Told through the lives of three Afghans, the stunning tale of how the United States had triumph in sight in Afghanistan—and then brought the Taliban back from the dead
In a breathtaking chronicle, acclaimed journalist Anand Gopal traces in vivid detail the lives of three Afghans caught in America's war on terror. He follows a Taliban commander, who rises from scrawny teenager to leading insurgent; a US-backed warlord, who uses the American military to gain personal wealth and power; and a village housewife trapped between the two sides, who discovers the devastating cost of neutrality.
Through their dramatic stories, Gopal shows that the Afghan war, so often regarded as a hopeless quagmire, could in fact have gone very differently. Top Taliban leaders actually tried to surrender within months of the US invasion, renouncing all political activity and submitting to the new government. Effectively, the Taliban ceased to exist—yet the Americans were unwilling to accept such a turnaround. Instead, driven by false intelligence from their allies and an unyielding mandate to fight terrorism, American forces continued to press the conflict, resurrecting the insurgency that persists to this day.
With its intimate accounts of life in war-torn Afghanistan, Gopal's thoroughly original reporting lays bare the workings of America's longest war and the truth behind its prolonged agony. A heartbreaking story of mistakes and misdeeds, No Good Men Among the Living challenges our usual perceptions of the Afghan conflict, its victims, and its supposed winners.
A haunting ethnography of Afghanistan after the American invasion, journalist Gopal's nonfiction debut tells the stories of three individuals to create a picture of the situation in Afghanistan. Gopal spent hundreds of hours interviewing a Taliban commander, a member of the U.S.-backed Afghan government, and a village housewife. He presents a stirring critique of American forces who commanded overwhelming firepower, but lacked the situational knowledge to achieve their objectives. Men with the ear of American commanders often took advantage of their credulity to destroy their enemies, making little effort to determine their affiliations. Gopal writes of one hapless bus driver, who spent nearly five years in Guantanamo and was prohibited from presenting evidence that he was not a member of the Taliban, because there was "no accusation against " that suggested this affiliation. Heela, the housewife, has the most remarkable story of the three: in closing pages of the book she becomes a senator, unaware until winning that she was even in the running. Gopal reveals the fragility of the tenuous connection between intention and destiny in a war-torn land.