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In its earliest days, the American-led war in Afghanistan appeared to be a triumph — a "good war" in comparison to the debacle in Iraq. It has since turned into one of the longest and most costly wars in U.S. history. The story of how this good war went so bad may well turn out to be a defining tragedy of the 21st century — yet as acclaimed war correspondent Jack Fairweather explains, it should also give us reason to hope.

In The Good War, Fairweather provides the first full narrative history of the war in Afghanistan, from the 2001 invasion to the 2014 withdrawal. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and months of reporting in Afghanistan, Fairweather traces the course of the conflict from its inception after 9/11 to the drawdown in 2014. In the process, he explores the righteous intentions and astounding hubris that caused the American strategy in Afghanistan to flounder, refuting the long-held notion that the war could have been won more troop and cash. Fairweather argues that only by accepting the limitations in Afghanistan — from the presence of the Taliban to the ubiquity of the opium trade to the country's unsuitability for rapid Western-style development — can America help to restore peace in this shattered land.

A timely lesson in the perils of nation-building and a sobering reminder of the limits of American power, The Good War leads readers from the White House situation room to American military outposts, from warlords' palaces to insurgents' dens, to explain how the U.S. and its allies might have salvaged the Afghan campaign — and how we must rethink other "good" wars in the future.

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It has been America's longest war, yet there is no real history of the conflict in Afghanistan. Now this war has finally found its chronicler. Jack Fairweather has reported deeply from the White House Situation Room to the deserts of Kandahar to tell a riveting story with an outsized cast of characters. It's a sweeping work of history written with great verve.

Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

At last, an intrepid war reporter has woven together his insights from the battlefield, the unadorned views of grunts, and the political calculations of Washington to reveal the entire history of the war in Afghanistan. The result is a superb history, compassionate, comprehensive, and eminently readable. Like the best accounts of war, it shows how our aims going into a conflict are all too swiftly undercut by reality on the ground. Bravo Zulu!

Bing West, author of The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq and One Million Steps: a Marine Platoon at War

The Good War is a tour de force — a riveting, clear-eyed account of the troubled US-led war in Afghanistan. Jack Fairweather has shown himself to be a narrative historian of the first order. For anyone seeking an honest appraisal of what went wrong and why, this book is a must-read.

Jon Lee Anderson, author of The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan

A remarkable account of the longest shooting war in American history. The Good War is the kind of book one would not ordinarily expect to see for decades, encyclopedic in sweep and yet rich with colorful detail. Jack Fairweather writes with respect but often damning insight. He seems to have digested everything written about the war, and to have talked with every player, open and clandestine. This timely, absorbing narrative captures the essence of an infuriating place, illustrating once again a seemingly unlearnable lesson: There are strict limits to what can be accomplished by force.

Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

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A War of Choice

As serialised in: The Sunday Times
Books of the Year: Daily Telegraph
Evening Standard
The Times

Tony Blair said that history would judge his decision to invade Iraq. Former Baghdad bureau chief for The Daily Telegraph, Jack Fairweather gives a comprehensive account of this extraordinary, controversial period in British foreign policy in his new non fiction book, A War of Choice. A blend of on-the-ground reporting and extensive research—including more than 400 interviews-- Fairweather takes readers from besieged British outposts and insurgent hideouts in southern Iraq, to the intense debates inside 10 Downing Street and the White House. This is the first full analysis of the cost of Blair's decision to take the country to war. Leaving Iraq proved far harder than invading. When the military sought a quick exit in order to send troops to southern Afghanistan they found themselves in a war on two fronts, in a desperate battle for survival.

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Brilliant... by far the best of its kind

Robert Fox, the Evening Standard

A War of Choice, a roller-coaster narrative of heroism, mismanagement and disaster, is as gripping as any novel.  I only hope that lessons will be learned from it.

Robert Irwin

We have needed to have a detailed and dispassionate book on Britain’s bitterly controversial war in Iraq.  At last we have it with this sweeping, powerful account.

Anthony Seldon

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An award-winning war reporter, Fairweather travelled with the British troops from Kuwait into Southern Iraq, and spent the next six years in the Middle East, including Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Jordan. Most recently, he covered the war in Afghanistan for the Washington Post.

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