“At some point, I realized the horrible truth–the United States and its allies could win every single battle in Afghanistan and blow up every single alleged top militant in Pakistan, but still lose this war.”
Like most of America I adore Tina Fey; but like most of America I skipped her recent film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot because it looked a little campy for my tastes. However, I sought out the memoir, Taliban Shuffle, because it seemed like a chief complaint of the movie was that it wasn’t a good adaption and it was a bit too white washed.
I can see how that could be accurate since Taliban Shuffle is not very funny. Barker wrote her memoir as a coping mechanism following her years as a Chicago Tribune foreign corespondent in the Middle East (and India); she had friends die, friends get kidnapped and she was frequently groped because she was a woman. Barker spent several years overseas where she made friends with several high ranking officials, like former Prime Minsiter Sabit, who helped her get stories but were often corrupt. Barker admits she is an adventure junkie, she opens her memoir on her way to meet warlord Pacha Khan Zadran , and she put her career before her relationships. Her dedication, and the constant drama of the Taliban, meant Kim rarely went home to America and almost all of her vacations were cut short. While her home base was supposed to be in New Dehli, she began to feel more at home in Kabul.
“For most, Afghanistan was Kabul High, a way to get your war on, an adrenaline rush, a résumé line, a money factory. It was a place to escape, to run away from marriages and mistakes, a place to forget your age, your responsibilities, your past, a country in which to reinvent yourself.”
Unfortunately, while the war in Afghanistan was heating up (or at least, beginning to get the United States’ attention) the printed media was dying out. Her newspaper went bankrupt and it caused a lot of financial problems for Kim to finance her network of drivers and translators, she is eventually asked to end her assignment and come home.
There are a lot of terrible situations throughout the book but also some light-hearted ones. Barker clearly formed an attachment to the Middle East and leaving the people she grew to rely on and see as friends did not prove easy for her.