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    The explosive narrative of the life, captivity, and trial of Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who was abducted by the Taliban and whose story has served as a symbol for America's foundering war in Afghanistan.

    "A riveting journalistic account of Bowe Bergdahl's disastrous - and weirdly poignant - choice to walk off his military base in Afghanistan.... A spectacularly good book about an incredibly painful and important topic." (Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe and War)

    Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl left his platoon's base in Eastern Afghanistan in the early hours of June 30, 2009. Since that day, easy answers to the many questions surrounding his case - why did he leave his post? What kinds of efforts were made to recover him from the Taliban? And why, facing a court martial, did he plead guilty to the serious charges against him? - have proved elusive.

    Taut in its pacing but sweeping in its scope, American Cipher is the riveting and deeply sourced account of the nearly decade-old Bergdahl quagmire - which, as journalists Matt Farwell and Michael Ames persuasively argue, is as illuminating an episode as we have as we seek the larger truths of how the US lost its way in Afghanistan. 

    The audiobook tells the parallel stories of a young man's halting coming of age and a nation stalled in an unwinnable war, revealing the fallout that ensued when the two collided: a fumbling recovery effort that suppressed intelligence on Bergdahl's true location and bungled multiple opportunities to bring him back sooner; a homecoming that served to deepen the nation's already-vast political fissure; a trial that cast judgment on not only the defendant, but most everyone involved. The audiobook's beating heart is Bergdahl himself - an idealistic, misguided soldier onto whom a nation projected the political and emotional complications of service.  

    Based on years of exclusive reporting drawing on dozens of sources throughout the military, government, and Bergdahl's family, friends, and fellow soldiers, American Cipher is at once a meticulous investigation of government dysfunction and political posturing, a blistering commentary on America's presence in Afghanistan, and a heartbreaking story of a naive young man who thought he could fix the world and wound up the tool of forces far beyond his understanding.

    ©2019 Matt Farwell and Michael Ames (P)2019 Penguin Audio


    “Farwell and Ames convincingly rebut popular misconceptions about the then-23-year-old Private Bowe Bergdahl’s desertion of his post in Afghanistan in 2009.... The authors humanize their subject with a detailed look at his life before Afghanistan.... The engrossing narrative intertwines Bergdahl’s odyssey with an effective critique of U.S. policy in Afghanistan under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Readers looking for a nontechnical history of America’s longest war and a nuanced look at Bergdahl’s story will find that here.” (Publishers Weekly)

    “Farwell and Ames recount the complete Bergdahl saga and much of the sorry tale of America’s Afghanistan involvement. They move effortlessly between Bergdahl’s life...and the larger picture of the war and the American political divisions over it.... Farwell and Ames make a great case for the continuum of history, depicting Afghanistan as a graveyard of empires in which the U.S. is the latest victim of a military quagmire and showing how one soldier’s actions can polarize an entire nation. American Cipher sets the record straight on a tragic subject and will strongly appeal to a wide audience.” (Booklist

    “After his capture by Islamic terrorists, during five years of imprisonment at undisclosed locations across the border of Pakistan, every moment in Bowe Bergdahl’s existence became fodder for controversy at an international level. The authors present compelling, convincing evidence that addresses each specific controversial element.... An unsettling and riveting book filled with the mysteries of human nature.” (Kirkus

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    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
    • Interprétation
      5 out of 5 stars
    • Histoire
      5 out of 5 stars
    Image de profile pour Darwin8u
    • Darwin8u
    • 18/03/2019

    An epic he had written in his imagination...

