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Intimate War, An: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, 1978-2012
Published by C Hurst and Co Publishers Ltd
A striking insight into how well-meaning outsiders have repeatedly misunderstood the conflict in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and inadvertently exacerbated the violence.
An Intimate War tells the story of the last thirty-four years of conflict in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of the Helmandis. In the West, this period is often defined through different lenses -- the Soviet intervention, the civil war, the Taliban, and the post-2001 nation-building era. Yet, as experienced by local inhabitants, the Helmand conflict is a perennial one, involving the same individuals, families and groups, and driven by the same arguments over land, water and power. This book -- based on both military and research experience in Helmand and 150 interviews in Pashto -- offers a very different view of Helmand from those in the media. It demonstrates how outsiders have most often misunderstood the ongoing struggle in Helmand and how, in doing so, they have exacerbated the conflict, perpetuated it and made it more violent -- precisely the opposite of what was intended when their interventions were launched.
Mike Martin is a Pashto speaker who spent almost two years in Helmand as a British Army officer. During that time, he pioneered and developed the British military's human terrain and cultural capability. His previous publications include A Brief History of Helmand, required reading for British commanders and intelligence staff deploying to the province. He is the co-author of Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place (Shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award (Wanderlust Adventure Travel Book of the Year) and the forthcoming Why We Fight : The Cognitive Basis for War, both published by Hurst.
Reviewer: Caleb Simmons
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