Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan

No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan

5.0 1
by Ben Anderson

See All Formats & Editions

The war in Afghanistan is over ten years old. It has cost countless lives and hundreds of billions of pounds. Politicians talk of progress, but the violence is worse than ever.

In this powerful and shocking exposé from the front lines in Helmand province, leading journalist and documentary-maker Ben Anderson (HBO, Panorama, and Dispatches) shows just how bad


The war in Afghanistan is over ten years old. It has cost countless lives and hundreds of billions of pounds. Politicians talk of progress, but the violence is worse than ever.

In this powerful and shocking exposé from the front lines in Helmand province, leading journalist and documentary-maker Ben Anderson (HBO, Panorama, and Dispatches) shows just how bad it has got. Detailing battles that last for days, only to be fought again weeks later, Anderson witnesses IED explosions and sniper fire, amid disturbing incompetence and corruption among the Afghan army and police. Also revealing the daily struggle to win over the long-suffering local population, who often express open support for the Taliban, No Worse Enemy is a heartbreaking insight into the chaos at the heart of the region.

Raising urgent questions about our supposed achievements and the politicians’ desire for a hasty exit, Anderson highlights the vast gulf that exists between what we are told and what is actually happening on the ground. A product of five years’ unrivalled access to UK forces and US Marines, this is the most intimate and horrifying account of the Afghan war ever published.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following five years of an embedded media assignment with the British Army and U.S. Marines, Anderson, a journalist and documentarian (The Battle for Marjah), covers the front lines in Afghanistan. With interviews from military commanders, and Afghan and allied soldiers, he witnesses a surge in arms, men, envoys, and policies upon each return to the battlefield, but nothing seems to halt the rising death toll, terror in the villages, and pushback from a determined enemy. When the vigilant British troops hand the fighting over to the American military units in that region, they have suffered large losses in lives and equipment, leading Anderson to write: “Roger Moore was charming but the fighting was spiraling out of control, and John Wayne, Ted Nugent, and Ice-T had been sent to finish things off.” The Yanks, despite major firepower and more soldiers, do not fare much better, and gone is the talk of liberation, replaced by goals of stifling the Taliban and denying al-Qaeda a haven. Similar to Michael Herr’s high-octane Vietnam War classic, Dispatches, Anderson delivers a gritty, brutal, realistic account of British and American troops on the Afghan frontlines in a bitter counterpoint to all the policy concessions and peace chatter. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“The most intense fighting footage and the best anatomy of a battle I’ve ever seen.”
— Spike Jonze (Academy Award-winning director) on Ben Anderson’s film Taking on the Taliban
Kirkus Reviews
An unusually courageous war correspondent shares his dispatches from the frontlines of Afghanistan. Filmmaker and journalist Anderson spent five years embedded with the British and American forces in Afghanistan, primarily in Helmand, "the country's most violent province." Armed only with a video camera, he accompanied his hosts on hundreds of excursions to forward positions, staying "as little time as possible on the main bases, where not much ever happens." Anderson's thousands of hours of recorded video allow him to clear away the fog of war, recounting precisely what happened in some of the most chaotic and stressful situations humans can experience. With humor, compassion and a fine eye for detail, the author meticulously pieces together each scene with the skill of a good choreographer. While the book is too atmospheric and action-based to have much of a grand political narrative, Anderson's central contention is that our strategy in Afghanistan is confused and ineffectual, and the Taliban is confidently reestablishing its networks of authority throughout the country. The Afghan National Army ("a heavily-armed, badly-dressed version of the Keystone Kops. On drugs"), now taking responsibility for most areas, is poorly trained and motivated and of dubious loyalty. The efforts of Anderson's unit to win hearts and minds were constantly stymied by civilian deaths, communication problems and the great remove from which policymakers view the landscape. An engrossing blow-by-blow account of the nuts and bolts of modern warfare.

Product Details

Oneworld Publications
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Ben Anderson is an acclaimed journalist and Emmy-nominated filmmaker. In a career spanning 14 years, he has filmed and presented over 40 films for the BBC, Channel 4, HBO and the Discovery Channel. He has presented five of his own series for BBC2 and is a regular reporter for Panorama and Dispatches. He was twice a finalist for the RTS young journalist of the year award and his HBO film The Battle for Marjah was nominated for three Emmys. In addition, he has written for GQ, Esquire, The Times of London, and the London Review of Books. When not reporting from the field, he lives in London.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
willyvan More than 1 year ago
Journalist Ben Anderson has been visiting Afghanistan since the summer of 2007. He notes, “on each visit I was told that the Taliban were on their last legs, the Afghans were almost ready to provide security for themselves and the government was almost ready to govern.” But in the real world, “the only thing I ever saw happen was an increase in troop numbers and a corresponding increase in casualties, military and civilian. This, I was told, was further evidence of the Taliban’s desperation and proof that the insurgency was in its last throes.” He notes, “What happened next, after vital resources had been diverted to Iraq, was simply a return to predatory power politics and the rule of the warlords. To a place where the corrupt and vicious thrived and the most able and honest were sidelined. The state of affairs that had allowed the Taliban to sweep to power in the first place. The 2005 elections, which might have led to truly representative government, were a sham, with some observers claiming that fraudulent votes outnumbered the genuine.” Anderson reports, “People approached marines in the bazaar, saying: ‘Please don’t leave us alone with those guys’, referring to the police. The same thing happened in every town I’d seen cleared. The fact that the people being liberated were asking for protection from those we were fighting to introduce ought to have raised obvious questions. But it was too late in the day to admit such a terminal flaw in policy.” Anderson quotes Captain Peterson, the Commanding Officer of Lima Company, who said, “You’re trying to build a country up by destroying it and it seems like a paradox but those are people who have not been to Afghanistan.” Shades of Vietnam – where another US officer famously said, “We had to destroy the village to save it.” Anderson notes, “General McChrystal’s claim that [Operation] Mushtaraq was Afghan-led, a claim repeated by President Obama, a claim widely-spread and never seriously challenged, a claim backed by a massive media campaign, was the biggest fallacy of the entire operation. The Afghans were nowhere near ready to lead any military operation, leave alone one in the Pushtun south. Certainly not one as big as Mushtaraq.” As Anderson points out, “There was such desperation to increase the Afghan National Army’s numbers … that just about anybody could get in, especially as the desertion rate was so high. ... Often, they used the weapons and uniforms they’d been given to attack real security force members of their foreign mentors. This happened more and more, suggesting both the police and the army had been, heavily, albeit easily, infiltrated. But the problem was not properly addressed, because that meant admitting that the absurdly ambitious goal of having a national army able to secure every province of Afghanistan, on its own, by 2014, was a fantasy. But that goal was the exit strategy so publicly, everyone had to say it was plausible.” He concludes, “In huge swathes of the country, the government will not stand for twenty-four hours, much less three years, without foreign support. Every Afghan I have spoken to is convinced there will be another round of civil war as soon as we leave, with no rules of engagement or courageous restraint. They also think that the Taliban may well win. Perhaps the most damning indictment of our intervention is that there are also many Afghans who will think that if there is such a victory, the good guys will have won.”