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No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan [Paperback]

Ben Anderson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 2012

The war in Afghanistan is over ten years old. It has cost countless lives and hundreds of billions of pounds. Politicians talk of progress, but the violence is worse than ever.


In this powerful and shocking exposé from the front lines in Helmand province, leading journalist and documentary-maker Ben Anderson (HBO, Panorama, and Dispatches) shows just how bad it has got. Detailing battles that last for days, only to be fought again weeks later, Anderson witnesses IED explosions and sniper fire, amid disturbing incompetence and corruption among the Afghan army and police. Also revealing the daily struggle to win over the long-suffering local population, who often express open support for the Taliban, No Worse Enemy is a heartbreaking insight into the chaos at the heart of the region.


Raising urgent questions about our supposed achievements and the politicians’ desire for a hasty exit, Anderson highlights the vast gulf that exists between what we are told and what is actually happening on the ground. A product of five years’ unrivalled access to UK forces and US Marines, this is the most intimate and horrifying account of the Afghan war ever published.

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No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan + Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan + Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain's Afghan War
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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; Reprint edition (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185168977X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689774
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Essential reading

(The Bookseller)

Similar to Michael Herr's high-octane Vietnam War classic, Dispatches, Anderson delivers a gritty, brutal, realistic account of British and American troops on the Afghan frontlines in a bitter counterpoint to all the policy concessions and peace chatter.

(Publishers Weekly)

"Unusually courageous… With humor, compassion and a fine eye for detail, Anderson meticulously pieces together each scene with the skill of a good choreographer… [This is] an engrossing blow-by-blow account of the nuts and bolts of modern warfare."

(Kirkus Reviews)

Anderson's book makes a vivid contribution to the record of the conflict, and left me gasping at his courage.

(Max Hastings for The Sunday Times)

"An essential if unsettling synopsis that brutally strips away any pretence that this is a just or even necessary conflict ... Highly recommended for those with even a passing interest in what is being done in our name in far-off Afghanistan."

(Military History Monthly)

‘[A] brilliantly observed but troubling memoir… [an] outstanding book.’

(Daily Mail)

"Wonderful… offers real insight into the war."

(The Sun)


(Warfare Magazine)


"The best book from the frontline so far... Will do for Afghanistan what Michael Herr's Dispatches' did for Vietnam. If you thought it was bad in Helmand, you were wrong. Anderson shows that it is much worse than that."

(Frank Ledwidge - Bestselling author of Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afgha)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Neocon Tragedy 28 Oct 2012
By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a riveting and all too true account of the war in Afghanistan, a war that has already lasted longer than the two world wars added together. It is a war, the result of a knee-jerk reaction by Bush in response to 9-11, that has cost trillions of dollars, and billions of pounds for Britain. The reasons for our involvement have been repeatedly changed by government over the years.
Numerous accounts by diplomats, historians, soldiers, and journalists have demonstrated again and again that: the war is being lost; there has been incompetence at every level by politicians, senior soldiers,and development agencies; money is running out for so-called reconstruction (or as Anderson points out many soldiers believe it ought to be called construction); COIN tactics and operations have failed because Afghanistan is unlike any other country where these tactics have been tried;corruption is on a massive scale from the Karsai central government down to the smallest hamlet; NATO forces are not welcome in Afghanistan-although our money is; the police are corrupt and responsible for most of the crime; heroin is routinely taken by the ANA, ANP and ALP; the culture is one that regards the regular abuse of young boys as normal, central government has no influence at local level where tribal politics hold sway, and the Taliban are a very mixed bunch of people.
All of this and more is supported by Anderson's account. He pulls no punches.He points out the crucial importance of the NW provinces of Pakistan for the Taliban to retreat to in order to recuperate, train and recruit.
It is worth remembering that in over 150 insurgencies in the last 200 years only two have been won by the conventional forces, and there were very special reasons for these victories none of which apply in Afghanistan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Journalist Ben Anderson has been visiting Afghanistan since the summer of 2007. He notes, "on each visit I was told that the Taliban were on their last legs, the Afghans were almost ready to provide security for themselves and the government was almost ready to govern."

