Winner of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-fiction
The international bestselling account of America's grim involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan from 2001 to 2016.
In the wake of the terrible shock of 9/11, the C.I.A. scrambled to work out how to destroy Bin Laden and his associates. Superficially the invasion was quick and efficient, but Bin Laden's successful escape, together with that of much of the Taliban leadership, and a catastrophic failure to define the limits of NATO's mission in a tough, impoverished country the size of Texas, created a quagmire which has now lasted many years. At the heart of the problem lay 'Directorate S', a highly secretive arm of the Pakistan state which had its own views on the Taliban and Afghanistan's place in a wider competition for influence between Pakistan, India and China, and which assumed that the U.S.A. and its allies would soon be leaving.
Steve Coll's remarkable new book tells a powerful, bitter story of just how badly foreign policy decisions can go wrong and of many lives lost.
About the Author
Steve Coll is most recently the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Ghost Wars. He also won a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism. He covered Afghanistan as the Washington Post's South Asia bureau chief between 1989 and 1992 and has been the Post's managing editor since 1998. He is the author of five books, including On the Grand Trunk Road and The Taking of Getty Oil. He lives with his wife and three children in Maryland.
"Every assertion is carefully sourced and checked. This book is in the finest traditions of American investigative journalism. Coll is the thinking man's Michael Wolff."
Sherard Cowper-Coles, The Times
"A masterful and entertaining account ... the story is delivered with a literary prowess that has been absent in previous western accounts of America's longest running war."
Rafia Zakaria, Guardian
"Spectacular ... Directorate S has a cast of characters that makes Bourne movies pale in comparison."
Demetri Sevastopulo, Financial Times
"Impressively detailed, stylishly crafted and authoritative... as gloomy as it is compelling."