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BookBrowse Reviews The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker

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The Taliban Shuffle

Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan

by Kim Barker

The Taliban Shuffle
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2011, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2012, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kevin Bartolotta

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A true-life Catch-22 set in the deeply dysfunctional countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan

At the beginning of The Taliban Shuffle, the dedication reads: "To the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are still waiting for the punchline." This sums up the tone of Kim Barker's excellent nonfiction book. Covering her adventures in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a foreign reporter for The Chicago Tribune, The Taliban Shuffle is a sardonic, satirical piece of long-form journalism, tinged with bitterness. Lacking much by way of an overriding narrative, the book instead follows Barker in a magpie fashion as she tries to make sense of an impossible conflict, and in the process becomes both fascinated and emotionally tied to the country.

The Taliban Shuffle is entertaining more than analytical and Barker avoids moralizing or being pedantic at all costs. Instead she focuses on all the strange and incomprehensible details of her encounters, the ...

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