Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan 2001 – 2014
Theo Farrell, Bodley Head, £25.00
Twice as many books have been written about British activities in Afghanistan this century than about the parallel misadventure in Iraq. Some have been superb, Patrick Hennessy’s The Junior Officers’ Reading Club at the top of the pile. Poignant and significant beyond their authors’ intent are the small unit memoirs such as Richard Streatfeild’s Honourable Warriors and Johnny Mercer’s We Were Warriors.
Iraq has led to four government inquiries and reports, while the more bloody and significant engagement with Afghanistan since 2001 has prompted nothing of similar weight. It should have done, not least because the involvement is continuing, and in the present climate of historical denial in Whitehall the mistakes of the past 16 years are sure to be repeated.