The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan

In This Review

The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan
By Michael Hastings
Blue Rider Press, 2012
432 pp. $27.95

In this book, Hastings, a young freelance reporter, chronicles his adventures covering the war in Afghanistan. He believes the American-led military intervention there was unwise and will lead to no lasting benefits, for it has been based on self-serving myths about counterinsurgency strategies and the quality of the Afghan state. The book includes some sharp accounts of the stresses the war has placed on American troops and features a depressing portrayal of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But the heart of the book is the story of how Hastings managed to get access to General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and members of his inner circle in order to write a profile for Rolling Stone. Their unguarded behavior and comments, which Hastings duly reported, ultimately cost McChrystal his job. The book addresses important issues about how reporters should relate to the military and the wars it fights, as well as less important ones about how Hastings organizes his life.