Now a Major Motion Picture titled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton.
From tea with warlords in the countryside to parties with drunken foreign correspondents in the "dry" city of Kabul, journalist Kim Barker captures the humor and heartbreak of life in post-9/11 Afghanistan and Pakistan in this profound and darkly comic memoir. As Barker grows from awkward newbie to seasoned reporter, she offers an insider’s account of the region’s "forgotten war" at a time when all eyes were turned to Iraq. Candid, self-deprecating, and laugh-out-loud funny, Barker shares both her affection for the absurdities of these two hapless countries and her fear for their future stability.
©2011 Kim Barker (P)2011 Random House
“Read this and try not to hurt yourself laughing. Who knew war could be so funny? The Taliban Shuffle isn’t like any other book out there about Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s witty, brilliant, and impossible to put down. Think P. J. O’Rourke meets Paul Theroux. Kim Barker is a gifted storyteller, and her intrepid, sometimes wacky travels through these two strife-torn nations will leave you informed, amused, and—depending on your sense of adventure—wanting to tag along on her next trip.” (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone)
“The Taliban Shuffle is Scoop meets Dispatches, remixed with a 21-century Bollywood soundtrack. Laugh-out-loud funny, it is the true story of what it is like to be a female journalist in one of the world's most exotic war zones, while telling the reader much about what is really going on today in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” (Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden and The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda)
“Yes, there are bombs. And there is carnage. And all sorts of mayhem. But mostly there are people, human beings even, with appetites—for life, for adventure, for riches, for love. Ms. Barker offers this world—the human world caught in the crosshairs of history—with a vitality rarely seen in accounts of the war. A compelling read that offers readers a glimpse of the goings-on behind the byline.” (J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals)
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"Warring Your Way to Peace Does Not Work"
War is not the answer was the overwhelming message I took from "The Taliban Shuffle". Through her personal experiences as a correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kim Barker gives a vivid account of the real situation there.
In one Afghan village Barker visited, the US army was about to withdraw, having trained the local people. There were two broken Humvies, with no equipment or knowledge to repair them. There was not even a pen. This is just one of the many stories which illustrates the shambles the coalition will leave behind when they withdraw.
Listening, I could taste the dust my mouth, feel my backside being pinched and be horrified by the senseless violence taking place.
Through all of this, Barker managed to make me laugh. But then, tragedy and comedy can be very closely associated.
"Such an interesting story!"
This is a great combo of education and entertainment. I really enjoyed this book. Was funny listening to Kristen potter whose voice I associate with station 11 tell the story.
"Better than the movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot"
As much as I enjoy Tina Fey, the movie "based on" The Taliban Shuffle is an entirely different story than Kim Barker's fascinating and detailed true story of being a reporter in Afghanistan for several years. There is neither the Margot Robbie character nor Billy Bob Thornton's General. Even the title makes no sense. (I had to explain the military phonetic alphabet to my adult sister.) I urge you to read / listen to The Taliban Shuffle instead. Imagine Barker's (not Baker's) life in a war zone. Well, don't imagine it, listen to or read her stories. The audio version was well done in all respects. We listened to this book during a long drive and then plugged into our RV speakers to finish the final two hours. I enjoyed them both...but they are not the same story.
I enjoyed every minute of this audio book. It gives a feeling that you're getting the 'real' story about the wars and lives in Afghanistan. Yes, there is humor. But Kim certainly is not diminishing the seriousness of the issue in any way. I would say the humor of some of the situations reflects the reality of life which is too often focused on the fighting and not nearly enough on how we (U.S.) are affecting life where our military goes.
Thanks Kim. Great work.
"Struggled to finish"
I'm not a fan of memiors especially when written by a reporter. They are necessarily great story tellers. I finished it because it was a book club pick.
I bought this book hoping to learn more about Afghanistan and the war. There was a little of that, but also more than I cared about the author's boyfriend problems. Gave up without finishing.
Pros: Very unique and unexpected viewpoint of Afghanistan and Pakistan; I knew nothing previously but what is shown in the news and didn't expect either country to be even moderately safe and friendly to foreign journalists, who evidently lived like college students with private drivers. My favorite details were those of day to day life - what clothes she wore (and her impressive lack of fashion sense), when did she have to cover her head vs. stay uncovered, how much booze they drank, the apparent fishbowl of dating in a war zone, etc.
Cons: As I like the lifestyle details, the parts detailing actual war-related people and events were pretty dry. I spaced out a lot during those parts, and I wasn't very good at remembering the unfamiliar names of important players, so it was a hard to keep track of who was who and in what country.
This felt less about partying and more about how to potentially mend foreign policy. I enjoyed listening to this remarkable story.
"Much better than the movie."
Great story. It's amazing to hear just how difficult it was there and how out of touch US politicians are with the region.
"One blunder after another or self-deprecation?"
I enjoyed listening to "The Taliban Shuffle."
For one, Barker helped me categorize in my mind the disparate and legion socio-political-religious-cultural-ethnic-regional groups and their leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan (plus Middle Eastern nations too).
Barker seems to make one imprudent decision after another, but I think she has a self-deprecating sense of humor and writing style. For instance, she repeatedly notes that, as a foreign correspondent for the "Chicago Tribune," she submits her articles with a prayer only to later find out [that some of] her work never appeared in the newspaper or its website.
She mentions her successes far less often, but she must have been effective, otherwise the financially struggling newspaper would not have kept her stationed overseas for as long as it did.
I was surprised by how deeply she became enchanted with Kabul, Afghanistan. I can't say my reaction would be the same, but Barber evidently has many surprising attributes, which she showcases in "The Taliban Shuffle."
PS: I haven't seen "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," the movie version of the book with Tina Fey, but I'm curious how entertaining the movie is compared to the book.
Fascinating book and a great insight into the endless troubles.
Struggled at first to get used to the narrator, however, she grew on more and did a fantastic job.
"Written by a self-important high schooler"
I turned it off in the second chapter. The author writes like a teenager who spent a decade in Kabul doing nothing but moaning and thinking they are great. The self-important, over-descriptive BS was too much for me. Don't waste your money.
"I liked it"
there were a lot of descriptions I recognised a lot of characters I recognised bought it all back
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