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The courage to be afraid

Dexter Filkins has produced an astonishing book about Iraq: an account that tells us everything we don't want to know

By Tom Streithorst   January 2009

The Forever War: Dispatches from the War on Terror by Dexter Filkins (Bodley Head, £18.99)

In James Meek’s latest novel, We Are Now Beginning Our Descent, a troubled hack, returned from Afghanistan, goes to a dinner party in Clapham. The host, a rich leftist, making conversation, just trying to be polite, asks: “What was it like in Afghanistan?” Our hero replies: “You don’t want to know.” The host tells him of course he wants to know, why wouldn’t he want to know? Our hero continues to demur, the host continues to insist. Finally the answer comes, clear and memorable: the…

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