HISTORY

The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan’s Pech Valley

Random. Mar. 2021. 672p. ISBN 9780812995060. $35. HIST
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The ongoing war in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001, has lasted longer than any other war in U.S. history. Journalist Morgan, who has reported on the U.S. military for the New York Times, Politico, and the Washington Post, has created a superbly researched and smoothly written account of America’s decadelong involvement in the remote Pech valley. Beginning with the arrival of U.S. troops in Kunar Province in 2002, Morgan proceeds to give a year-by-year accounting of what happened on the ground, and what daily life was like for U.S. soldiers, Taliban forces, and Afghan civilians. His stellar reporting explains how numerous rotations of American troops spent time seeking at first to find Osama Bin-Laden, and then, later, trying to establish a base of operations that could be used to improve the area’s infrastructure and stability. Morgan’s narrative, buttressed by countless interviews and over 100 pages of endnotes, describes the endlessly frustrating military experience of an American command, too often unclear as to their mission or their enemy.
VERDICT . Although this is a lengthy book, it reads easily and, within its accessible pages, readers can gain a better understanding of an ongoing, yet often forgotten war. An essential, thoroughly reported work.

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