Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

American Cipher

American Cipher

The explosive narrative of the life, captivity, and trial of Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who was abducted by the Taliban and whose story has served as a symbol for America’s foundering war in Afghanistan

In the early hours of June 30, 2009, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl walked off his platoon’s base. Since that day, easy answers to the many questions surrounding his case have proved elusive. Why did he leave his post? What kinds of efforts were made to recover him from the Taliban? And why, facing court martial, did he plead guilty to the serious charges against him?

In American Cipher, journalists Matt Farwell and Michael Ames persuasively argue that the Bergdahl story is as illuminating an episode as we have as we seek the larger truths of how the United States lost its way in Afghanistan. Telling the parallel stories of an idealistic, misguided young soldier and a nation stalled in an unwinnable war, the book reveals the fallout that ensued when the two collided, and in the process, provides a definitive corrective to the composite of narratives – many simplistic or flawed, unfair or untrue – that have contributed to the Bergdahl myth.

Based on years of exclusive reporting drawing on dozens of sources throughout the military, government, and Bergdahl’s family, friends, and fellow soldiers, American Cipher is at once a meticulous investigation of government dysfunction and political posturing, a blistering commentary on America’s presence in Afghanistan, and a heart-breaking chronicle of a naive young man who thought he could fix the world and wound up as the tool of forces far beyond his understanding.
Read More

Genre: Humanities / History / Military History

On Sale: 10th March 2020

Price: £10.99

ISBN-13: 9781472238801

Reviews

A riveting journalistic account of Bowe Bergdahl's disastrous - and weirdly poignant - choice to walk off his military base in Afghanistan ... A spectacularly good book about an incredibly painful and important topic
Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe and War
Matt Farwell and Michael Ames have written a vitally important book. As an account of Bowe Bergdahl's captivity and eventual release, American Cipher is compelling. Yet it's the backstory that really matters: The crippling dysfunction that permeates the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, beginning in the combat zone and extending all the way back to Washington
Andrew Bacevich, author of Twilight of the American Century
This excellent book is a cautionary tale about what happens when a confused and misguided young soldier is sent off to fight for an equally confused and misguided foreign policy
Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn
Bowe Bergdahl's story should be required reading for all Americans, illuminating as it does so many aspects of an ill-conceived conflict. American Cipher shines a cold, clear light not just on an unending war, but also on the society that pays for it in countless ways. A fascinating book
Andrew Cockburn, author of Kill Chain
Matt Farwell and Michael Ames brilliantly reconstruct Bowe Bergdahl's journey and provide a damning portrait of America's role in Afghanistan, revealing the larger truth of why the U.S. has failed and why the war means unending tragedy for the Afghan people. American Cipher is haunting and moving, a deeply human study of an inhuman conflict. It is one of the most important books I've read about the Afghan war
Anand Gopal, author of No Good Men Among the Living
After his capture by Islamic terrorists, during five years of imprisonment at undisclosed locations across the border of Pakistan, every moment in Bowe Bergdahl's existence became fodder for controversy at an international level. The authors present compelling, convincing evidence that addresses each specific controversial element ... An unsettling and riveting book filled with the mysteries of human nature
Kirkus
Compelling ... In American Cipher the specific facts of Bergdahl's case are elevated to the allegorical, and this is where Farwell and Ames's storytelling really shines ... Farwell and Ames convincingly show that so many of the reasons we've been fighting in Afghanistan for 18 years - bureaucratic inertia, partisan dysfunction, domestic indifference - are the same reasons that, even when Bergdahl's captors eagerly hoped to broker his release, it took so long to recover him
Elliot Ackerman, Washington Post