cover image A Kingdom of Their Own: The Family Karzai and the Afghan Disaster

A Kingdom of Their Own: The Family Karzai and the Afghan Disaster

Joshua Partlow. Knopf, $28.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-307-96264-5

A veteran foreign correspondent explores America’s entanglement with Afghanistan, our country’s longest war, through the lens of the Karzai family, which wielded power from the 2001 ousting of the Taliban until 2014. That time span encompasses a period of hope, a tempering of expectations, and a near-total breakdown in President Hamid Karzai’s relations with the United States. Partlow, an astute and thoughtful reporter, shows how the U.S. eventually came to view Karzai as hapless—or tacitly complicit—in the face of widespread corruption. The book, however, offers a more nuanced perspective on what went wrong. It focuses mostly on Hamid Karzai, but also profiles his brothers, notably Ahmed Wali Karzai, assassinated in 2011 after years of speculation that he was a narcotics kingpin. Partlow also devotes much space to U.S. failures in battling corruption in Afghanistan, showing how the policy of rotating military personnel through on short tours made it difficult for American service members to familiarize themselves with the country. American military and political arrogance butts up against deep-rooted cultural customs and family networks throughout this excellent account of a vastly difficult topic. [em]Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, Sagalyn Literary Agency. (Sept.) [/em]