To many Americans, 2011 was the make-or-break year in Afghanistan, a year during which NATO somehow was supposed to pave the way for American troops to end what had become, a decade after the invasion, the longest foreign war in U.S. history. To most Afghans, in whose land the United States was fighting the war, 2011 was a year of renewed violence and of renewed fatalism. But ultimately, it was very much a year like many before it and probably many to come: Of celebrations and toil, of children born and dying, a year of drought and henna parties, of hardship and joy, of desolation and beauty, of unnamable ache and incorrigible dignity. Another year of life.
“If you can’t understand a country just from looking at the cities, you certainly can’t understand a war just from reading about the battles. A decade after the fall of the Taliban, as the Afghan war spread alarmingly from the south and the east of the country into what had hitherto been the relatively peaceful provinces of Northern Afghanistan, Anna Badkhen spent a year embedded not with NATO forces but with the rural population of the often ignored north. She did this at considerable personal risk, traveling alone to villages and cities to deliver a story that has rarely been told by Western journalists.”