The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker
Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan

70%

9 Critic Reviews

What’s remarkable about “The Taliban Shuffle” is that its author, Kim Barker — a reporter at ProPublica and the South Asia bureau chief for The Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009 — has written an account of her experiences covering Afghanistan and Pakistan that manages to be hilarious and harrowing, witty and illuminating, all at the same time.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A true-life Catch-22 set in the deeply dysfunctional countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, by one of the region’s longest-serving correspondents.

Kim Barker is not your typical, impassive foreign correspondent—she is candid, self-deprecating, laugh-out-loud funny. At first an awkward newbie in Afghanistan, she grows into a wisecracking, seasoned reporter with grave concerns about our ability to win hearts and minds in the region. In The Taliban Shuffle, Barker offers an insider’s account of the “forgotten war” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, chronicling the years after America’s initial routing of the Taliban, when we failed to finish the job.

When Barker arrives in Kabul, foreign aid is at a record low, electricity is a pipe dream, and of the few remaining foreign troops, some aren’t allowed out after dark. Meanwhile, in the vacuum left by the U.S. and NATO, the Taliban is regrouping as the Afghan and Pakistani governments floun­der. Barker watches Afghan police recruits make a travesty of practice drills and observes the disorienting turnover of diplomatic staff. She is pursued romantically by the former prime minister of Pakistan and sees adrenaline-fueled col­leagues disappear into the clutches of the Taliban. And as her love for these hapless countries grows, her hopes for their stability and security fade.

Swift, funny, and wholly original, The Taliban Shuffle unforgettably captures the absurdities and tragedies of life in a war zone.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Kim Barker

See more books from this Author
KIM BARKER joined the Chicago Tribune in 2001 and was South Asia bureau chief from 2004 to 2009. She currently holds the prestigious Edward R. Murrow press fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations. She lives in New York City.
 
Published March 22, 2011 by Anchor. 322 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Travel, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Taliban Shuffle
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Dec 02 2010

A memoir of the five years the writer spent reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001...Fierce, funny and unflinchingly honest.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Mar 14 2011

What’s remarkable about “The Taliban Shuffle” is that its author, Kim Barker — a reporter at ProPublica and the South Asia bureau chief for The Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009 — has written an account of her experiences covering Afghanistan and Pakistan that manages to be hilarious and harrowing, witty and illuminating, all at the same time.

Read Full Review of The Taliban Shuffle: Strange ... | See more reviews from NY Times

Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by C. Christine Fair on Jun 07 2011

While the author admits these flaws in varying measure, at some point, her self-deprecating accounts of her romps seem more like gimmicky braggadocio rather than self-reflective criticism much less exculpation for region-wide offenses. This is unfortunate.

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The Seattle Times

Good
Reviewed by Tyrone Beason on Apr 21 2011

Barker's memoir is what you'd hear if the reporter never turned off the voice recorder between interviews — brilliant firsthand outtakes that wind up telling us more about the Afghan debacle than any foreign-policy briefing.

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by CAROLYN W. FANELLI on May 23 2011

...if you admire a witty turn of phrase and revel in absurdity, you can’t do better than The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Read Full Review of The Taliban Shuffle: Strange ...

The National

Above average
Reviewed by Graeme Wood on Mar 11 2011

These stories run counter to the currents of history, but they are more enduring than some of the supposedly more serious, and certainly more turgid, monographs that Afghanistan has produced of late.

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The Pacific Northwest Inlander

Above average
Reviewed by Kevin Taylor on Dec 23 2016

As a tall Western woman, Barker also writes laugh-out-loud scenes about spinning around and punching the shorter local men who grope her at press events. Taliban Shuffle is a tragic, funny, merciless good read.

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The Pacific Northwest Inlander

Good
Reviewed by Kevin Taylor on Apr 27 2011

Barker’s vignettes are a cross between Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness...Taliban Shuffle is a tragic, funny, merciless good read.

Read Full Review of The Taliban Shuffle: Strange ...

Readings

Good
Reviewed by Pip Newling on Oct 07 2011

Barker’s story, though, paints the world of foreign correspondents from the inside, with insight and hindsight, and is both appalling and brave and recommended.

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Reader Rating for The Taliban Shuffle
72%

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