Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
The Taliban Shuffle
Cover of The Taliban Shuffle
The Taliban Shuffle
Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Borrow Borrow
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 U.S. and NATO, the Taliban is regrouping as the Afghan and...
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 U.S. and NATO, the Taliban is regrouping as the Afghan and...
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1

    WELCOME TO THE TERRORDOME

    I had always wanted to meet a warlord. So we parked our van on the side of the beige road and walked up to the beige house, past dozens of skinny young soldiers brandishing Kalashnikov assault rifles and wearing mismatched khaki outfits and rope belts hiked high on their waists. Several flaunted kohl eyeliner and tucked yellow flowers behind their ears. Others decorated their rifle butts with stickers of flowers and Indian movie starlets. Male ethnic Pashtuns loved flowers and black eyeliner and anything fluorescent or sparkly, maybe to make up for the beige terrain that stretched forever in Afghanistan, maybe to look pretty.

    Outside the front door, my translator Farouq and I took off our shoes before walking inside and sitting cross-legged on the red cushions that lined the walls. The decorations spanned that narrow range between unicorn-loving prepubescent girl and utilitarian disco. Bright, glittery plastic flowers poked out of holes in the white walls. The curtains were riots of color.

    We waited. I was slightly nervous about our reception. Once, warlord Pacha Khan Zadran had been a U.S. ally, one of the many Afghan warlords the Americans used to help drive out the Taliban regime for sheltering Osama bin Laden and his minions after the attacks of September 11, 2001. But like a spoiled child, Pacha Khan had rebelled against his benefactors, apparently because no one was paying enough attention to him. First he turned against the fledg-ling Afghan government, then against his American allies. In an epic battle over a mountain pass, the Americans had just killed the warlord's son. The Pashtun code required revenge, among other things, and now, six days after the battle, here I was, a fairly convenient American, waiting like a present on a pillow in Pacha Khan's house, hoping to find a story edgy enough to make it into my newspaper--not easy considering it was March 2003, and there were other things going on in the world. But Farouq told me not to worry. He had a plan.

    Pacha Khan soon marched into the room. He certainly looked the warlord part, wearing a tan salwar kameez, the region's ubiquitous traditional long shirt and baggy pants that resembled pajamas, along with a brown vest, a bandolier of bullets, and a gray-and-black turban. The wrinkles on his face appeared to have been carved out with an ice pick. He resembled a chubby Saddam Hussein. We hopped up to greet him. He motioned us to sit down, welcomed us, and then offered us lunch, an orange oil slick of potatoes and meat that was mostly gristle. I had no choice, given how strictly Afghans and especially Pashtuns viewed hospitality. I dug in, using my hands and a piece of bread as utensils.

    But just because Pacha Khan fed us, didn't mean he would agree to an interview. The Pashtun code required him to show us hospitality. It didn't force him to talk to me. Pacha Khan squinted at my getup--a long brown Afghan dress over black pants, an Indian paisley headscarf, and cat-eye glasses. I kept shifting my position--with a bad left knee, a bad right ankle, and a bad back, sitting on the floor was about as comfortable as therapy.

    Farouq tried to sell my case in the Pashto language. The warlord had certain questions.

    "Where is she from?" Pacha Khan asked, suspiciously.

    "Turkey," Farouq responded.

    "Is she Muslim?"

    "Yes."

    "Have her pray for me."

    I smiled dumbly, oblivious to the conversation and Farouq's lies.

    "She can't," Farouq said, slightly revising his story. "She is a Turkish American. She only knows the prayers in English, not Arabic."

    "Hmmm," Pacha Khan grunted, glaring at me. "She is a very...

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.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 29, 2010
    Barker, a journalist for ProPublica, offers a candid and darkly comic account of her eight years as an international correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in Afghanistan and Pakistan, beginning shortly after September 11. With self-deprecation and a keen eye for the absurd, Barker describes her evolution from a green, fill-in correspondent to an adrenaline junkie who gets hit on by Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistani prime minister, and becomes adept in "how to find money in a war zone, how to flatter a warlord, how to cover a suicide bombing, how to jump-start a car using a cord and a metal ladder." Barker reveals how profoundly the U.S. continues to get Afghanistan wrong—that American personnel in the country live in a bubble, rarely dealing with Afghans, that they trample on local customs by getting routinely and "staggeringly" drunk despite Islam's prohibition of alcohol, and throw offensive costume parties at the Department for International Development (DFID). In equal measure, Barker elucidates the deep political ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the U.S.'s role in today's "whiplash between secularism and extremism," and blasts Pakistan's leaders for destroying their nation through endless coups and power jockeying.

