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Killing the Cranes: A Reporter's Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistanby Edward Girardet
Synopses & Reviews
Finalist: 2012 Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in JournalismFew reporters have covered Afghanistan as intrepidly and humanely as Edward Girardet. Now, in a gripping, personal account, Girardet delivers a story of that nation's resistance fighters, foreign invaders, mercenaries, spies, aid workers, Islamic extremists, and others who have defined Afghanistan's last thirty years of war, chaos, and strife.As a young foreign correspondent, Girardet arrived in Afghanistan just three months prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979. Over the next decades, he trekked hundreds of miles across rugged mountains and deserts on clandestine journeys following Afghan guerrillas in battle as they smuggled French doctors into the country, and as they combated each other as well as invaders. He witnessed the world's greatest refugee exodus, the bitter Battle for Kabul in the early 1990s, the rise of the Taliban, and, finally, the US-led Western military and recovery effort that began in 2001.Girardet's encounters with key figures - including Ahmed Shah Massoud, the famed "Lion of Panjshir" assassinated by al Qaeda two days before 9/11, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Islamic extremist massively supported by the Americans during the 1980s only to become one of today's most ruthless anti-Western insurgents, and Osama bin Laden - shed extraordinary light on the personalities who have shaped the nation, and its current challenges, from corruption and narcotics trafficking to selfish regional interests.Killing the Cranes provides crucial insights into why the West's current involvement has turned into such a disaster, not only rekindling a new insurgency, but squandering billions of dollars on a recovery process that has shown scant success.
"European-based journalist Girardet (Afghanistan: The Soviet War) shares his personal story of the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and offers disturbing parallels to America's involvement. His first trip as a journalist was just months before the Soviet invasion, and he was smitten with the beauty of the countryside with its 'sprawling sea of twenty-thousand-foot-high snowcapped peaks.' He returned often over the following decade, accompanying the mujahideen on missions and documenting the plight of the people. His exploits included a tense confrontation with Osama bin Laden, and he eventually landed on a 'hit list... vilified as Ã¢Â€Â˜the enemy of Islam.'Â ' He returned when America invaded, and concludes that 'all I see is a replay of history.' His comparisons of the invasions expose a superpower hubris where 'first the Soviets, and now the West attempted to impose a political and cultural future... that was not consistent with traditional Afghan culture and beliefs.' Girardet admits to having 'romanticized Afghanistan because of its harsh beauty and poetic embrace,' but still offers a sobering assessment. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
Edward Girardet has been a foreign correspondent covering Afghanistan since the late 1970s when the Soviets launched their abortive campaign into the region. He has worked with such news organizations as the Christian Science Monitor and US News and World Report. In this book, he describes his experience of Afghanistan ranging from walking with powerful personalities, such as Osama bin Laden and Amed Shah Massoud, to following Afghan guerillas in the mountains. He also describes how corruption among wealthy Afghan leaders has worsened under Western occupations which have shown little sense of how to empower the people. Written for a general audience, Girardet's journalistic narrative is frank though eloquent. His epilogue synthesizes his experiences and offers considerations for moving forward in the region. A comprehensive index, glossary of terms and names, and a time-line make it useful for historical research. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
For all too many Americans, knowledge of Afghanistan's history begins only with the events of 9/11 and the subsequent US-led invasion. Yet this ancient and troubled country has endured decades of occupation and strife, as well as centuries of interest by outside nations. At the crossroads of trade between East and West, North and South, Afghanistan holds the key to peace and security in the region, and its control is hotly contested by warring factions, each eager to dominate the discussion.Leading international journalist Edward Girardet has been a witness to more than three decades of upheaval in Afghanistan. In Killing the Cranes, he recollects the events he has seen unfold in Afghanistan-beginning with the Red Army occupation in 1979, the collapse of the communist regime, the bitter Battle for Kabul in the mid-1990s, the Taliban takeover, and the post-9/11 US invasion.With tremendous insight and courage, he examines not only the leaders and their visions, the resulting internal struggles for power and the deep divisions within the population, but also the invaders and their tactics, and the attending destruction and death visited on the Afghan people.By relating his insights, Girardet hopes to bring those who face the conundrum that is Afghanistan to the final understanding why any attempt by the US (or any outside nation) to govern there is ultimately doomed to fail.
About the Author
Edward Girardet is a journalist, writer, and producer who has reported widely from humanitarian and war zones in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. As a foreign correspondent for the US News and World Report based in Paris, he first began covering Afghanistan several months prior to the Soviet Invasion in 1979. Since then he has traveled throughout much of the country, often by foot. Girardet has written and edited several books, including Afghanistan: The Soviet War. He has produced numerous television current affairs segments and documentaries on subjects ranging from the war in Angola to lost tribes in Western New Guinea and conservation in Africa for major North American and European broadcast networks, such as the BBC and PBS's MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Girardet is currently editor of Crosslines Global Report and president of the International Centre for Humanitarian Reporting, a Geneva-based media foundation. He lives in Paris, France.
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