The Gardener of Lashkar Gah: The Afghans who Risked Everything to Fight the Taliban (Hardcover)

The Gardener of Lashkar Gah: The Afghans who Risked Everything to Fight the Taliban By Larisa Brown Cover Image
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"Beautifully researched and deeply moving, [this book] brought me to tears more than once" -- John Simpson, The Guardian

"First-class...exhaustively researched and sensitively written" -- The Times

The extraordinary true story of the Afghans
who risked their lives for us

The sudden withdrawal of British and American troops from Afghanistan in 2021, ended the 20 year war on terror, yet it also left Afghanistan to be reconquered by the Taliban. As violence and religious fundamentalism once again overwhelmed the region, thousands of Afghans who loyally served the British and American armies were left behind.

This is the story of what happened to them when the West left

The Gardener of Lashkar Gah follows the extraordinary journey of Shaista Gul, a kind former-policeman who built a beautiful garden inside a military base in Helmand Province that became famous as a calm oasis for soldiers with troubled minds. Other members of his family worked for the allies, including his son Jamal, who became an interpreter for the British Army when he was just a teenager. Following the chaotic withdrawal of allied troops, a suicide bombing at Kabul airport and a desperate scramble to re-unite loved ones and evacuate the region, all members of the family suffered.

Larisa Brown - Defence Editor for The Times, award-winning journalist and a campaigner for the interpreters of Afghanistan - has spent hundreds of hours talking to members of the Gul family and others across the region in order to tell their remarkable stories. In heart-warming and beautifully human prose, she unspools a tale of courage, hope and sacrifice - with the beauty of the garden and the hopes and dreams of the family counterpointed against the violence, anger and chaos raging in Afghanistan at the time.

The scandalous betrayal of many of the interpreters and others who worked for the British and American armies is still being revealed. By telling one family's bittersweet experience - The Gardener of Lashkar Gah provides a unique and powerful insight into the devastating effects on ordinary Afghans of the end of the 'War on Terror'.

About the Author

Larisa Brown is a multi-award winning journalist and Defence Editor of The Times. She has many years of experience reporting from conflict zones around the world, including Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. Prior to joining The Times, Larisa was Defence and Security Editor at the Daily Mail where she spearheaded the newspaper's much praised Betrayal of the Brave campaign. It fought for interpreters who helped fight the Taliban to be given sanctuary in Britain and won Campaign of the Year at the British Journalism Awards 2018.

Praise For…

“[Larisa Brown's] account of what happened to one particular family – the father, who used to tend the gardens in a British compound at Lashkar Gah base, his son who worked with British soldiers as an interpreter, and the rest of their relatives – is beautifully researched and deeply moving, her account brought me to tears more than important story” —John Simpson, The Guardian

“Exhaustively researched and sensitively written, The Gardener of Lashkar Gah is a first-class account of one family's struggle to survive the West's ill-fated and ultimately futile war in Afghanistan.” —The Times

“Larisa Brown's storytelling is vivid and compelling, painting a powerful picture of the tragic plight of our Afghan allies. It is an essential story that will define the memory of British involvement in Afghanistan for generations to come.” —Levison Wood, explorer and author of Escape from Kabul

““A brilliant, compelling book that chronicles the human stories behind military intervention in the Middle East and gives the heroes among the Afghan interpreters and other local partners of Western forces the place in history they deserve. A major addition to the history of our operations in the shadow of the Hindu Kush.”” —General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former Director of the CIA

Sitting in the garden in Lash was one of the few places life felt almost normal in Helmand. The roses brought humanity to a harsh environment and a moment of peace in a brutal war. The family who made that space went mostly unnoticed to the soldiers who needed the oasis. Larisa has brought them to the fore and told a story that speaks of so many who served alongside us and who were left homeless by the withdrawal. This is a beautiful book which reminded me of the pain and hope we shared, and the courage and humanity of those we served alongside. In the years gone by I often wondered what happened to that garden and those who tended it. So much we left behind has been lost and trampled, knowing this family's struggles speaks of so many unknowns and unnamed.” —Tom Tugendhat, former officer, former chair of the foreign affairs select committee and current Minister for Security

In the best tradition of intelligent campaigning journalism, with sympathy and insight, Larisa Brown tells the story of one Afghan interpreter and his family abandoned by the British – how many more are there? She exposes the hypocrisy of successive governments that made promises to brave Afghans only to abandon them.” —Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor Channel 4 News, author of In Extremis

“From gardens and guns on Afghan front lines to desks of major powers, this book reveals what it's like to live and die in war. A journalist's eye and an advocate's empathy illuminates the steep price paid by Afghans who sided with Britain.” —Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Chief International Correspondent

“A moving book [...] ably depicts the plight of those who opposed a brutal regime alongside Western forces and still await reprieve.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9781399411028
ISBN-10: 1399411020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English