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The Long War: The Inside Story of America and Afghanistan Since 9/11

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As troops pull out of Afghanistan at the end of America’s longest war, David Loyn's The Long War uncovers the failures at the start that set the scene for this prolonged conflict. Three American presidents tried to defeat the Taliban – sending 150,000 international troops at the peak and spending a trillion dollars. But early policy mistakes that allowed Osama bin Laden to As troops pull out of Afghanistan at the end of America’s longest war, David Loyn's The Long War uncovers the failures at the start that set the scene for this prolonged conflict. Three American presidents tried to defeat the Taliban – sending 150,000 international troops at the peak and spending a trillion dollars. But early policy mistakes that allowed Osama bin Laden to escape made the task far more difficult. Deceived by easy victories, they backed ruthless corrupt local allies and misspent aid. The story of The Long War is told by the generals who led it through the hardest years of combat as surges of international troops tried to turn the tide. Generals, which include David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, Joe Dunford and John Allen, were tested in battle as never before. With the reputation of a “warrior monk,” McChrystal was considered one of the most gifted military leaders of his generation. He was one of two generals to be fired in this most public of commands. Holding together the coalition of countries who joined America’s fight in Afghanistan was just one part of the multi-dimensional puzzle faced by the generals, as they fought an elusive and determined enemy while responsible for thousands of young American and allied lives. The Long War goes behind the scenes of their command and of the Afghan government. The fourth president to take on the war, Joe Biden, pulled troops out in 2021, twenty years after 9/11, while the conflict still raged, a decision with unforeseeable consequences.


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As troops pull out of Afghanistan at the end of America’s longest war, David Loyn's The Long War uncovers the failures at the start that set the scene for this prolonged conflict. Three American presidents tried to defeat the Taliban – sending 150,000 international troops at the peak and spending a trillion dollars. But early policy mistakes that allowed Osama bin Laden to As troops pull out of Afghanistan at the end of America’s longest war, David Loyn's The Long War uncovers the failures at the start that set the scene for this prolonged conflict. Three American presidents tried to defeat the Taliban – sending 150,000 international troops at the peak and spending a trillion dollars. But early policy mistakes that allowed Osama bin Laden to escape made the task far more difficult. Deceived by easy victories, they backed ruthless corrupt local allies and misspent aid. The story of The Long War is told by the generals who led it through the hardest years of combat as surges of international troops tried to turn the tide. Generals, which include David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, Joe Dunford and John Allen, were tested in battle as never before. With the reputation of a “warrior monk,” McChrystal was considered one of the most gifted military leaders of his generation. He was one of two generals to be fired in this most public of commands. Holding together the coalition of countries who joined America’s fight in Afghanistan was just one part of the multi-dimensional puzzle faced by the generals, as they fought an elusive and determined enemy while responsible for thousands of young American and allied lives. The Long War goes behind the scenes of their command and of the Afghan government. The fourth president to take on the war, Joe Biden, pulled troops out in 2021, twenty years after 9/11, while the conflict still raged, a decision with unforeseeable consequences.

30 review for The Long War: The Inside Story of America and Afghanistan Since 9/11

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    Simply outstanding. Probably the best book on the War in Afghanistan that I've read. Simply outstanding. Probably the best book on the War in Afghanistan that I've read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Suanne

    As someone who traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the mid 1970s, arriving just after Mohammed Zia-Ul-Haq’s military coup in Pakistan and leaving just before the Soviets arrive in Afghanistan, I have followed politics in the region avidly. Loyn, an award-winning foreign correspondent and US Funded Afghan Government Strategic, writes a definitive history of America’s longest war, the war begun after 9/11 and ending when President Biden evacuated the troops. Loyn also served as an advisor for As someone who traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the mid 1970s, arriving just after Mohammed Zia-Ul-Haq’s military coup in Pakistan and leaving just before the Soviets arrive in Afghanistan, I have followed politics in the region avidly. Loyn, an award-winning foreign correspondent and US Funded Afghan Government Strategic, writes a definitive history of America’s longest war, the war begun after 9/11 and ending when President Biden evacuated the troops. Loyn also served as an advisor for Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, giving Loyn a unique perspective. He writes well of what we did right, did wrong, and what could have been improved—America’s resolution not to be a nation-builder and the poor insight US politicians had into the Afghan soul. Loyn divides the book—and the war—into five phases. The first looks at America’s entrance into the war from 9/11/2001. In the second, the Taliban returns after being quiescent since the departure of the Soviets. Phase three looks at the surge of troops and the tribulations of coordinating the involvement of the various NATO countries. The fourth phase looks at NATO withdrawing its troops. And the fifth and final phase looks at the changing roles of the American military and the aftermath of its departure. Inhabitants often pay the price of a country’s war, and this is certainly true in Afghanistan. Civilians took the brunt of the damage and, as the Taliban moves to consolidate its power in the post-withdrawal phase, women continue to lose rights as the country moves toward more extreme beliefs in Islam. This is highly recommended reading for anyone who is interested in military operations and who wants to understand why a quick military involvement turned into America’s twenty-year war.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Great information on the wars in the Middle East following 9/11. Most people are not aware of how complex this war has become.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Madelon

