Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker

March 4, 2016 Memoirs, Non Fiction 9

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

You know what’s super inconvenient? Books with the same title as other books. Take for example, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. About a year ago I read a book by this title which was written by David Shafer. It was pretty weird (and not my favorite, to be honest, here’s the review.) Of course, it was quirky and partially set in the Middle East with at least one female protagonist, so when I saw that Tina Fey had a movie coming out called Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, I assumed it was based on Shafer’s book. I literally looked at my husband when I saw the first preview and was like “Uh… They seem to have taken a lot of liberties…” Turns out, I was wrong. Well, probably not about the liberties, because you know how Hollywood is, but it’s definitely not based on the aforementioned novel. I know this because I was recently contacted by the publisher of the book the movie is ACTUALLY based on. It is also called Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, BUT it was originally published as The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s by Kim Barker, a foreign correspondent who worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the early 2000s. Are you confused yet? I sort of am. Whew. *As I mentioned already, I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. I’m not good at lying, so you don’t need to worry about compromised integrity. I’m like… the Pinocchio of book reviews. I try to lie and everyone can tell. It’s just not worth the effort.*

whiskeytangofoxtrotWhiskey Tango Foxtrot
AKA The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan is Kim Barker’s memoir based on her years working as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. It’s a delicious “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” sort of book. It contains the things you might expect from a war correspondent’s memoir. I mean, there’s plenty of sadness and danger and tragedy, but Kim Barker’s also got a dark sense of humor about her, which is just the sort of thing I admire in a writer. Barker shares not just the news she covered, but the news behind the news. All the dishy side notes about the foreign journalists’ frat house shenanigans. The relationships gone awry. The adrenaline junkie colleagues. That one time a warlord taught her to wield a Kalishnikov…

If you have any interest in a first hand account of the political machinations of Afghanistan and Pakistan during this time period, you will love this book. If you are interested in the secret life of journalists, you will love this book. If you enjoy explorations of culture clashes, you will love this book.

I must admit that though I do try to stay informed, I hadn’t heard of Kim Barker prior to reading this book. I’m not much of a newspaper reader, which is not a fact I’m particularly proud of, but there it is. Like I said. Pinocchio. I do, however, listen to a lot of NPR. Which is why, upon reading the author’s notes I had a “SANTA?! I KNOW HIM!” moment when Kim Barker thanked Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson for talking her into taking an early morning shot of whiskey. I’m sure there’s a really excellent story there, probably involving extreme awesomeness and nerves of steel. Could these journalists BE any more badass? I think not.

Tell me something, Bookworms! Have you ever gotten your signals crossed with books and movies having the same (or strikingly similar) titles?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

9 Responses to “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker”

  1. Ili

    Ooh thanks for this. I’m a bit iffy about the film but the book sounds like it might be worth a read.
    The most inconveniently similar titles, in my opinion, are Jasper Fforde’s amazing fantasy/dystopia Shades of Grey and, well, you can probably guess the other one. It’s such a shame because Fforde’s book is one of my favourites but every time I talk about it I have to explain “no, not fifty, just unspecified shades of grey, and it’s about a world where different people can only see certain colours and the whole society is built around which shades you can see and and it’s set in a weird future where their religion and history are based on what they have dug up of our civilisation and it’s illegal to manufacture spoons so the only spoons they have are archaeological finds and you should read it because it’s amazing even though he’s taking his time with the second part and I swear it has nothing to do with sex.”

    • Words For Worms

      WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA? I have definitely heard of Shades of Grey (also Between Shades of Grey… I’m assuming that’s different?) I did not know the premise of the Jasper Fford book because I’d been so busy associating him with only The Eyre Affair. Holy crap on a cracker, I need to read this book like RIGHT NOW.

  2. TJ @ MyBookStrings

    Oh, you’re mix-up of the two books with identical titles is even better than mine was, when a while back I wanted to read Shafer’s book and bought Annabelle Smith’s Whiskey and Charley instead. It took me a while before I figured out why the book I was reading didn’t match what I thought the book would be about. 🙂

    • Words For Worms

      Funnily enough, Annabel Smith had to change the title of her book for US release to avoid that confusion, LOL. The Aussie title was Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot and the publishers thought they were too similar.

  3. Megan M.

    I can’t think of a time I’ve gotten books confused myself, but I know people benefit from this kind of confusion a lot. There was a “The Girl on the Train” that got a bump in sales because of the buzz about “Girl on a Train” and there was a woman who had the same title as a Stephen King book. Hers was available as an ebook and his wasn’t (he was purposely holding off on the ebook release for some reason) but a lot of his fans didn’t realize that!

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Oh I have very definitely gotten my title wires crossed in the past before. Like for years it was not clear to me that Becca Fitzpatrick’s YA trilogy series that begins with Hush Hush and Maggie Stiefvater’s YA trilogy series that begins with Shiver were separate sets of books. I didn’t read either of them because one of them sounded dumb. Turns out, great news, one of them IS kind dumb (the Maggie Stiefvater one) but the author has since written brilliant books; and the other one still sounds so dumb that I have no intention of ever reading it.

  5. DoingDewey

    I passed on the chance to read this as a review copy because i was too busy, but I’m loving the movie trailers so I might have to pick this up! 🙂

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