Finalist for the National Book Award


New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice


“Gopal’s book is essential reading for anyone concerned about how America got Afghanistan so wrong. It is a devastating, well-honed prosecution detailing how our government bungled the initial salvo in the so-called war on terror, ignored attempts by top Taliban leaders to surrender, trusted the wrong people and backed a feckless and corrupt Afghan regime…. It is ultimately the most compelling account I’ve read of how Afghans themselves see the war.”

The New York Times Book Review

“A brilliant analysis of our military’s dysfunction and a startlingly clear account of the consequences.”

Mother Jones

“Extraordinary . . . Brilliantly written . . . Gopal’s method of going deep into the lives of several Talibs, warlords, and ordinary Afghans—he includes an exhilarating portrait of one Afghan woman—demonstrates how different the Americans’ ‘mistakes’ feel when the dead, injured, and traumatized people have been amply humanized.”


“The level of craftsmanship in this book is often awe-inspiring. . . . Provides unique insights into America’s intervention in Afghanistan and makes important contributions to our understanding of the conflict there.”

Foreign Policy

“Haunting . . . Presents a stirring critique of American forces who commanded overwhelming firepower, but lacked the situational knowledge to achieve their objectives . . .  Gopal reveals the fragility of the tenuous connection between intention and destiny in a war-torn land.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Astonishing stories. . . Such investigative reporting is very rare in Afghanistan, where foreign journalists have been targets since 2001. Gopal pursued his stories into the most active centers of the insurgency… He won the trust of insurgent leaders. But his real genius lies in binding all these sources together and combining them with thousands of hours of interviews. . . . All this allows him to bring life to figures who have hitherto been caricatures.”

—The New York Review of Books

Recent Articles

Harper's Magazine

Decoding the Syrian Propaganda War

August 10th, 2012

Last month, video emerged from the Syrian town of Tremseh showing scores of blood-sodden bodies of children and adults, some with cracked skulls and slit throats, all of them purported victims of the Syrian army. As the camera panned across the grisly tableau, an anguished commentator read out the names of the dead and cried, “God [...]


Harper's Magazine

Welcome to Free Syria

July 15th, 2012

Meeting the rebel government of an embattled country
Abu Malek was pacing back and forth in the hospital parking lot, muttering to himself and firing off phone calls. “Don’t say ‘How are you’ to me,” he told one caller, “because I am not fine, I am very, very, very, very bad.” The hospital was in the [...]

From The Blog

Excerpts of Interviews with Sirajuddin Haqqani

September 17th, 2011

After the recent Reuters interview with Siraj Haqqani, I shuffled through my archives to see if there is anything new in what he said. Below are a excerpts of a few interviews I did with him in 2010. You’ll see he covers similar ground. The Haqqanis are quite pragmatic and have an established track record [...]


An Appeal for Funding

August 24th, 2011

Kandahar & London
An Appeal for Funding
(This is a joint post by Alex Strick van Linschoten, Felix Kuehn and Anand Gopal)
I wouldn’t normally put something like this up on the blog, but after over a year or so of asking around (without success) we’re trying all options.
For several years now, Felix, Anand and I have been [...]