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Download The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan Audiobook, by Kim Barker Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.55 out of 53.55 out of 53.55 out of 53.55 out of 53.55 out of 5 3.55 (22 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kim Barker Narrator: Kirsten Potter Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9780307881137
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A true-life Catch-22 set in the deeply dysfunctional countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, by one of the region’s longest-serving correspondents.

Kim Barker is not your typical, impassive foreign correspondent—she is candid, self-deprecating, laugh-out-loud funny. At first an awkward newbie in Afghanistan, she grows into a wisecracking, seasoned reporter with grave concerns about our ability to win hearts and minds in the region. In The Taliban Shuffle, Barker offers an insider’s account of the “forgotten war” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, chronicling the years after America’s initial routing of the Taliban, when we failed to finish the job.

When Barker arrives in Kabul, foreign aid is at a record low, electricity is a pipe dream, and of the few remaining foreign troops, some aren’t allowed out after dark. Meanwhile, in the vacuum left by the US and NATO, the Taliban is regrouping as the Afghan and Pakistani governments floun­der. Barker watches Afghan police recruits make a travesty of practice drills and observes the disorienting turnover of diplomatic staff. She is pursued romantically by the former prime minister of Pakistan and sees adrenaline-fueled col­leagues disappear into the clutches of the Taliban. And as her love for these hapless countries grows, her hopes for their stability and security fade.

Swift, funny, and wholly original, The Taliban Shuffle unforgettably captures the absurdities and tragedies of life in a war zone.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Remarkable…[Barker] has written an account of her experiences covering Afghanistan and Pakistan that manages to be hilarious and harrowing, witty and illuminating, all at the same time.”

    Michiko Kakutani, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for the New York Times 

  • “Kim Barker gives a true and amusing picture of hellholes and the reporters on assignment in them. But she breaks the journo code of silence and reveals a trade secret of the hacks who cover hellholes: the hell of the holes is that they’re kind of fun.”

    P. J. O’Rourke

  • 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.”

    Chicago 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 

  • “[An] immensely entertaining memoir.”

    Boston Globe

  • “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.”

    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.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • The Taliban Shuffle gives us an insider’s perspective of Afghanistan and Pakistan—their fascinating cultures, unstable governments, and burgeoning terrorist groups…With dark, self-deprecating humor and shrewd insight, Barker chronicles her experiences as a rookie foreign reporter and the critical years when the Taliban resurged amidst the collapse of the Afghan and Pakistani governments.”

    The Daily Beast 

  • “Politically astute and clearly influenced by Hunter S. Thompson, Barker provides sharp commentary on the impotence of American foreign policy in South Asia after the victory against the Taliban…Fierce, funny and unflinchingly honest.”

    Kirkus Reviews 

  • “Brilliant, tender, and unexpectedly hilarious.”

    Marie Claire

  • “Candid and darkly comic…With self-deprecation and a keen eye for the absurd, Barker describes her evolution from a green, fill-in correspondent to an adrenaline junkie.”

    Publisher’s Weekly 

  • The Taliban Shuffle isn’t like any other book out there about Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s witty, brilliant, and impossible to put down.”

    Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City

  • “Laugh-out-loud funny, it is the true story of what it is like to be a female journalist in one of the world’s most exotic war zones, while telling the reader much about what is really going on today in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

    Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

  • “Yes, there are bombs. And there is carnage. And all sorts of mayhem. But mostly there are people, human beings even, with appetites—for life, for adventure, for riches, for love. Ms. Barker offers this world—the human world caught in the crosshairs of history—with a vitality rarely seen in accounts of the war. A compelling read that offers readers a glimpse of the goings-on behind the byline.”

    J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Morleymor | 2/15/2014

    " Too many personal issues mixed up with very shallow reporting of events in Pakistan, Afganistan and India. The author seems to enjoy the thrill of events more than a desire to use her journalistic skills to improve a dire situation. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kimberly | 2/11/2014

    " I couldn't even finish this one. In fairness, the author does state that she wasn't/isn't an expert on the region, so I can't really hold it against her. The narrative, however, feels full of college-type theme parties set against the backdrop of the messiness of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, I felt that I was reading more about her trysts with other journalists and westerners on assignment there rather than what was going on in a bigger context. I guess I didn't expect the memoir to be as personal and . . . I dunno, juvenile? as I found it to be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martin Grayson | 2/9/2014

