Book Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker

28109886Title: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 320 pages
Format: Ebook (ARC)
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 4/5

Now a Major Motion Picture titled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton.

From tea with warlords in the countryside to parties with drunken foreign correspondents in the “dry” city of Kabul, journalist Kim Barker captures the humor and heartbreak of life in post-9/11 Afghanistan and Pakistan in this profound and darkly comic memoir. As Barker grows from awkward newbie to seasoned reporter, she offers an insider’s account of the region’s “forgotten war” at a time when all eyes were turned to Iraq. Candid, self-deprecating, and laugh-out-loud funny, Barker shares both her affection for the absurdities of these two hapless countries and her fear for their future stability.

Happy Wednesday everyone!! I am really excited because I recently got the opportunity to read an ARC of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in exchange for an honest review. I remember going to the theatre recently and seeing the trailer for the film adaptation and thinking instantly that it was something I needed to see and read so when the opportunity came to read and review this book I had to take it. Thank you to the publisher and the author for giving me that opportunity!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  (originally published as The Taliban Shuffle)is the memoir of international journalist Kim Barker who travels from her home in the US to live and work in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kabul. It is about her life and career chasing stories and connections while also finding a home and friendships.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot. I think going into it I didn’t expect it to be as event driven as it was. I’m used to memoirs reading somewhat like fiction. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot felt very real with the journalist in Barker and her humor shining through. As someone who has always been interested in the people, culture and events of this region I really enjoyed seeing events through the authors eyes. It was interesting to see how she lived in relation to other westerners, other journalists and also just generally as a woman in a place where western women are viewed in a specific, often harsh light.

I really liked this book and I am giving it four stars. It was enjoyable and appealed to the International Relations major in me and I also really liked Kim and her portrayal of herself. There will always be a part of me that wished I had walked a similar path so this reading this was a good exercise for me. One thing I would definitely say to keep in mind while reading it is that this is a memoir. It is not a history textbook or a deep, exploratory look at a culture or historical events although there is some of that included in this book as well. This is a persons specific experience of people, places and events. That’s what I loved about it.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in book form was released yesterday February 23rd and the movie releases March 4, 2016. I cannot wait to see what Tina Fey brings to the role of Kim Barker. Is anyone else going to see this movie or interested in reading this book or have your read this book already? Thoughts? Let me know and enjoy!

Happy Reading!


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 in 2011. The movie version, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” will be released in March 2016, starring Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Margot Robbie and Billy Bob Thornton. Barker has covered natural disasters such as the tsunami in Asia and the earthquake in Kashmir, as well as tracked manmade disasters — the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the corruption in Afghanistan, and the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Before going overseas, Barker worked at The Seattle Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. After coming back in 2009, she was the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she freelanced for Foreign Affairs, Reader’s Digest and The Atlantic. In 2010, she joined ProPublica, where she wrote about campaign finance and the fallout of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Barker, who grew up in Montana and Wyoming, now lives in Brooklyn and works as a New York Times metro reporter specializing in investigative reporting and narrative writing.

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