    I can't in all honesty say that I 'enjoyed' reading THE LONG WAR: The Inside Story of America and Afghanistan Since 9/11. It is a book meant to educate not provide escape. The realities of war are bleak, yes, but also seem to lack cohesive policy and execution of mission. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is that it is written by a British journalist. So many of the recent tell-all books written about U.S. politics and policy have been written by those closest to the situations. I can't in all honesty say that I 'enjoyed' reading THE LONG WAR: The Inside Story of America and Afghanistan Since 9/11. It is a book meant to educate not provide escape. The realities of war are bleak, yes, but also seem to lack cohesive policy and execution of mission. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is that it is written by a British journalist. So many of the recent tell-all books written about U.S. politics and policy have been written by those closest to the situations. This is, for all intents and purposes, written by an outsider looking in. It provides a different, and much needed, perspective. As you read this book, the chaos of the August 2021 withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan becomes a foregone conclusion. As I watched the mad dash to leave Kabul on television, I could only associate what I was seeing to the last day in Saigon. From the perspective of history, THE LONG WAR is worth reading. A war that lasted through four presidents and far too many generals, the Afghan war was fought on day one with every new commander, every new deployment of troops. One commander was there for counter terrorism (CT) and the next was there for counterinsurgency (COIN). The flip flop from these two points of view did nothing to bring the conflict to resolution. The connection between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda may have been good for US journalists but did not live up to lived reality on the ground. Historically, the US has backed the wrong side in this century and the last. If you read military history, you will find this book quite good. If you are looking to find dirt on four American administrations, you will be sorely disappointed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leo Vector

    Learnt a lot

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Review of Uncorrected Digital Galley A deep and decisive examination of the decades-long war in Afghanistan through the eyes of an award-winning foreign correspondent. An authority on Afghanistan, the author visited the country annually for nearly three decades and spent a year working as an adviser for Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. Drawing on multiple sources including both first-hand interviews and his own experiences, the author addresses the complex logistics and examines the motivations and Review of Uncorrected Digital Galley A deep and decisive examination of the decades-long war in Afghanistan through the eyes of an award-winning foreign correspondent. An authority on Afghanistan, the author visited the country annually for nearly three decades and spent a year working as an adviser for Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. Drawing on multiple sources including both first-hand interviews and his own experiences, the author addresses the complex logistics and examines the motivations and tactics of both military and government officials. He offers a comparable view of the insurgents as well. Following an extensive introduction, the author divides his detailed study into several sections. Phase One . . . The Die Is Cast, looking at the beginnings of the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan from 2001 through 2006. Phase Two . . . The Taliban Return and the “peace-keeping” devolves into a shooting war between 2006 and 2009. Phase Three . . . The Surge, with a focus on counterinsurgency and the influx of troops, from 2009 through 2011. Phase Four . . . Drawdown, with NATO withdrawing from the country, from 2011 through 2014. Phase Five . . . Endgame? looks at the changing role of the American military and, finally, its departure, from 2015 to 202?. Each section has between two and five chapters; a bibliography and an extensive section of notes are also included as is an index. As with most wars, the country’s people often pay the highest price; in the war in Afghanistan, the civilian cost is steep indeed. Without a doubt, readers will find some portions of this account difficult to read, but this book should be on every must-read list for the invaluable insight it offers into a decades-long conflict steeped in political maneuvering and ethnic misunderstandings. Highly recommended. I received a free copy of this eBook from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley #TheLongWar #NetGalley

