Summary from Member Dr Nina Mistilis

It was beyond surreal reading August in Kabul: America’s Last Days in Afghanistan by Andrew Quilty, which recounted the people’s experiences during the chaotic, heartbreaking last days of the United States in Afghanistan, whilst Australian media graphically reported the turbulent unfolding events in Israel and Gaza.

The author immediately plunges the reader into those shocking days in 3 parts, namely “Early August – Everything was out of control”; Mid-August – “The Taliban are at the Gates” and Late August – “The War was now in Kabul”.

The narrative derives from the author’s interviews of participants who lived through these days – Afghan soldiers, Presidential Palace staff, American servicemen at the airport and young Afghans just wanting to flee. As such the book gives the reader extraordinary insights into the effects on ordinary citizens and others of civil conflict, the inability of the Afghan government to support, and protect its people and the dire consequences of failed United States policies. The author and participants put their lives in danger during and after these days by participating in these interviews.

The Book Club members had mixed responses to the Book, some thought events moved so fast it was hard to follow the different characters, while others were impressed by the author’s insights into the Afghan government and United States policies. All commended the great courage of the author who undertook this project and the respondents who agreed to participate.

Three-word summaries included “abandoned Afghanistan anguish”; “futile compromised mistakes”; “a chaotic betrayal” and “history repeats itself”. Scores out of 10 averaged 6.2.

“August in Kabul: America’s Last Days in Afghanistan” concludes our year of books. Time indeed flies, and now is the season for thoughtful planning as we prepare to return in 2024 with more stories to tell you. Stay tuned for our upcoming agenda.