Sandy Gall is a most experienced and well-respected broadcaster, journalist and author, with a career spaninng over 50 years. He was a reporter for ITN for many years and worked in just about all of the world's trouble spots at the time. He was the first ITN journalist to report on the war in Vietnam when the US marines landed on 8th March 1965. A war he covered many times until the fall of Saigon in 1975, when he was forcibly removed by the communist authorities.
He also -during this period - reported from Cambodia, Afghanistan, China and Africa. He was a reporter on both the 6 Day war in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. He was arrested, along with his colleague Nicholas Moore in Uganda, in 1972, and held in a notorious police detention camp for several days.
Sandy Gall has reported from Afghanistan on many occasions, and has been the maker of several television documentaries on the country and it's people, two of which were nominated for BAFTA awards, (Allah against the Gunships; 1984, and Agony of a Nation; 1986). Together with his wife he set up a charitable organisation 'Sandy Gall's Afghanistan Appeal' which raises money and since 2006 has provided artificial limbs, physiotherapy and medical aid for those Afghanis injured by mines and other weapons during the various wars.
Gall is an acknowledged expert on Afghanistan, and has written several books on the country and it's people. He was amongst the first to accompany Mujhahideen on raids against the Russians during the war then. In fact, he took with him on his first visit to the attack on the fort at Hissarak a cargo of SAM-7 man portable missiles.
I start with those snippets of information just to advise readers that this is a man who has a very good idea of what he is talking about,and is not an armchair general, but has been there and done it!
'War against the Taliban..........' is a most informative and knowledgeable book, the author begins with the Partition of India in 1947 and the creation of the seperate states of Pakistan and Bangladesh and the effect this had on the country of Afganistan, and that effect is still prevalent.
Gall has met and spoken with many of the leaders of both the Taliban, the Afghan government and the military -British, American and other nations involved in the war, and speaks with authority on the actions and politics. He clearly warms to General Richards, describing him as ' a soldier's soldier' and talks with regret about Sir Richard dannart, and his outspoken comments ( which clearly cost him dearly). No lover of politicians, Gall is honest about those he has met and his opinions are both trenchant and accurate.
This is a book that gives a historical as well as a political and diplomatic hsitory of the ongoing conflict. It asks why Britain and America are so gullible about the role of Pakistan in the conflict and the tolerance of that country for the Taliban. He enquires about why the reconstruction - so loudly and famously trumpeted by our politicians - has failed and why cronyism and corruption only help the Taliban grow stronger.
Sandy Gall has worked with and alongside the Taliban, when they were our allies, and his impartiality on Afgansitan and the various conflicts was called into conflict when it was revealed that he had -if not actually worked for- been courted by MI6. This aside, and I feel no animosity to anyone who has been that route, he is certainly a great authority of the country, has a feel for the people, as well as many friends amongst them. He also writes a damn good book.
I have to say that this is not a book for general and casual reading, rather a tome that is a boon to anyone trying to understand the rats nest that is the Afghan war, and as such I would give it four and a half mushroom heads. old_fat_and_hairy
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