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A Comprehensive Look at the Afghanistan War For twenty years the US has suffered through a war in Afghanistan at the cost of trillions of dollars and the lives of more that 3000 young men. The story is told by David Loyn. He was there first as a reporter for the BBC and later as an adviser to the office of the Afghan President. The story moves from the inciting incident of 9/11 through the difficult years when three different presidents were unable to satisfactorily end the conflict. It’s the sto A Comprehensive Look at the Afghanistan War For twenty years the US has suffered through a war in Afghanistan at the cost of trillions of dollars and the lives of more that 3000 young men. The story is told by David Loyn. He was there first as a reporter for the BBC and later as an adviser to the office of the Afghan President. The story moves from the inciting incident of 9/11 through the difficult years when three different presidents were unable to satisfactorily end the conflict. It’s the story of the generals, Petraeus, McChrystal, Dunsfor and Allen, who in spite of their abilities were unable to satisfactorily resolve the conflict. In the aftermath of Biden’s precipitate withdrawal from Afghanistan, this is a book worth reading. It not only cover the battles, but also the policy considerations including those of our allies. Loyn’s analysis is extensive and not limited to one view of the conflict. He illuminates decisions that were right, many that were wrong, and the consequences for the US and our allies. It is a book well worth reading. I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kay Brooks

    The Too Long War Inside the pages of The Long War you will learn how the war in Afghanistan was doomed from the very start. David Loyn, a reporter for the BBC, documents the story from the invasion of Afghanistan until shortly before its end. He was there and witnessed the miscalculations and mistakes that were made from the beginning. This important book will take you there, explain the actions that were taken, and not taken, from the prospective of the people in charge. Much can be learned fro The Too Long War Inside the pages of The Long War you will learn how the war in Afghanistan was doomed from the very start. David Loyn, a reporter for the BBC, documents the story from the invasion of Afghanistan until shortly before its end. He was there and witnessed the miscalculations and mistakes that were made from the beginning. This important book will take you there, explain the actions that were taken, and not taken, from the prospective of the people in charge. Much can be learned from this waste of time, money, and personnel for a war that was never really fought to win. It is a difficult book to read, but important to help you understand the intricacies of this war and its effect on the people who were caught in its grasp. The war in Afghanistan was abruptly terminated on August 31, 2021. The tragedy of this hasty and ill-planned action may continue for years. I received an advance copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Brown

    Advance copy from NetGalley. Essential reading, particularly given the disastrous, dishonorable withdrawal from the country precipitated by the current administration, a disaster anticipated by this author. The Long War will surely be recognized as one of the early authoritative histories of the war in Afghanistan. It is, however, not only a detailed historical account but an extensive analysis of what went right, what went wrong and what should of been done. Mr. Loyn not only spent a lot of time Advance copy from NetGalley. Essential reading, particularly given the disastrous, dishonorable withdrawal from the country precipitated by the current administration, a disaster anticipated by this author. The Long War will surely be recognized as one of the early authoritative histories of the war in Afghanistan. It is, however, not only a detailed historical account but an extensive analysis of what went right, what went wrong and what should of been done. Mr. Loyn not only spent a lot of time reporting on the ground in Afghanistan, before and during the war, but he also served its President, enabling him to provide analysis most historians and reporters cannot. If only this book could have been put on Mr. Biden's desk months ago, or on the desk of any one of his predecessors. Highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand the 20 year conflict in Afghanistan and the potentially irreparable consequences of President Biden's hasty, ugly retreat.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    After 20 years, more than a trillion dollars, 3000 lives, and 4 U.S. presidents we have succeeded in kicking the Taliban out of Afghanistan and returning control to……the Taliban. Author David Loyn had the catbird’s seat, first as a BBC reporter and later as an advisor to the office of the Afghan president. He takes the reader through the early days of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, though the hiring and firing of not one, but two generals (McKiernan and later McChrystal After 20 years, more than a trillion dollars, 3000 lives, and 4 U.S. presidents we have succeeded in kicking the Taliban out of Afghanistan and returning control to……the Taliban. Author David Loyn had the catbird’s seat, first as a BBC reporter and later as an advisor to the office of the Afghan president. He takes the reader through the early days of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, though the hiring and firing of not one, but two generals (McKiernan and later McChrystal) and through the spending of billions of U.S.dollars. “ The Long War” is essential to understand the need to know how to exit before you ever enter. The book is important to understanding that war is about more than fighting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Suzette

    This is a very detailed look at Afghanistan as it has emerged over the past 20 years. It is a book that will be understandable for those in the general public and intellectuals alike. It looks at the historical perspectives from not only the Americans involved but also the Afghanis. It is thoughtful that the author doesn’t offer his opinions to skew what opinions the reader will form. It forms a great resource for students who may be studying political science or international affairs in school.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

