Little America: The War within the War for Afghanistan

Author(s): Rajiv Chandrasekaran


The US Government invested millions in Helmand in the 1950s and '60s to transform the barren desert into a veritable oasis - known locally as 'Little America' - and then the money ran out. Four decades later, Helmand was again the focus of US efforts, as waves of Marines descended on the region. Little America tells the story of the long arc of American involvement, and of the campaign to salvage a victory in southern Afghanistan on Obama's watch. Has the war been worth the money and the bloodshed? Through vivid storytelling and on-the-ground reporting, Samuel Johnson Prize-winner, Rajiv Chandrasekeran sets out to find the answer.


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The author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City (winner of the 2007 Samuel Johnson Prize) now gives us the startling, behind-the-scenes story of the struggle between President Obama and the US military to remake Afghanistan.

Vital reading ... comprehensive, perceptive and detailed work ... Little America is powerful and important and should be read by anyone interested in this on-going and deeply depressing war Jason Burke, Observer A handbook on how not to run a foreign war ... the book tells its story extremely well Max Hastings, Sunday Times An enthralling examination of the failures of American decision-making in Afghanistan ... engrossing and sharply reported ... Chandrasekaran has a fine eye for the absurd parallel universe of the cosseted control centres of modern American warfare ... as an examination of the failings of American decision-making it is second to none Alex Spillius, Daily Telegraph A detailed account of Obama's efforts to cope with the blunders made before he took power and to create the conditions for a sustainable US withdrawal ... Chandrasekaran is at his observant best when chronicling the absurdities of the State Department bureaucracy as it went to war in Kabul ... the book is effectively a critique of US policy and performance, and he makes a nuanced and convincing case Julian Borger, Guardian Little America should be required reading for anyone with an interest in foreign interventions, especially Western politicians, soldiers and diplomats, if only to relieve them of the dangerous idea that we are any good at them. There is no arguing with Chandrasekaran's pithy conclusion: "For years, we dwelled on the limitations of the Afghans. We should have focused on ours" Justin Marozzi, Mail on Sunday Rajiv Chandrasekaran ... has impressive access to high-powered sources, but his outstanding ability is to place violence in its strategic context. His book catches the chaos and bloodshed of a firefight in Sangin Andro Linklater, Spectator

Rajiv Chandrasekaran is an assisting managing editor of the Washington Post, where he has worked since 1994. He previously served the Post as a bureau chief in Baghdad, Cairo and Southeast Asia, and as a correspondent covering the war in Afghanistan. He recently completed a term as journalist-in-residence at the International Reporting Project at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, and was a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. He is the author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which won the 2007 Samuel Johnson Prize. He lives in Washington, D.C.

General Fields

  • : 9781408831205
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : July 2013
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : August 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Rajiv Chandrasekaran
  • : Paperback
  • : Aug-13
  • : 958.10471
  • : 384