The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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9780307477385: The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan
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Now a Major Motion Picture titled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton.


When Kim Barker first arrived in Kabul as a journalist in 2002, she barely owned a passport, spoke only English and had little idea how to do the “Taliban Shuffle” between Afghanistan and Pakistan. No matter—her stories about Islamic militants and shaky reconstruction were soon overshadowed by the bigger news in Iraq. But as she delved deeper into Pakistan and Afghanistan, her love for the hapless countries grew, along with her fear for their future stability. In this darkly comic and unsparing memoir, Barker uses her wry, incisive voice to expose the absurdities and tragedies of the “forgotten war,” finding humor and humanity amid the rubble and heartbreak.
 

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Kim Barker was The Chicago Tribune's South Asia Bureau Chief from 2004 to 2009, much of which she spent living in and reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Taliban Shuffle comprises her recollections of these years, but make no mistake: this is not your parents' war correspondent's memoir. In fact, to hear this charismatic debut author tell of life in war-torn Kabul during these years, you'd think it was a more-or-less non-stop party. Journalism is famously known as a business for which "if it bleeds, it leads," and with a fresh war raging in Iraq, Barker initially faced long stretches of relative quiet. As a result, an absurd, often promiscuous subculture grew up among her fellow reporters. (Think M*A*S*H with a dash of Catch-22.) Of course, it wasn't all fun, games, and the occasional heavy petting. Barker's reporting eventually brings her into contact with warlords, fundamentalists, and drug kingpins, and she does get blood on her hands (quite literally). As the action heats up and the Taliban begins slowly to regroup, she finds herself reporting on and fending off a host of unsavory types, from anonymous gropers in crowded streets to former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who woos her shamelessly, breaking all manner of internationally recognized rules of professional decorum. After five years of these "Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Barker finally returns to the States with a one-of-a-kind memoir, a true story that's rife with both black humor and brutal honesty about the absurdities of war. --Jason Kirk

About the Author:

Kim Barker was the South Asia bureau chief for The Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009, based in New Delhi and Islamabad. Her book about those years, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a dark comedic take on her time in South Asia, was published by Doubleday. The movie version, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, was released in 2016, starring Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Margot Robbie and Billy Bob Thornton. Barker is now a metro reporter at The New York Times, specializing in investigative reporting and narrative writing. Before joining The Times in mid-2014, Ms. Barker was an investigative reporter at ProPublica.
 

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