    "Bergdahl’s truth was far sadder than the version that his country had written for him upon his return. His truth also matched what Coe and his friends in Idaho had believed all along: Bowe was a well-intentioned, remarkably naïve twenty-three-year-old with the impulsiveness and judgment of a kid half his age."
    - Matt Farwell, et al, American Cipher

    I was conflicted both about reading this book and reviewing it. The book was a bit tender for me. Bergdahl's parents came to my brother's funeral about 9 years ago in South Eastern Idaho. My brother had recently died in a black hawk crash. He served in Iraq twice, served in Afghanistan twice, was awarded numerous medals for valor, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. My little brother served 16 months in Eastern Afghanistan in the same area, roughly as Bowe Bergdahl spent spent his first month+ in Afghanistan. My father-in-law was a contractor in Kabul, Afghanistan for almost 3 years. My brother-in-law was an Army artillary officer who trained Afghans on using big guns. It is hard for me to have a conversation with a male in my family without discussing Afghanistan. I've read a bunch on Afghanistan, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the subject.

    We've been in this war for nearly 18 years. Men and women are going over to Afghanistan now who weren't alive when 9/11 began. Like many in the West, I can also pretend for days and weeks and months that there isn't a war going on; that people aren't dying, being shot, and being broken (on both sides). In truth, I'm exhausted by it. But I also, at the same time, feel a tremendous responsibility to TRY to understand why we are there, to uncover the "truth" from the wreckage of time, politics, and propaganda. So, I continue to try to read books that get me a bit deeper into understanding the mess that IS the war in Afghanistan.

    So, why did I find it hard to review this book? Well, this book was basically the brain-child of, and co-written by, my brother. My brother and Michael Hastings broke the story open years ago in Rolling Stone. Matt brought the story to Michael and Michael mentored my brother as they co-wrote it in 2012. A few years after they began their collaboration (they co-wrote several articles in Rolling Stone) Hastings died. Bowe Bergdahl and Afghanistan has consumed my brother since. How do I review THAT? How do I keep my bias to a minimum?

    The reality was, however, once I actually started the book I was hooked. The writing was great. There were a couple jumps that were a bit wonky but other than that it seemed to sit easily on the shelf next to Wright's The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 and Junger's War. Just look on the back. Sebastian Junger, Karl Marlantes, Andrew Bacevich, Andrew Cockburn, and Anand Gopal all wrote stunning praise for the copy. Perhaps, my love for the book was independent of my love for one of its authors.

    The book does two things amazingly well: 1. It humanizes Bowe Bergdahl. 2. It illuminates, through the Bergdahl episode, the disfunction of the US military, political system, foreign policy, and our press. This isn't a superficial and partisan look at Bergdahl. The authors don't trash one party, they show the weakness of every administration going back to Carter (and perhaps even Eisenhower) in dealing with Afghanistan. Matt is able to bring out the devil in the details of the military, the CIA, and the bureaucracy in Afghanistan. Michael Ames (and previous work done by Michael Hastings and Matt) provides background on Bowe's youth. It is hard to read this story without appreciating the complexities of Bowe's relationship with his father.

    But it is the way this book weaves the story of Bowe with the policies and decisions in Afghanistan that make this a great (and yes important) book. The prose is fantastic (go read shorter pieces written by my brother in the New York Times or Vanity Fair or Playboy to see my brother knows how to bend a sentence and expand a word). It is well-researched, balanced, and does what good reporting is supposed to do - inform. It also, in the end, provides a nice, neat metaphor for our experience in Afghanistan. It was easy to get over there, but because of our overconfidence and naïveté, extremely expensive and complex trying to leave.

    The audio was great.

    18 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      2 out of 5 stars
    • Interprétation
      5 out of 5 stars
    • Histoire
      3 out of 5 stars
    Image de profile pour Timmy Hill
    • Timmy Hill
    • 08/02/2020

    Thought this would be a good book but

    Some how this turned into a book about Donald Trump. The narrator was good though.

    • Global
      1 out of 5 stars
    • Interprétation
      1 out of 5 stars
    • Histoire
      2 out of 5 stars
    Image de profile pour jake
    • jake
    • 27/09/2019


    When I bought this book I was hoping for something more like the cereal Podcast this however was so BORING and painful this story gives no answers or theory on to why he did what he did that night. the book only talked about political views on the topic and how its Trumps fault everyone calls Bergdahl a trader. save yourself the time and money and pass on this one . I wish I did

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile