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The Forever Warby Dexter Filkins
Synopses & Reviews
From the front lines of the battle against Islamic fundamentalism, a searing, unforgettable book that captures, in stunning vignettes, snapshots, and episodes, the human essence of the greatest conflict of our time.
New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins's work in Iraq was hailed by David Halberstam as "reporting of the highest quality imaginable." Now, through Filkins's eyes, we witness the chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, led to the attacks of 9/11, and culminated in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Filkins's "camera" moves across a vast and various landscape of amazing characters and astonishing scenes: deserts, mountains, and streets of carnage; a public amputation performed by Taliban; the days and nights of 9/11 rescue workers. He takes us inside the homes of suicide bombers and into street-to-street combat alongside a battalion of U.S. Marines in Falluja. We meet Iraqi insurgents; an American captain who loses a quarter of his men in eight days; Ahmed Chalabi, who tricked America into war; and Ahmed Shah Masoud, the anti-Taliban rebel killed by Al Qaeda.
Like no other book, The Forever War allows us a visceral understanding of the war on terror and of the experiences of the people involved, combatants and victims alike. It is a stunning debut: a brilliant, fearless book about one war and, ultimately, about all war.
"Filkins, a New York Times prize — winning reporter, is widely regarded as among the finest war correspondents of this generation. His richly textured book is based on his work in Afghanistan and Iraq since 1998. It begins with a Taliban-staged execution in Kabul. It ends with Filkins musing on the names in a WWI British cemetery in Baghdad. In between, the work is a vivid kaleidoscope of vig-nettes. Individually, the strength of each story is its immediacy; together they portray a theater of the absurd, in which Filkins, an extraordinarily brave man, moves as both participant and observer. Filkins does not editorialize — a welcome change from the punditry that shapes most writing from these war zones. This book also differs essentially from traditional war correspondence because of its universal empathy, feelings enhanced by Filkins's spare prose. Saudi women in Kabul airport, clad in burqas and stylish shoes, bemoan their husbands' devotion to jihad. An Iraqi casually says to his friend, 'Let's go kill some Americans.' A marine is shot dead escorting Filkins on a photo opportunity. Iraqi soldiers are disconcerted when he appears in running shorts ('They looked at [my legs] in horror, as if I were naked'). Carl von Clausewitz said 'war is a chameleon.' In vividly illustrating the varied ways people in Afghanistan and iraq have been affected by ongoing war, Filkins demonstrates that truth in prose. 5 photos. (Sept. 17)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Stunning...it is not facetious to speak of work like that of Dexter Filkins as defining the 'culture' of a war...This unforgettable narrative [represents]...a haunting spiritual witness that will make this volume a part of this awful war's history." Robert Stone, The New York Times Book Review
"Dexter Filkins's The Forever War, brutally intimate, compassionate, often poetic accounts of the battle against Islamic fundamentalism, is destined to become a classic." Vanity Fair
"Dexter Filkins has seen the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan; he has stood in the ruins of the World Trade Center; he has been in the heat of battle in Iraq; indeed, no one else has been closer to the action than this courageous and thoughtful observer. This is a sensational book in the best sense." Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
"The Forever War is already a classic — it has the timeless feel of all great war literature. A lot has been written about Iraq and Afghanistan, but no one has seen as much, survived as much, and registered the horror with such sad eloquence as Dexter Filkins. His combination of courage and sensitivity is so rare that books like his come along only once every major war. This one is ours." George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
"[A] litany of war's savage absurdity...Filkins writes with candor and clarity....Sharing his deeply humbling, transforming journey, the author tempers numbing details of slaughter and carnage with affecting human stories." Kirkus Reviews
"Filkins...marshals his broad experience to present a wide-ranging view of this struggle, told through a series of intense, vivid, and startling vignettes....A portrait of the difficulty, complexity, and savagery of a conflict that will be with us for some time." Booklist
"[An] extraordinary work of exorcism... like a pointillist Seurat, a neo-Impressionist juxtaposition of spots of pure color with black holes and open wounds." John Leonard, Harper's
"The work Filkins accomplishes in The Forever War is one of the most effective antitoxins that the writing profession has produced to counter the administration's fascinating contemporary public relations tactic." New York Times
"Much has been written about these wars....Probably less has been written from the ground up to the broken rooftops where so much of the fighting has been waged. And rarely has it been conveyed with the detail and tenacity of The Forever War." Minneapolis Star Tribune
From the front lines of the battle against Islamic fundamentalism, a searing, unforgettable book that captures the human essence of the greatest conflict of our time.
Through the eyes of Dexter Filkins, the prizewinning New York Times correspondent whose work was hailed by David Halberstam as “reporting of the highest quality imaginable,” we witness the remarkable chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Filkinss narrative moves across a vast and various landscape of amazing characters and astonishing scenes: deserts, mountains, and streets of carnage; a public amputation performed by Taliban; children frolicking in minefields; skies streaked white by the contrails of B-52s; a nights sleep in the rubble of Ground Zero.
We embark on a foot patrol through the shadowy streets of Ramadi, venture into a torture chamber run by Saddam Hussein. We go into the homes of suicide bombers and into street-to-street fighting with a battalion of marines. We meet Iraqi insurgents, an American captain who loses a quarter of his men in eight days, and a young soldier from Georgia on a rooftop at midnight reminiscing about his girlfriend back home. A car bomb explodes, bullets fly, and a mother cradles her blinded son.
Like no other book, The Forever War allows us a visceral understanding of todays battlefields and of the experiences of the people on the ground, warriors and innocents alike. It is a brilliant, fearless work, not just about Americas wars after 9/11, but ultimately about the nature of war itself.
About the Author
Dexter Filkins, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, has covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Before that, he worked for the Los Angeles Times, where he was chief of the paper's New Delhi bureau, and for The Miami Herald. He has been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a winner of a George Polk Award and two Overseas Press Club awards. Most recently, he was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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