For almost five years, Kim Barker was the South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, directing coverage of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, meaning she was more at home in a plane than anywhere else. She covered natural disasters like the tsunami in Asia and the earthquake in Kashmir. She tracked man-made disasters - the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the corruption in Afghanistan, the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Through all of it, she tried to keep her sense of humor.
After the Tribune decided to cut back on foreign coverage, Barker quit in April 2009 to write The Taliban Shuffle and become the Edward R. Murrow fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She freelanced for Foreign Affairs, The Daily Beast, Reader's Digest and The Atlantic. Barker, who previously worked at The Seattle Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review, is now a general-assignment reporter at ProPublica working on enterprise and investigative stories.
Kim Barker's website
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An introductory letter about The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker
When I arrived in India in 2004, I started keeping notes on everything, always with the intent of writing that foreign-correspondent tome that every foreign correspondent seems to write. I just didn't know which one. Serious and noteworthy, I figured. I had won most of my journalism awards at The Seattle Times for being a good digger, a good investigative reporter. And I was great at pathos. I could do grim with the best of them.
It didn't work out that way.
The germ of this book started over cocktails in Kabul, no doubt. Someone needed to write a book about the crazy social scene, the disco and toga parties, the fact that the constraints of working in Afghanistan and the desire for release turned everything into a drunken fraternity party. Somebody needed to update M*A*S*H. At least, that's what everyone said, while drinking bootlegged bottles of Jacob's Creek red that stained our teeth purple and cost $40 instead of $6. All the journalists joked about doing such a book, but buried with daily stories and the increasingly grim scene, no one did.
I thought about it - but I wanted any book to be bigger than that. While in the U.S. in 2007, suffering from ...
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