Vendor
Chase Agency
Published by
Penguin Press (2019-03-12)
Current material
1st Pass Pages
Original language
English
Themas
Politics & government
BACK

AMERICAN CIPHER

Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan

by Ames, MichaelFarwell, Matt

The explosive narrative of the life, captivity, and trial of Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who was abducted by the Taliban and whose story has served as a symbol for America's foundering war in Afghanistan.

Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl left his platoon's base in eastern Afghanistan in the early hours of June 30, 2009. Since that day, easy answers to the many questions surrounding his case--why did he leave his post? What kinds of efforts were made to recover him from the Taliban? And why, facing a court martial, did he plead guilty to the serious charges against him?--have proved elusive.

Taut in its pacing but sweeping in its scope, American Cipher is the riveting and deeply sourced account of the nearly decade-old Bergdahl quagmire--which, as journalists Matt Farwell and Michael Ames persuasively argue, is as illuminating an episode as we have as we seek the larger truths of how the United States lost its way in Afghanistan. The book tells the parallel stories of a young man's halting coming of age and a nation stalled in an unwinnable war, revealing the fallout that ensued when the two collided: a fumbling recovery effort that suppressed intelligence on Bergdahl's true location and bungled multiple opportunities to bring him back sooner; a homecoming that served to deepen the nation's already-vast political fissure; a trial that cast judgment on not only the defendant, but most everyone involved. The book's beating heart is Bergdahl himself--an idealistic, misguided soldier onto whom a nation projected the political and emotional complications of service.

Based on years of exclusive reporting drawing on dozens of sources throughout the military, government, and Bergdahl's family, friends, and fellow soldiers, American Cipher is at once a meticulous investigation of government dysfunction and political posturing, a blistering commentary on America's presence in Afghanistan, and a heartbreaking story of a naïve young man who thought he could fix the world and wound up the tool of forces far beyond his understanding.


Matt Farwell has written for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, Maxim and other publications.
Michael Ames is a regular contributor to Newsweek. He has also written for Harper's, TheNewYorker.com, The Daily Beast, The Believer, The Atlantic, Slate, and was a western correspondent for AOL's Politics Daily.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Ronit Zafran

Available View on Rightsdesk

Comments

This excellent book is a cautionary tale about what happens when a confused and misguided young soldier is sent off to fight for an equally confused and misguided foreign policy.

Quote: Karl Marlantes, author

Farwell and Ames recount the complete Bergdahl saga and much of the sorry tale of America's Afghanistan involvement. They move effortlessly between Bergdahl's life. . . and the larger picture of the war and the American political divisions over it. . . . Farwell and Ames make a great case for the continuum of history, depicting Afghanistan as a graveyard of empires in which the U.S. is the latest victim of a military quagmire and showing how one soldier's actions can polarize an entire nation. American Cipher sets the record straight on a tragic subject and will strongly appeal to a wide audience.

Review: Booklist, starred review

The authors raise important questions about the psychological fitness of servicemen and -women and the diminishing chances for fair trials and treatment in a nation as polarized as ours today. This will resonate with readers gripped by C.J. Chivers's THE FIGHTERS: AMERICANS IN COMBAT IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ.

Review: Library Journal

First Serial in Vanity Fair

www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/03/the-inside-story-of-bowe-bergdahls-first-day-on-the-lam

Quote: Chase Literary

Matt Farwell and Michael Ames brilliantly reconstruct Bowe Bergdahl's journey and provide a damning portrait of America's role in Afghanistan, revealing the larger truth of why the U.S. has failed and why the war means unending tragedy for the Afghan people. American Cipher is haunting and moving, a deeply human study of an inhuman conflict. It is one of the most important books I've read about the Afghan war.

Quote: Anand Gopal, author

The engrossing narrative intertwines Bergdahl's odyssey with an effective critique of U.S. policy in Afghanistan under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Readers looking for a nontechnical history of America's longest war and a nuanced look at Bergdahl's story will find that here.

www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7352-2104-8

Review: Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Matt Farwell and Michael Ames have written a vitally important book. As an account of Bowe Bergdahl's captivity and eventual release, American Cipher is compelling. Yet it's the backstory that really matters: The crippling dysfunction that permeates the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, beginning in the combat zone and extending all the way back to Washington.

Quote: Andrew Bacevich, author

UK: Headline

Quote: Chase Literary

After his capture by Islamic terrorists, during five years of imprisonment at undisclosed locations across the border of Pakistan, every moment in Bowe Bergdahl's existence became fodder for controversy at an international level. The authors present compelling, convincing evidence that addresses each specific controversial element. . . . An unsettling and riveting book filled with the mysteries of human nature.

Review: Kirkus

If Bergdahl suffered the delusion of believing he could become a savior by solving a crisis of his own making, the case is artfully made in "American Cipher" that America itself is a schizotypal, that we became lost in our own fantasies for Afghanistan, in which we could deliver the Afghan people from a crisis we created.

www.washingtonpost.com

Review: The Washington Post

American Cipher is a riveting journalistic account of Bowe Bergdahl's disastrous - and weirdly poignant - choice to walk off his military base in Afghanistan. Avoiding easy outrage, Matt Farwell and Michael Ames do their best to understand what motivated Bergdahl's wildly irresponsible decision. For in that decision lie truths not only of a troubled mind but also of a troubled nation engaged in a seemingly endless war. This is a spectacularly good book about an incredibly painful and important topic.

Quote: Sebastian Junger, author

Interview with Matt Farwell in The New York Times At War column In an interview with The Times, Farwell talked about America's involvement in Afghanistan, the repeated policy failures of multiple presidential administrations and the public's eagerness to shirk responsibility for the country's longest war...

www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/magazine/bowe-bergdahl-afghanistan-book.html

Quote: New York Times

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