Originally published by Doubleday in 2011 as The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and soon to be a major film production by Paramount Pictures, based on Kim Barker’s memoir, WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is due to be released on March 4th, 2016 and stars Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Alfred Molina. Barker uses her wry, incisive voice to expose the absurdities and tragedies of the “forgotten war,” finding humor and humanity amid the rubble and heartbreak.
Kim first arrived in Kabul as a journalist in 2002. At the time she barely owned a passport, spoke only English and had little idea how to do the “Taliban Shuffle” between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her stories about Islamic militants and shaky reconstruction were soon overshadowed by the bigger news in Iraq. The more she delved deeper into Pakistan and Afghanistan, the more her love for the hapless countries grew, along with her fear for their future stability. Read this darkly comic and unsparing memoir before you watch the movie.
From tea with warlords in the countryside to parties with drunken foreign correspondents in the “dry” city of Kabul, journalist Kim Barker captures the humor and heartbreak of life in post-9/11 Afghanistan and Pakistan in this profound and darkly comic memoir. As Barker grows from awkward newbie to seasoned reporter, she offers an insider’s account of the region’s “forgotten war” at a time when all eyes were turned to Iraq. Candid, self-deprecating, and laugh-out-loud funny, Barker shares both her affection for the absurdities of these two hapless countries and her fear for their future stability.
About Kim Barker
For almost five years, Kim Barker was the South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, directing coverage of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. She covered natural disasters like the tsunami in Asia and the earthquake in Kashmir. She tracked manmade disasters — the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the corruption in Afghanistan, the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Through all of it, she tried to keep her sense of humor. After the Tribune decided to cut back on foreign coverage, Barker quit in April 2009 to write “The Taliban Shuffle” and become the Edward R. Murrow fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She freelanced for Foreign Affairs, The Daily Beast, Reader’s Digest and The Atlantic. Barker, who grew up in Montana and Wyoming and previously worked at The Seattle Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review, now lives in Brooklyn and works as a New York Times metro reporter specializing in investigative reporting and narrative writing.
“The Taliban Shuffle is part war memoir, part tale of self-discovery that, thanks to Barker’s biting honesty and wry wit, manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking.”
“What you’d hear if the reporter never turned off the voice recorder between interviews—brilliant firsthand outtakes that wind up telling us more about the Afghan debacle than any foreign policy briefing.”
—The Seattle Times
“At once funny and harrowing, insightful and appalling. . . . The Taliban Shuffle will pull you in so deep that you’ll smell the poppies and quake from the bombs.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“If you’re looking for a window on the challenges facing Afghanistan and Pakistan today—from a resurgent Taliban to American incompetence to Afghan and Pakistani corruption and nepotism—Barker provides a sterling vantage point.”
—San Francisco Chronicle