It's been another week of heartbreakingly grim violence in Afghanistan. On Monday, the so-called "spring fighting season" began with a coordinated 18-hour Taliban attack on Kabul. Today, the violence got -- if possible -- even more senseless, with reports of the poisoning of 150 schoolgirls in the northern Takhar province and an explosion at a maternity hospital in Khost.
The scale and cruelty of the violence can often feel incomprehensible, which makes incisive reporting like Anna Badkhen's all the more valuable. Her new e-book is now available for download.
Badkhen, a courageous war correspondent, decided to embed not with American troops but with the Afghan people in 2011. Throughout the year, she returns again and again to the country, traveling by foot, by taxi - and even by donkey - to the remote villages and hamlets of the Afghan North, reporting as the Taliban take over large swaths of territory and also on the unimaginable daily hardships of life in a place where even such basics as water, electricity, a doctor, and a working school are impossible luxuries.
It's a place so remote that even the death of Osama bin Laden barely registers, where war is taken as a fact of life, along with the rituals of mourning and celebration that Badkhen is allowed to witness up close. As bestselling author Peter Bergen says in the special accompanying introduction, it is "a bleak tale told by an expert storyteller."