Hastings (I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story) recounts the events behind and beyond his award-winning 2010 Rolling Stone article "The Runaway General," which led to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal and his replacement with General David Petraeus. Trailing McChrystal and his staff as they travel to Paris, Berlin, and Kabul, Hastings discovers how the nation's foremost "operators"-the special forces and other personnel on "the X...the spot on the satellite map where the action goes down"-regard the war as secondary to their loyalty to each other. Cavalier remarks about key figures and incidents ranging from the infamous cover-up of the cause of Pat Tillman's death to scenes with President Obama reveal the essential divide between military and civilian perspectives. Hastings brilliantly intertwines narratives, whether writing about the halls of Washington, war-torn Baghdad, or rudimentary lessons in counterinsurgency math, a system wherein killing two of ten results not in eight, but twenty insurgents. Hasting's first-class, engrossing reportage reveals unsettling yet human flaws behind one of recent history's most lionized military figures, and a war which purportedly began as a response to terrorism, but whose aims-in the author's estimation-remain ambiguous.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
War correspondent Hastings vividly recounts his explosive 2010 Rolling Stone article that got Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal drummed out of Afghanistan. McChrystal's unchecked remarks caused his firing, but things might have gone down differently if the general had taken a lesson from Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. It happened in the spring of 2010 during a European trip the general made to bolster sagging support for the war. Hastings was invited along. The premise of the movie--a promising band experiences their downfall after the Rolling Stone reporter they accept into their circle writes an unflattering (though accurate) story about them--perfectly mirrors the situation in which McChrystal and his entourage would become embroiled. Like Almost Famous, Hastings' astute war memoir is pitch-perfect in demonstrating the challenges that all diligent journalists face. If someone isn't actively working hard to shut you down, they're busy trying to co-opt you. In this case, a certified war hero and his hotshot staff were too confident in their ability to woo a puff piece out of a young writer. The author's frank discussion of these subtler forms of coercion, continuously employed to undermine accurate reporting, is undoubtedly courageous. According to Hastings, McChrystal and his highly accomplished cadre of elite military men operated in a bubble so thick, they foolishly believed they could mold not only a magazine profile to their liking, but also an entire country. As the situation in Afghanistan grows increasingly muddy, the author's disciplined adherence to solid journalistic practices and his acute eye for sharp scene setting makes much of the chaos comprehensible. Hastings has definitely taken up the traditional banner of the intrepid war correspondent, but he's simultaneously shot it through with iconoclastic holes; the effect is illuminating on many levels. An exciting and enlightening exposé of the war in Afghanistan, the dangers of concentrated power and the public's need to know.
An impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did.”—The New York Times
“Hastings has written the funniest book I have read on the war and the US presence in Afghanistanand it’s not easy being funny about Afghanistan or the US Army. The last time someone tried it was in the 1980s, when P.J. O’Rourke wrote hilarious pieces—also for Rolling Stone—about the Mujahideen in Peshawar and later the Taliban…. Hastings’s sense of humor is sly, cynical, and disrespectful, but it is honest....Hastings is an American kind of dissident. ”—Ahmed Rashid,The New York Review of Books
“Superb…One of the most eye-opening accounts…from one of the bravest and most intrepid journalists.”—Salon.com
“It demands to be read…this is a book of great consequence, not a pop-culture puff piece, which some of its deriders claim it is. The Operators seems destined to join the pantheon of the best of GWOT literature, not just for its rock-and-roll details, but for its piercing chronicles of a world gone mad.”—The Daily Beast
“Brings a fresh eye and a brutally authentic voice to America's decade-old misadventure in Afghanistan.”—Los Angeles Times
Hastings seems to be just the man to tell us what's really happening in Afghanistan; his Rolling Stone article, "The Runaway General," created a storm that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Here he relies on exclusive reporting in Washington, DC, Europe, the Middle East, and, specifically, Afghanistan to clarify what is really happening in that country. I'm betting that this will generate lots of interest.