How we won & lost the war in Afghanistan

How we won & lost the war in Afghanistan

Douglas Grindle
ARRSE Rating
3 Mushroom Heads
'How we won & lost the war in Afghanistan' is a fascinating account of a US AID manager's two years spent in Dand and Maiwand Provinces near Kandahar. Douglas Grindle has plenty of 'previous' - he had spent six years in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war correspondent and two years as a field researcher for the Department of Defense in Afghanistan before undertaking this two year stint with US AID.

The book itself is a superb account of the issues faced by both the local Afghani district councils and those who deployed to try and help them. It pin-points where mistakes were made and why many initiatives were bound to fail from the very start. Many of the lessons it identifies would be as applicable today as they were then, although the target audience would be fairly niche...

...and this is where the book falls down. I believe the book has missed its ideal window: when we had large numbers of people deploying into Helmand, this book would have made great pre-reading. Published now, three years after we pulled out, it tells a wearingly familiar story that most people who deployed can identify with of the bureaucratic and cultural morass that proved insurmountable in many circumstances. I acknowledge that the US still has a huge quantity of people in theatre, but I believe they have a very different role now. I suspect the niche audience accounts for the exorbitant price - £22 on Kindle and £24 in hardback - they simply don't expect to shift many copies.

Amazon product
All in all, this IS a good book, painting a warts-and-all picture of the trials and tribulations of someone who did his best to help the Afghan people for two long years. Its downfall is the price and the tardiness of its publication; for the general population, even those with a professional interest in the subject matter, the cost benefit of buying this book just does not add up.
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Good review and thanks for highlighting the issues with presentation and price. It would appear that the publishers are hoping it goes on a "Must Read" list for organisations involved in this field.