Hopeless But Optimistic: Journeying Through America's Endless War In Afghanistan

Hardcover | August 8, 2016

byDouglas A. Wissing

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Award-winning journalist Douglas A. Wissing's poignant and eye-opening journey across insurgency-wracked Afghanistan casts an unyielding spotlight on greed, dysfunction, and predictable disaster while celebrating the everyday courage and wisdom of frontline soldiers, idealistic humanitarians, and resilient Afghans. As Wissing hauls a hundred pounds of body armor and pack across the Afghan warzone in search of the ground truth, US officials frantically spin a spurious victory narrative, American soldiers try to keep their body parts together, and Afghans try to stay positive and strain to figure out their next move after the US eventually leaves. As one technocrat confided to Wissing, "I am hopeless-but optimistic."

Wissing is everywhere in Afghanistan, sharing an impressionistic view from little white taxis coursing across one of the world's most mine-ridden places; a perilous view from outside the great walls surrounding America's largest base, sequestered Bagram Air Field; and compelling inside views from within embattled frontline combat outposts, lumbering armored gun trucks and flitting helicopters, brain trauma clinics, and Kabul's Oz-like American embassy. It's Afghan life on the streets; the culture and institutions that anneal them; the poetry that enriches them. It includes the perspectives of cynical military lifers and frightened short-timers; true believers and amoral grabbers; Americans and Afghans trying to make sense of two countries surreally contorted by war-birthed extractive commerce.

Along with a deep inquiry into the 21st-century American way of war and an unforgettable glimpse of the enduring culture and legacy of Afghanistan, Hopeless but Optimistic includes the real stuff of life: the austere grandeur of Afghanistan and its remarkable people; warzone dining, defecation, and sex; as well as the remarkable shopping opportunities for men whose job is to kill.

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From the Publisher

Award-winning journalist Douglas A. Wissing's poignant and eye-opening journey across insurgency-wracked Afghanistan casts an unyielding spotlight on greed, dysfunction, and predictable disaster while celebrating the everyday courage and wisdom of frontline soldiers, idealistic humanitarians, and resilient Afghans. As Wissing hauls a h...

Douglas A. Wissing is an award-winning journalist and author of eight books, including Funding the Enemy: How US Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban and Pioneer in Tibet: The Life and Perils of Dr. Albert Shelton. He has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, Fox.com, Salon.com, and Time.com, among othe...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:August 8, 2016Publisher:Indiana University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0253022851

ISBN - 13:9780253022851

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Prologue
1. Landing
2. Problems
3. In/Out
4. Reify
5. Shoulders
6. Salerno
7. Retrograde
8. Better
9. Boom
10. WHAM
11. Luck
12. Shitholes
13. Road
14. Friends
15. Kandahar
16. Leatherneck
17. Sex
18. Drugs
19. Brains
20. Birds
21. Geronimo
22. Dream
23. Ship
24. Slaughter
25. System
26. Believers
27. Rumi
28. Enduring
29. Beauty
30. Sustaining
31. Challenges
32. Women
33. Dutch
34. Intermediates
35. Embassy
36. Loss
37. Optimism
Epilogue
Index

Editorial Reviews

"When historians of the future try to explain how the United States could have accomplished so little in Afghanistan despite spending so much blood and treasure, this trenchant and honest book will be a crucial source. An important read for anyone who cares about American foreign policy in the 21st century." -Alex Berenson, author of The Wolves (A John Wells Novel)