“The Forever War”

  November 17, 2008


The Forever War,
by Dexter Filkins
(Knopf, 384 pp., $25)

A Model War Correspondent


New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins has written a gripping book, rich in vivid vignettes of courage, chaos, service, depravity, and death. The Forever War is not history or policy analysis. It is more in the nature of a slide show — a series of brief, often stunning, observations, mainly about combatants, victims, and reporters in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Filkins highlights the murderousness of the Taliban, of the Baathists, and of the jihadist terrorists who think of themselves as “forever” at war with the infidels. He introduces us to an Afghan boy, Faiz Ahmad, “seventeen, wearing a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, a hajj cap, and no beard,” who seemed listless but came to life when he had a chance to respond to a question about his religious education. He said his teacher taught him that “it is written in the Koran that we must kill the non-believers.” Filkins writes that Ahmad was “as close to a perfect specimen as the Taliban could imagine,” and quotes him as declaring: “There is no end to the jihad. . . . It will go on forever until doomsday.”



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