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The Dogs Are Eating Them Now

Our War in Afghanistan

List Price: $16.95

January 12, 2016 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 304 Pages | ISBN 9781619026193
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“[Smith] delivers a story that derives real emotional impact from his passion for Afghanistan, and his sorrow at its fading from Western view into a morass.” —TIME

For readers of Sebastian Junger, Philip Gourevitch, and Dexter Filkins, Graeme Smith’s brilliant book is a raw, uncensored account of the war in Afghanistan from a young reporter who for several years was the only Western journalist brave enough to live full-time in the perilous southern region.

With a new foreword by the author, The Dogs are Eating Them Now is a highly personal narrative of our war in Afghanistan and how it went dangerously wrong. Written by a respected and fearless former foreign correspondent who has won multiple awards for his journalism (including an Emmy for the video series “Talking with the Taliban”) this is a gripping account of modern warfare that takes you into back alleys, cockpits, and prisons–telling stories that would have endangered his life had he published this book while still working as a journalist. Smith was not simply embedded with the military: He operated independently and at great personal risk to report from inside the war, and the heroes of his story are the translators, guides, and ordinary citizens who helped him find the truth. They revealed sad, absurd, touching stories that provide the key to understanding why the mission failed to deliver peace and democracy.

From the corruption of law enforcement agents and the tribal nature of the local power structure to the economics of the drug trade and the frequent blunders of foreign troops, this is the no-holds-barred story from a leading expert on the insurgency. Smith draws on his unmatched compassion and a rare ability to cut through the noise and see the broader truths to give us a bold and candid look at the Taliban’s continued influence–and at the mistakes, catastrophes, and ultimate failure of the West’s best intentions. And with the American retreat from Afghanistan in 2016 still a point of contention, there has never been a more urgent need for a comprehensive and intelligent look at our war in Afghanistan.

GRAEME SMITH is a Senior Analyst for the International Crisis Group, the world’s leading independent, non-partisan source of analysis and advice to governments and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. He covered the Afghan war for The Globe and Mail from 2005 to 2009, spending more time in southern Afghanistan during that period than any other Western journalist. The winner of many awards for investigative reporting—including an Emmy Award, the Amnesty International Award, three National Newspaper Awards, and the Michener Award for public service journalism granted once annually by Canada’s head of state—he lectures widely and served as an Adjunct Scholar at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Based in Kabul, he travels frequently to Washington and Brussels.


“America’s experience in Afghanistan is only part of the story. Smith, a correspondent for Toronto’s Globe and Mail, reported from the frontlines on Canada’s involvement, and documents here his gradual disillusionment with the war’s mismanagement. The author spent years developing sources and knowledge in the region and delivers a story that derives real emotional impact from his passion for Afghanistan, and his sorrow at its fading from Western view into a morass.” —TIME

 “Graeme Smith’s memoir is a cutting account of how the Afghanistan conflict unraveled. His recollections—of embedding with a coalition offensive and covering a Taliban jailbreak, for example—underscore the emotions (revenge, hate, distrust) that made the fight unwinnable.” —Mother Jones

“[Smith’s] book has the emotional candor of a memoir and the geopolitical acuity of an expert policy paper… His prose is clear and strong.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Smith’s book seems destined to be a standout: a compelling, self-revealing account of a reporter coming to grips with a big story and his own feelings of shock and disappointment.” —Los Angeles Times 

“As Afghanistan endures yet another Taliban resurgence, this exemplar of frontlines reporting is finally published south of the (Canadian) border… The fog of war dissipates, and what’s revealed is bleak, sometimes graphic, and often devastating to the big picture.” —Vulture/New York Magazine

“Eloquent and sometimes-hallucinatory…Smith is a master of the battlefield description, but he’s even better at slyly noting the ironies and complexities of the war…Cheerless and even nightmarish, one of the best books yet about the war in Central Asia.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“…gripping and disheartening testimonies to the hell of war and the resilience of foreign correspondents.…a timely story of the perils of reporting from a region deeply inhospitable to Westerners.…These obstacles make his stories about prisoner abuse, the Canadian role in the surge, and meetings with Taliban fighters all the more remarkable.…he champions further investment in the region.” —Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

“Here the author recounts his experiences as a journalist embedded with Canadian military troops and includes stories of villagers, soldiers, and Taliban insurgents in gripping and often gory detail.…Most compelling are Smith’s interviews with 30 prisoners tortured by Afghanistan security police and his exposing of the massive drug trade that enriched both government officials and Taliban insurgents.…Recommended for readers of battlefield accounts and those seeking a better understanding of the Afghani people.” —Library Journal

“Lucid, angry, and grief-stricken…Smith’s memoir, The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, is the definitive…account of the Afghan war thus far. No one emerges from it unscathed, least of all its author. . . . The evolution of Smith’s feelings about the war, as he slowly came to understand its moral grey zones and the true nature of the insurgency, is the central, harrowing narrative of this book. . . . This is the marvel of the book: Despite its very bleak tone, and its scathing assault on Western hubris, the author’s empathy—for ordinary Afghans, and for ordinary…soldiers—shines through.” —The Vancouver Sun

“Graeme Smith . . . stayed longer than most, took extraordinary risks around Kandahar and in Quetta across the Pakistani border, interviewed the Taliban (despite criticism for giving a microphone to the enemy) and, more than anyone else, exposed the story of Afghan prisoner detainees turned over by Canadians and other NATO forces to local authorities, who tortured and abused them. . . . A wise, enthralling, detailed, realistic account of his time in Afghanistan. . . . Many are the lessons from Mr. Smith’s book, but one emerges above all: that the presence of foreigners did not necessarily turn the tide against the Taliban. Indeed, the foreigners’ military forays and strange (to the Pashtuns) ways may even have allowed the Taliban to survive and, ultimately, to grow.” —Jeffrey Simpson, The Globe and Mail

“Graeme Smith has long since demonstrated that he is one of the most resourceful and well-informed reporters covering Afghanistan. In his very well-written and entertaining new book he dissects the Western project in Afghanistan with deep reporting and analysis. It is a pleasure to read even if his conclusions are sobering.” —Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad

“This is a Dispatches for a new generation. Brilliant writing, unforgettable scenes, fascinating characters, a propulsive narrative and crucial insights into what went wrong in the blundering Western intervention in Afghanistan. Written by a man who embedded himself deeply and courageously in Afghan society.” —Geoffrey York, author of The Dispossessed: Life and Death in Native Canada

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