A frank and honest memoir by Britain’s former ambassador to Kabul which provides a unique, high-level insight into Western policy in Afghanistan. The West’s mission in Afghanistan has never been far from the headlines. For Sherard Cowper-Coles, our former Ambassador, Britain’s role in the conflict – the vast amount of money being spent and the huge number of lives being lost – was an everyday reality. In Cables from Kabul, Cowper-Coles takes the reader on a journey through the backstreets of Afghanistan’s capital to the corridors of power in London and Washington. He pays tribute to the tactical successes of our soldiers but asks whether these will be enough to secure stability. Nobody is better placed to tell this story of embassy life in one of the most dangerous places on earth. Powerful and astonishingly frank, Cables from Kabul explains how we got into the quagmire of Afghanistan, and how we can get out of it.
‘The clearest, best informed, and most honest account yet of why and how Britain was drawn deeper and deeper into the Afghan war, by the man who knows more about it than just about anyone else. If you want to understand what really happened, you absolutely have to read this book.’ JOHN SIMPSON
‘Unquestionably the most important record yet of the diplomatic wrangling that has accompanied the slow military encirclement of western forces in Afghanistan. Extraordinary’ WILLIAM DALRYMPLE, OBSERVER ‘Vividly portrays the plight of an envoy who really cared about his brief, and felt unable to keep silent about looming failure in a vital region where western intervention has been bungled’ MAX HASTINGS, SUNDAY TIMES ‘A highly readable and witty account by one of our most dynamic and impressive diplomats’ DAILY TELEGRAPH ‘A supremely urbane, frustrated and brilliant valedictory diagnosis of the problems of Afghanistan’s recent past’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
Sherard Cowper-Coles was born in Kent and educated at New Beacon School, Tonbridge School and Hertford College, Oxford where he read Classics. He entered the Foreign Office in 1977, where he enjoyed a 30-year career, holding a string of high-profile overseas diplomatic postings in Beirut, Alexandria and Cairo, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Washington and Paris. His first book, Cables from Kabul, chronicling his diplomatic tenure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was published to great acclaim.