    " Details all the facts and reasons why US engagement in Afghanistan is an exercise in ludicrous futility. Vietnam II, anyone. Why don't we ever learn. Or is the several trillion dollars a year we spend on the military - not to mention the military contractors (three of them for every soldier in uniform) - just too big an engine to shut down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/5/2014

    " Entertaining read and you learn something too! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bob | 2/2/2014

    " This very personal account of the author's six years spent covering the chaotic political situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan was at times humorous and shocking, but always entertaining and full of insight. Like many of her colleagues, Ms Barker evolved from an inexperienced journalist to full-fledged war junkie who felt more at home in the dusty, dangerous streets of the Middle East than in her native United States. During the process she interviewed and befriended the top political figures of both Afghanistan and Pakistan and fended off a few of their less than professional advances. Skillfully balancing political insight with humorous accounts of her own attempts to achieve some sense of balance in the Middle East, Ms. Barker has created an excellent piece of work that should satisfy all readers of the political genre. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jana Jackson | 1/24/2014

    " Have you ever wondered about those reporters based in Pakistan or Afghanistan? They're more than a byline in the newspaper or a voice on the radio. This book gives the reader details about what it's like to be a foreign news correspondent, in a dangerous place, when the profession of journalism is changing too fast to keep up. I didn't like what I learned, but I'm glad I read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily Silberstein | 1/12/2014

    " Fun read. Interesting view on the forgotten wars of Afghanistan andPakistan, intertwined with her quirky life story "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meg M | 11/26/2013

    " The book was decent enough, but there was something uneven in the cadence of the story that left me wanting more. But, in the end, I'm sure there was plenty more the author wanted from her story, too, so I'll give it three stars and move on. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deirdre | 11/8/2013

    " really fascinating inside view on afghanistan and pakistan from a journalist that lived in and reported on the region for years. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angela | 9/3/2013

    " Bleh...I'd say more if I thought it was on any of my followers radar. Don't recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pete Nickeas | 1/30/2013

    " The book was as much about the author's experience as it was Pakistan and Afghanistan. Great book, easy read, and gave me a lot to think about (personally - outside the whole Afghanistan-Pakistan state of things). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Josiah | 11/27/2012

    " Interesting read. She paints a colorful picture and leaves the reader to make their own conclusions about her and her life, while giving a few of her own opinions of a time and place that clearly left a deep impression "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rob Varsalone | 10/7/2012

    " I knew Kim when I was overseas....this is a great book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Molly | 8/31/2012

    " Irreverant look at a reporter's life in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Makes you think about the conditions the soldiers are enduring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie | 7/25/2012

    " American journalist living in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2000's. A different perspective on these countries. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jorie | 11/20/2011

    " She has a very interesting and approachable way of writing about a very complicated subject. This book is extremely enjoyable and puts Nawaz Sharif in a WHOLE new light. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracey Eaton | 9/8/2011

    " "The Taliban Shuffle" was great. I could see it as a movie. Kim Barker is funny, insightful and courageous. Her writing seems genuine. In other words, she's not making this up. She lived it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jen8998 | 6/7/2011

    " War correspondent Barker narrates her years covering developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a dry sense of humor. Amusing, illuminating and disturbing on occasion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stargrave | 5/15/2011

    " Interesting read. She paints a colorful picture and leaves the reader to make their own conclusions about her and her life, while giving a few of her own opinions of a time and place that clearly left a deep impression "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Effie | 5/1/2011

    " An easy, entertaining refresher course on the last ten years in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 KO | 4/6/2011

    " Good fun read about a first world journalist in the parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where first world journalists hang out, along with a few interesting anecdotes "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jen8998 | 3/23/2011

    " War correspondent Barker narrates her years covering developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a dry sense of humor. Amusing, illuminating and disturbing on occasion. "

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About the Author

Kim Barker was the South Asia bureau chief for The Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009, based in New Delhi and Islamabad. Her book about those years, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a dark comedic take on her time in South Asia, was published by Doubleday. The movie version, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, was released in 2016, starring Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Margot Robbie and Billy Bob Thornton. Barker is now a metro reporter at The New York Times, specializing in investigative reporting and narrative writing. Before joining The Times in mid-2014, Ms. Barker was an investigative reporter at ProPublica.
 

About the Narrator

Kirsten Potter, who graduated with highest honors from Boston University, has narrated numerous audiobooks and has performed for television and in theaters across the country. She has won several awards, including eleven AudioFile Earphones Awards, and been a three-time finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. Her work has been recognized by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and by AudioFile magazine, among many others.