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Download The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan, by J. Kael Weston Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: J. Kael Weston Narrator: J. Kael Weston Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A powerfully written firsthand account of the human costs of conflict, The Mirror Test asks that we as a nation look in the mirror and address hard questions about America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

J. Kael Weston spent seven years on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan working for the State Department. The US government sent him to some of the most dangerous frontline locations. Upon his return home, traveling the country to pay respect to the killed and wounded, he asked himself: How and when will these wars end? How will they be remembered and memorialized? What lessons can we learn from them? Questions with no quick answers, but perhaps ones that might lead to a shared reckoning worthy of the sacrifices of those, troops and civilians alike, whose lives have been changed by more than a decade and a half of war. With a novelist’s eye, Weston takes us from Twenty Nine Palms in California to Fallujah in Iraq, Khost to Helmand in Afghanistan, Maryland to Colorado, Wyoming to New York City, as well as to out-of-the-way places in Iowa and Texas. We meet generals, corporals and captains, senators and ambassadors, NATO allies, Iraqi truck drivers, city councils, imams and mullahs, Afghan schoolteachers, madrassa and college students, former Taliban fighters and ex–Guantanamo Prison detainees, a torture victim, SEAL and Delta Force teams, and many Marines. The overall frame for the book, from which the title is taken, centers on soldiers who have received a grievous wound to the face. There is a moment during their recovery when they must look upon their reconstructed appearance for the first time. This is known as “the mirror test.” Here, like grains of sand, Weston gathers these voices and stories—Iraqi, Afghan, and American—and polishes them into a sheet of glass, one he offers to us as a national mirror. What Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie did for Vietnam, The Mirror Test does for Iraq and Afghanistan. An unflinching and deep examination of the interplay between warfare and diplomacy, it is an essential book—a crucial look at America now, how it is viewed in the world, and how the nation views itself.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Kael Weston is the conscience of our wars. After spending more time in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other American diplomat, he has emerged with a powerful-yet-nuanced story of sacrifice, misadventure, humanity, and resilience. This is not another war memoir or a volume of combat reportage, but one of the few truly great and enduring books about America in the post-9/11 world.”

    Rajiv Chandrasekaran, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Few Americans have served their country with greater courage, commitment, and lucidity than Kael Weston. As the United States comes to terms with over a decade of war, it needs his values and vision.”

    Roger Cohen, author of The Girl from Human Street and Soldiers and Slaves

  • “Kael Weston has written more than a book, he has written a requiem for the dead and the living. For those of us who fought and still fight in America’s never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan any sense of closure will continue to be illusory until we as a nation reckon with how this conflict has refigured our identity. Until then, The Mirror Test gives us something to gather around: our monument in pages.”

    Elliot Ackerman, author of Green on Blue

  • “Kael Weston is an American hero. He has spent more time in Iraq and Afghanistan than any general, diplomat, journalist, or grunt. He has seen the wars up close, lived their cultures, watched people die. As a frontline political officer for the State Department, Weston has perhaps seen more of Iraq and Afghanistan than any single American. But what makes this book special—what makes Weston special—is his ability to transcend his own experience and bring it all home, and force us, as Americans, to ask ourselves the larger questions that these wars demand. This is a necessary book, and one that will last.”

    Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War

  • The Mirror Test is an elegy, and a love story, and like all elegies and love stories it involves equal parts ardor and heartbreak. It is also an assignment to Americans: look at yourselves, look at these wars. It’s not only Weston’s experience at State which place him in a position to deliver this assignment; it’s his humanity, humility, and literary grace. These qualities bleed through the pages of this book, and reflect the humanity, humility, and grace of its subjects—Marines in Fallujah, Iraqis and Afghans in Anbar and Khost, leaders who tried to do right. And eventually, essentially, of civilians who mourn their children among the war dead.”

    Lea Carpenter, author of Eleven Days

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