The Good War book


The Good War

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


James Meek, London Review of Books

An excellent account. The outline of Fairweather’s story is sadly familiar, but he writes with exceptional lucidity and punch… No British officer should be allowed to board a plane for our next war until he has read Fairweather’s account of how we messed up the last one.

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Thanks to reporters such as Jack Fairweather, we now know that this Afghan war has been—and still is—anything but good… [The Good War] combines first-hand war reporting with shrewd analysis of the western conduct of the war.

Financial Times

Jack Fairweather’s sweeping account, The Good War, is one of the first to look at the war as a whole…His richly narrated history roams from the corridors of the White House to the poppy palaces of the country’s opium warlords and the patrol bases of Sangin and Kandahar… As the West looks at the chaos of Iraq and Syria and once more considers how to intervene, the sobering warnings of this riveting book are more relevant than ever.

Daily Telegraph

This smart, well-researched and well-written analysis explains how ‘the world's most powerful leaders plotted to build a new kind of nation in Afghanistan that was pure fantasy.

J. Ford Huffman, Military Times

A fresh and needed analysis of the political miscalculations and lack of strategic vision in Washington, D.C., and other Western capitals regarding their grand experiment in Afghanistan. Fairweather synthesizes earlier writing with his original investigative work and private interviews to offer a unique and important chronicle of America's longest war in its history. An excellent chronicle of the most significant challenges and… a valuable reflection on the most important lessons learned.

Foreign Policy

[A] gripping and detailed narrative… Fairweather breaks new ground with a number of assertions that challenge conventional wisdom.

Publishers Weekly

Recommended for all Americans who want to understand more than a dozen years of an American war in Afghanistan… Fairweather offers a knowledgeable argument for a more careful and thoughtful response to a complex and dangerous world in which terrorists threaten the stability of many weak societies.

Library Journal

A thorough, elegant reassessment of America's 'irresistible illusion.'

Kirkus Reviews

A War of Choice

Fairweather does not disappoint; from the start this book grips with its successful blend of reportage and interviews. Fairweather interviewed over three hundred key players, giving him a panoramic understanding across the spectrum of the conflict, ranging from the political machinations of Whitehall to the gritty reality of life on the street outside the Jamiat. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wears a TELIC medal - things may make a lot more sense on reading it. As we start to approach transition in Afghanistan, hopefully those involved in the planning may take a little time out to read it and avoid some of the pitfalls of recent history.

ARRSE (otherwise known as the The ARmy Rumour SErvice)

The calamitous decision-making process that sent Britain into the “perfect storm” of fighting two wars on two fronts is brilliantly catalogued in Jack Fairweather's excellent book A War of Choice. Through more than 300 interviews, Fairweather, a former Daily Telegraph correspondent in Iraq, expertly dissects the lies, spin and appalling decision-making which led to the biggest British foreign policy disaster since the Suez Crisis.

Sean Rayment, The Daily Telegraph

Jack Fairweather, the accomplished correspondent of the Daily Telegraph for much of the Iraq venture, gives a brilliant summary of the British entanglement for the fourth time in that country in A War of Choice. It is very much an account of the story so far — and this conflict is by no means over, according to latest reports — and by far the best of its kind yet.

Robert Fox, Evening Standard

An outstanding work of contemporary history that reveals for the first time the full drama and folly of Britain's adventure in Iraq. Jack Fairweather does a service to history by telling us what really went on in Iraq.

Patrick Bishop

A compelling history of the seamy realities of war in  both Iraq and Afghanistan, it combines the vividness of front-line reporting with detached and incisive analysis. A War of Choice is a definitive account of this era, setting out the case against Tony Blair’s shifty manipulations in Iraq more forcefully than any number of official enquiries will do.

Alistair Horne

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

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

Britain's campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have spawned a new generation of war correspondents as brave and fluent as any that went before, many of whom go on to write books. Jack Fairweather, who reported from Baghdad for The Daily Telegraph, has compiled his own account, which is sound, vivid and ... simply describes in cool prose how Britain's share in the western allies' initial 2003 success in deposing Saddam Hussein and occupying Iraq turned into a nightmare struggle against insurgency.

The author has interviewed most of the key players, military and political. He tells a story of repeated poor situation assessments and strategic decisions, interspersed with heavy action. There are many tales of courage, but the overall picture is one of a struggle against odds from which few senior commanders emerged with as much credit as those at the sharp end, though not all were heroes.

Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

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Recent publicity, appearances of the author:

As serialised in:

The Sunday Times

Now extracted in National Post:

National Post

Books of the Year:
Daily Telegraph Evening Standard
The Times


Shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Award
The leading award for non-fiction books on foreign affairs