But in the real world, "the only thing I ever saw happen was an increase in troop numbers and a corresponding increase in casualties, military and civilian. This, I was told, was further evidence of the Taliban's desperation and proof that the insurgency was in its last throes." "Violence in 2011 was greater than the previous year, as it has been every year since 2006."

He notes, "What happened next, after vital resources had been diverted to Iraq, was simply a return to predatory power politics and the rule of the warlords. To a place where the corrupt and vicious thrived and the most able and honest were sidelined. The state of affairs that had allowed the Taliban to sweep to power in the first place. The 2005 elections, which might have led to truly representative government, were a sham, with some observers claiming that fraudulent votes outnumbered the genuine."

Anderson focuses on the south's Helmand province where the war was fiercest, the focus of first the British, then the US, efforts. 60 per cent of the Afghan National Army deserted when they were deployed to Helmand. By 2006, Helmand was the world's biggest producer of illicit drugs.

NATO gave control of the army and police to the Northern Alliance, which is hostile to southern Pushtuns. Anderson reports, "People approached marines in the bazaar, saying: `Please don't leave us alone with those guys', referring to the police. The same thing happened in every town I'd seen cleared.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening 21 Mar 2012
I am not usually into war books , but I have often wondered what is really going on in Afghanistan today and this book summarises the shoe situation perfectly. It's a must read- it submerges you into the true reality of the conflict ! The style is original and eye opening as the brave journalist Ben Anderson who follows, for weeks and months on end, the US Marines and British soldiers as they carry out the biggest military operations. He's right there when people are getting killed around him, risking his life again and again. Because he is right there on the frontline, he sees what's really happening, from all angles. This gives you a broad insight into how difficult it has been for the fighting troops- and how terrifying it is for the innocent local people. Truly gripping, clever and compassionately written the book takes you through all the emotions. I'm reading it again already.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Portrayal 18 April 2012
I am one of those who was there, who was followed by Ben. His account of what he saw is accurate and honest. My thanks to him for recording 'my war' for my children and, one day, grandchildren.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, sad, depressing... 17 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having made do with the version of events provided by the politicians over the past few years, this is the first time that I have heard about the war in Afghanistan from someone on the ground. The picture is bleak. Millions of pounds, and thousands of lives, have been sacrificed in this pointless struggle. The "good guys" and the "bad guys" among the Afghan population are pretty indistinguishable, and I fear that when the last professional troops come home next year the country will simply collapse.
Ben Anderson put himself in a great deal of danger to get this story. And he has told it remarkably well.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and well recorded
This is a difficult subject to deal with, but delivered here with such honesty that I was gripped from beginning to end. Read more
Published 2 months ago by .mcmahon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
True insight to the war in Afghanistan
Published 2 months ago by P Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Military history.
Brilliant read, get into the minds of those who serve and see it from their point of view.
Published 2 months ago by Mr Sean Wheeler
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read
This book demonstrates how we are being deceived by politicians about the war in Afghanistan. I read this when my boyfriend was deployed and it was hard going but necessary to... Read more
Published 17 months ago by K. Draper
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
This book is ok but very negative towards coalition forces. The fundamental problems of Afghanistan are not the fault of Isaf. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Rory Neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
We are lied to by the government. Only by reading these first hand accounts do we discover the truth about what our troops go through on our behalf. Read more
Published 21 months ago by hodge
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful stuff
Highly recommended to view the Afghan war from the ground, where all of the action is
A great read and Anderson's account is gripping
Published 21 months ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this is you really want to know what's happening in Afghanistan
Well written, illuminating book about the reality of the war in Afghanistan, the repeated mistakes are staggering as well is the failure of some of the key players to see what is... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Neil McCann
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight
An updated insight in the conflict.
I would recommend 'The Life of Sir Frederick Roberts' or 'Forty One Years in India 'where similar problems and victories where won by the... Read more
Published 22 months ago by G. Gibbs
2.0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan is the new Vietnam
The working thesis of this book is: Afghanistan is the new Vietnam, and those who are involved in the war are either incompetent, or purposefully incompetent. Read more
Published on 23 May 2012 by Amazon Customer
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