• The Hardest Place

  • The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan's Pech Valley
  • By: Wesley Morgan
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 21 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (145 ratings)

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The Hardest Place

By: Wesley Morgan
Narrated by: Mark Deakins
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Publisher's Summary

COLBY AWARD WINNER • “One of the most important books to come out of the Afghanistan war.”—Foreign Policy  

“A saga of courage and futility, of valor and error and heartbreak.”—Rick Atkinson, author of the Liberation Trilogy and The British Are Coming 

Of the many battlefields on which U.S. troops and intelligence operatives fought in Afghanistan, one remote corner of the country stands as a microcosm of the American campaign: the Pech and its tributary valleys in Kunar and Nuristan. The area’s rugged, steep terrain and thick forests made it a natural hiding spot for local insurgents and international terrorists alike, and it came to represent both the valor and futility of America’s two-decade-long Afghan war.

Drawing on reporting trips, hundreds of interviews, and documentary research, Wesley Morgan reveals the history of the war in this iconic region, captures the culture and reality of the conflict through both American and Afghan eyes, and reports on the snowballing missteps—some kept secret from even the troops fighting there—that doomed the American mission. The Hardest Place is the story of one of the twenty-first century’s most unforgiving battlefields and a portrait of the American military that fought there.

©2020 Wesley Morgan (P)2020 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

The Hardest Place captures the heroism, fear, and exultation of combat while laying out a damning portrait of military leaders who rushed into battle against an enemy they didn’t understand and ultimately couldn’t beat.” (Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill)

“[An] impressive debut ... Required reading for anyone who wants to understand the war in Afghanistan.”(Kirkus Reviews)

“Superbly researched and smoothly written ... an essential, thoroughly reported work.” (Library Journal, starred review)

What listeners say about The Hardest Place

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A walk through time

Having twice served in the Pech with the 173rd, the book was eye opening, nostalgic, and overall a reminder that those who fail to study and understand history are doomed to repeat it. Till Valhalla for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. RLTW

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Afghan get strongly recommends

This is the best book on Afghanistan I’ve read, and with two deployments to AFG I tried my best to read as much as I could, and this is by far the best book I’ve read so far. Does a great job of explaining the war year by year, which has been almost impossible in this war.

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Informative Chronicle of the War

I’ve read more exciting war stories. This one is heavy on facts and drags through at some points. It’s heavy on names and events, lite on bias.

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Hardest Place

This was a phenomenal listen, was totally engaged from start to finish. God bless these men

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Was it worth it?

I really enjoyed the thoroughness of this book. Great narration. This is a book all lawmakers, presidents and generals who make decisions for military action should read. It lays out everything that it costs for the US to do war overseas. My only question for those that read it, is do you think it was worth it?

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A must read

In 2011, I was a captain in the 2-27th infantry. I flew up to Bostick one day only to witness the daily onslaught of .50, 7.62, and 2,000lb bombs being brought. On my way home I caught a glimpse of the mouth of the Pech, and wondered what was up there. I have listened to this book three times and it only gets better each time. Very well done.

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Magnificent Read

awesome read for those who are interested in the fight against insurgency in the Kunar, Pech and Korengal Valley.

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A well written narrative of a very complex situation.

I enjoyed the book by Wesley Morgan very much. He does a masterful job of handling an incredible amount of information including hundreds of names of Americans, Afghans and Arabs. The amount of research he had to do is mind-boggling. I feel I have a much better understanding of what we had to deal with in this war. As a Vietnam veteran I can appreciate much of what he describes. I think the complexities in Afghanistan with dozens of different languages and ethnic groups even exceed those in Vietnam.

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The Quintessential Afghan Story

The book any American should read in regards to the past twenty years of our being in Afghanistan. Te frustration you will accumulate with each chapter as the story unfolds is a very real entity that Americans and Afghans alike tangibly experienced as the failure of policy and military strategy brought Afghanistan to where it c struggles today. Additionally, reading Hammerhead Six, The Outpost, and Red Platoon all gather the story of the Pech valley into a cohesive saga that I recommend.

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Kunar Syndrome

For persons that want to understand on a deeper level the "so what" behind America's longest war, look no further. This book dives deep into the Afghan conflict and offers a holistic approach on when events occurred that resulted in critical 2nd, and 3rd order effects. From beginning to end, a complete attention grabber. By far the best book I've read!