  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2010

    A memoir of the five years the writer spent reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001.

    Before her first trips as a fill-in correspondent in South Asia in 2001, current ProPublica reporter Barker had little overseas experience. But her life changed in the aftermath of 9/11, when she presented herself to the Chicago Tribune as an ideal candidate for reporting work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Unmarried and childless, she was "expendable." By the time Barker became the bureau chief of the Tribune's Delhi office in 2004, she was a confirmed adrenaline junkie, always looking for her next "fix" of riots, bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and natural disasters. Of the half-dozen countries for which she was responsible, only Afghanistan gave her the "high" she craved. With its "jagged blue-and-purple mountains, and bearded men in pickup trucks stocked with guns and hate for the government," the country seemed a hallucinatory version of her native Montana. Equally at home embedded with troops on the front lines or interviewing Taliban warlords and political elites like Hamid Karzai and Benazir Bhutto, Barker witnessed violence, death and governmental corruption on a daily basis. But unexpected absurdities, such as the attempts of an ex-prime minister of Pakistan to offer the writer choices—himself among them—for romantic "friends," offered occasional comic relief. Her work—and a social life in Kabul that resembled a surreal cross "between a fraternity party and the Hotel California"—became a way she could escape from the relationship failures, which she chronicles with the same candor and edgy wit that characterize the rest of her bold, slightly chaotic narrative. 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. "We had no stick," she writes. "Our carrots were limp after almost eight years of waggling around."

    Fierce, funny and unflinchingly honest.

    (COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Booklist

    February 1, 2011
    War correspondent Barker first started reporting from Afghanistan in 2003, when the war there was lazy and insignificant. She was just learning to navigate Afghan culture, one caught between warring factions, and struggling to get space in her newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. Lulled into complacency, everyone from the U.S. military to the Afghan diplomatic corps to the Pakistani government stumbled as the Taliban regrouped. Very frank and honest, Barker admits a host of mistakes, including gross cultural ignorance that often put her in danger even as she found Afghanistan similar in some ways to Montana, her home state, what with bearded men in pickup trucks stocked with guns and hate for the government. She reports a string of characters: an amorous Pakistani former prime minister, a flashy Afghan American diplomat, an assortment of warlords, drug lords, fundamentalists, politicians, and fellow correspondents struck by wanderlust and plagued by messy personal livesall of them against a backdrop of declining war coverage in declining American newspapers. A personal, insightful look at covering an ambivalent war in a complicated region.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus "Politically astute and clearly influenced by Hunter S. Thompson, Barker provides sharp commentary on the impotence of American foreign policy in South Asia... Fierce, funny and unflinchingly honest."
  • Publishers Weekly "A candid and darkly comic account of her eight years as an international correspondent for the Chicago Tribune...With self-deprecation and a keen eye for the absurd, Barker describes her evolution from a green, fill-in correspondent to an adrenaline junkie... In equal measure, Barker elucidates the deep political ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the U.S.'s role in today's 'whiplash between secularism and extremism,' and blasts Pakistan's leaders for destroying their nation through endless coups and power jockeying."
  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune "Kim Barker's memoir about her five years covering Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Chicago Tribune is brave, funny and outrageous....The Taliban Shuffle will pull you in so deep that you'll smell the poppies and quake from the bombs."
  • Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone "Read this and try not to hurt yourself laughing. Who knew war could be so funny? The Taliban Shuffle isn't like any other book out there about Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's witty, brilliant, and impossible to put down. Think P. J. O'Rourke meets Paul Theroux. Kim Barker is a gifted storyteller, and her intrepid, sometimes wacky travels through these two strife-torn nations will leave you informed, amused, and--depending on your sense of adventure--wanting to tag along on her next trip."
  • P. J. O'Rourke "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."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 99 titles every 1 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

MP3 audiobooks are only supported on macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). Learn more about MP3 audiobook support on Macs.

Close

Please update to the latest version of the OverDrive app to stream videos.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
The Taliban Shuffle
The Taliban Shuffle
Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Kim Barker
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel