Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle) by Kim Baker…Review



“Part war memoir, part tale of self-discovery that, thanks to Barker’s biting honesty and wry wit, manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking.”
—Chicago Tribune
“Remarkable. . . . [Barker] has written an account of her experiences covering Afghanistan and Pakistan that manages to be hilarious and harrowing, witty and illuminating, all at the same time.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Brilliant, tender, and unexpectedly hilarious.”
—Marie Claire


Soon to be a major film by Paramount Pictures, WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Alfred Molina, is based on Kim Barker’s memoir.  Previously published as The Taliban Shuffle, Barker uses her wry, incisive voice to expose the absurdities and tragedies of the “forgotten war,” finding humor and humanity amid the rubble and heartbreak.

Kim first arrived in Kabul as a journalist in 2002.  At the time she barely owned a passport, spoke only English and had little idea how to do the “Taliban Shuffle” between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Her stories about Islamic militants and shaky reconstruction were soon overshadowed by the bigger news in Iraq.  The more she delved deeper into Pakistan and Afghanistan, the more her love for the hapless countries grew, along with her fear for their future stability.  Read this darkly comic and unsparing memoir before you watch the movie.


My Review:

I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this book.  I have been seeing the trailer for the movie based off of this story and when I can, I always love to read the book before seeing the film.  I had a wide range of emotions while reading and I truly enjoyed Ms. Baker’s story.

While it was not a funny as I had thought it would be, it was witty, gritty, and really gave an in-depth and unique view into a world and culture we have been hearing about for years, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a fascinating view into what living in the war-torn areas of the Middle East is like and it was both heartbreaking and at times uplifting when you saw glimpses of the promise the future can hold for the people of these countries.  Kim, herself, is one hell of a woman and one I really admired.  She dove right into this very foreign world with a bravery I don’t think she realized she had at the time.  Her experiences and adventures were, at times, difficult and tedious but she always went in with an outlook I think very few people would have been able to have while working and living in such dark times.   I also really enjoyed her stories of our U.S. troops serving over there.  It was a real and candid look at what the mindset was at that time and when Kim would give little hints that something had happened to one of them, I was a nervous wreck. Emotions ran from running very high to dipping very low and it was humbling to read how morale with our troops fluctuated. But while emotional as it was to read, I’m glad Kim gave us that view.

To read the toll this war is taking on everyone involved, from the children, to the shopkeepers, the people covering the war, to the people fighting it…it was a reality check and one that reminded me just how grateful I am to live where I live and to appreciate all of the things I take for granted every day.

From start to finish, this was a book that kept me glued to the pages wondering what was next for Kim and the friends she had made over there.  I highly recommend giving this book a read, whether you’re planning on seeing the movie or not. It was fantastic.  Thank you, Kim, for sharing your story with us!


Four Loves

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Book links:

Amazon  |  B&N  |  iBooks  |  Goodreads

About the author:

Kim Barker was the South Asia bureau chief for The Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009, based in New Delhi and Islamabad. Her book about those years, “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” a dark comedic take on her time in South Asia, was published by Doubleday in 2011. The movie version, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” will be released in March 2016, starring Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Margot Robbie and Billy Bob Thornton. Barker has covered natural disasters such as the tsunami in Asia and the earthquake in Kashmir, as well as tracked manmade disasters — the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the corruption in Afghanistan, and the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Before going overseas, Barker worked at The Seattle Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. After coming back in 2009, she was the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she freelanced for Foreign Affairs, Reader’s Digest and The Atlantic. In 2010, she joined ProPublica, where she wrote about campaign finance and the fallout of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Barker, who grew up in Montana and Wyoming, now lives in Brooklyn and works as a New York Times metro reporter specializing in investigative reporting and narrative writing.





  1. thank you…I’d heard about this and love your review.

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