters, politicians, female cops, farmers, drug addicts, and diplomats, and patrolled with American and Afghan soldiers. In Swimming with Warlords he helps us understand this country of primitive beauty, dark mysteries, and savage violence, as well as the conflict that has cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives—and what we might expect tomorrow and in the years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Hampton Sides
“Kevin Sites is one of our national treasures...a fearless correspondent who has devoted himself to documenting not just the facts of war, but also its deepest emotional textures.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-27
A prominent journalist embedded with the U.S. troops chasing the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001 returns to observe the new facts on the ground. Returning to Afghanistan in the summer of 2013 for a fact-finding mission, former NBC News correspondent and current roving reporter and author Sites (The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You About What They've Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War, 2013, etc.) offers not only a thorough roundup of the military state of affairs, but also a good sense of how the Afghanis are coping and looking ahead. The author moves geographically through the country, having entered from Tajikistan on the northern border, as he did crossing the Amu Darya River in 2001, to Kabul; then to Jalalabad and Tora Bora; and finally to Wardak and Logar provinces and the perilous combat outposts. As American troops continue to withdraw from the country, training the Afghan National Police to take over, with more or less success, Sites gauges how the police feel about assuming control. The central government of Hamid Karzai has proven ineffective, and the warlords seem to be arming to address the renewed Taliban threat. Sites worries that without a national identity, they will have a hard time beating the Taliban, especially minus the services of the legendary Northern Alliance strongman Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated in 2001. Destroyed and abandoned military hardware litters the landscape, while the memory of lost journalist comrades like Johanne Sutton is gripping and poignant. During his journey, Sites interviewed military commanders, such as Northern warlord Nabi Gechi, as well as international aid workers and former Taliban warriors, and he visited the Kabul zoo, a heroin den under the Pul-e-Sokhta Bridge, and residential centers for addicted women and children. A somewhat nostalgic, still hopeful look at the residue of American intervention in Afghanistan, from a journalist who knows the terrain.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062339416
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/14/2014
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 522,947
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Sites has spent more than a decade covering wars and conflicts for ABC, NBC, CNN, Yahoo! News, and Vice magazine. He is the author of In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars and The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You About What They've Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War. He is also an associate professor of journalism at the University of Hong Kong.

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