Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker

genre: non-fiction, memoir

Young, un-married and childless, when Kim Barker hears that the newspaper where she works is looking for a corespondent in South Asia, she jumps at the chance.  This first foray into the turmoil that is Pakistan, Afghanistan and India will change her perspective as well as the course of her life. As she meets with warlords and freedom fighters, Jihadists and terrorists, heads of state and soldiers from the upper echelons of the US Army, Kim has to sort the fact from the fiction and keep her game face on even as the bullets, literally sometimes, ricochet around her. Watching history in the making is not for the faint of heart.

I appreciate this story for what it is - a unique, female perspective on war-zone reporting.   There are some fascinating stories and I really feel like I have a better understanding of this conflict now. A good portion of this book is background information, political context and discussions of the conundrum of this entire area, some of it interested me and sometimes it got a bit dull.  The other portion of this book was primarily her social life and experiences with the people and the culture, both for an article and not.   This was sometimes totally entertaining and really delved into how different people live and make choices in that part of the world.  Other times, it felt like high school. Really.  She sees that comparison herself, calling it Kabul High.   I started having less sympathy for her the more she fed into that "anything goes I'm a foreign reporter" atmosphere, even as she admitted that it was hurting relations between locals and everyone else.   It was hard for me to appreciate how good she was at her job when she's acting like a sorority girl on her off-hours.

Am I glad I read it?  Yes.  Even as it made me feel so uncomfortable about how little I knew of the conflict and so disappointed in how my country and other countries tried to handle the massive problems that faced them, it was an interesting enough read.

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