There Is No Goat by Jennifer Dunham – *****

there is no goatthere is no goat by Jennifer Dunham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This fascinating first-person account by a counter-intelligent agent stationed in Afghanistan is at times mind-boggling, eye-opening, and gut-splitting funny. The author describes her many interviews of Afghan men in clear, unadorned tell-it-like-it-is prose. It reads more like a government CI report (of which I’ve read many) than a work of literature, but it works. She was stationed near the Pakistani border in a base surrounded by small rural Pashtun villages. The level of ignorance, deceit, corruption, poverty, and stupidity she describes is almost hard to believe, yet it all rings dismayingly true. Politically correct it’s not, and the one or two bad reviews are clearly coming from the self-appointed PC police. There are Afghan men who don’t know the names of their children and sometimes not even how many they have. Another man thought his father was two years older than he was. One job applicant described how his brother was killed by an IED while that same brother was in the next room interviewing for the same position. If you ever plan to go there, read this first. The author clearly has a red, white, and blue soldier’s political leaning, but you wouldn’t want anything else in a military CI agent, now would you? Still, the picture she paints makes you wonder why we ever went there and certainly proves, as if any proof was needed, what an utter failure the idea of nation building is in this tribal land where national borders are just lines on a map.

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