    A lot of people are not aware of how deathly this war has become, killing so many people. David Loyn an award winning foreign correspondent for 30 years for the BBC lays it all out for us in detail. Great information on the wars in the Middle East following 9/11. The military have put in so much effort to end this war by putting their lives on the line. David Loyn you did a great job. I learned details that saddened me that I was not aware of but needed to know. This book is worth reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    The Long War is by David Loyn, who was a reporter for the BBC and later (apparently 2015) became a "US Funded Afghan Government Strategic ''. Mr Loyn gives the reader his opinions and glimpses into the generals and other participants of the Afghanistan War. I think Mr Loyn has included some (all?) of the agreement Donald Trump made with the Taliban. I say I think because I cannot read whatever language it is written in. We all understand that hindsight is 20/20 and I am of the opinion that like The Long War is by David Loyn, who was a reporter for the BBC and later (apparently 2015) became a "US Funded Afghan Government Strategic ''. Mr Loyn gives the reader his opinions and glimpses into the generals and other participants of the Afghanistan War. I think Mr Loyn has included some (all?) of the agreement Donald Trump made with the Taliban. I say I think because I cannot read whatever language it is written in. We all understand that hindsight is 20/20 and I am of the opinion that like the Afghanistan War this book is longer than it needed to be. I want to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an early copy to review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Gave up. Could tell within the first couple of chapters it was from the view point of “they meant well”. The wars of the 21st century have been perpetrated by blood soaked monsters and I want real insight and information. Not pro empire fluff. It may have gotten better but when I read something about Obama having a heavy heart sending boys off to war I knew this wasn’t the insight I was looking for. Bush, Obama, Trump and good portion of the people who surrounded them should be in jail for war c Gave up. Could tell within the first couple of chapters it was from the view point of “they meant well”. The wars of the 21st century have been perpetrated by blood soaked monsters and I want real insight and information. Not pro empire fluff. It may have gotten better but when I read something about Obama having a heavy heart sending boys off to war I knew this wasn’t the insight I was looking for. Bush, Obama, Trump and good portion of the people who surrounded them should be in jail for war crimes. Don’t expect sympathy from me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Romero

    What an absolute mess this effort was from the start I don't believe any of the different strategies would have resulted in anything close to a "win". So many competing interests and so many con men and an unbelievable amount of dysfunction and corruption. I don't like the way we left all that much but I'm glad we're out. The perils of a manufactured country with ethnic and tribal loyalties rendering any national loyalty secondary at best. What an absolute mess this effort was from the start I don't believe any of the different strategies would have resulted in anything close to a "win". So many competing interests and so many con men and an unbelievable amount of dysfunction and corruption. I don't like the way we left all that much but I'm glad we're out. The perils of a manufactured country with ethnic and tribal loyalties rendering any national loyalty secondary at best.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Len Boselovic

    Excellent book not withstanding all the nice words for many of the U.S. leaders involved, political and military. At times, the author makes them sound smart enough to solve the problem individually, but not collectively. Certainly puts President Biden's decision in sharper context. Failed to convince me that the problem was solvable at the start. Excellent book not withstanding all the nice words for many of the U.S. leaders involved, political and military. At times, the author makes them sound smart enough to solve the problem individually, but not collectively. Certainly puts President Biden's decision in sharper context. Failed to convince me that the problem was solvable at the start.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The author has been in my opinion a nice unbiased look at events in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2020. A really in-depth look at how milatary events unfolded and the success and failures. Very insightful and eye opening. The author has done a wonderful jobs in relaying this time during the war/

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    I received an advance copy of, The Long War, by David Loyn. This book is about the war in Afghanistan. It is told from a military perspective. It is a very good book, on what are men and women went through. A lot of politics.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Horace Derwent

  20. 4 out of 5

    Choo Yao Chuen

    Good read. Learnt a lot about the war now.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This was an very interesting book. The author gave an excellent analysis of the history of war in Afghanistan. The clarity and insight of what went wrong and what was right in America's involvement in war with Afghanistan is amazing. This books has so much information that was not really known and helps with understanding why this war went on so long and failed. The information and insight from those that were their is crucial to understanding the war. This is an excellent book for anyone studyi This was an very interesting book. The author gave an excellent analysis of the history of war in Afghanistan. The clarity and insight of what went wrong and what was right in America's involvement in war with Afghanistan is amazing. This books has so much information that was not really known and helps with understanding why this war went on so long and failed. The information and insight from those that were their is crucial to understanding the war. This is an excellent book for anyone studying the War in the Middle East.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Irwin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Prolfeswgu.Edu

  24. 4 out of 5

    Clain Jaques

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Becker

  26. 4 out of 5

    Penny

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mycah Long

  28. 5 out of 5

    Will

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cat

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rob Williams

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