I'd seen the trailers for the film of WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT
before I read the book. The movie stars Tina Fey and is
marketed like a comedy. The book -- a memoir by American
newspaper reporter Kim Barker -- has plenty of humorous
moments, but it's definitely not a comedy.
Barker went to the Middle East in 2002 as a foreign
correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Her book trips back
and forth through the next seven years, describing her
encounters with warlords, politicians and common people. She
embeds with troops, examines deadly bombing sites, and
parties intensely with other western journalists. She seems
to thrive on the dangers that punctuate life in a repressive
society torn apart by war.
Barker also offers a great deal of insight into the
differences between Middle Eastern cultures and Western
ideals. Sometimes the backgrounders on the various sects and
the relationships of diverse factions seem to drag down the
pace of the book, but you should muddle through them because
they're important. You can't appreciate the next scenes
without a thorough understanding of what led to them.
In the midst of chaos and combat overseas, Barker was also
dealing with a media revolution in the United States. The
Tribune, like other news agencies, was facing severe
cutbacks and an evolving landscape for information
dissemination. On the frontier, so to speak, she finds
herself someone removed from the changes, so her occasional
visit home brings intense shocks at the differences.
If you want to understand more about the Middle Eastern
conflicts and why it's been so tough to develop democracy
there, read WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT. You will have a new
appreciation for the situation.
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