Owen Bennett-Jones

Losing Battle

Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan 2001–2014

By

The Bodley Head 555pp £25 order from our bookshop

In 2006, a British platoon commander was sent to the Afghan town of Sangin in northern Helmand Province to rescue a besieged tribal leader, Dad Mohammad Khan, and his close family. Dad Mohammad was a tough man and local police under his control had a reputation for brutality, rape and murder. ‘There was definitely a feeling among the blokes of “why the hell are we going to support this guy? We should go and kill him, then we would get the locals on our side straight away,”’ the platoon commander recalled. The reason Dad Mohammad was saved, not killed, was that his Alikozai tribe had allied with President Hamid Karzai’s foreign-backed government in Kabul. And the reason he needed rescuing was that he and his family were being attacked by opponents from the Ishaqzai tribe, which had allied itself with the Taliban in the hope of winning control of the area.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,