Kabul: Final Call

Kabul: Final Call

The true story of the withdrawal from Afghanistan

Laurie Bristow

  • A dramatic day-by-day account of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021, the events that led to it, and the chaotic evacuation
  • Recounted by the last British Ambassador to Afghanistan and one of the last civilians to leave in August 2021
  • Reveals the challenges, difficult decisions and conditions in Kabul during the horrific final days and the evacuation from Kabul airport


Print edition: £18.99
234 x 156mm
c 256 pages
illustrated with 60 colour photos and 3 maps
February 2024

On 15 August 2021, the world watched in horror as Kabul fell to the Taliban, almost exactly 20 years after western-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban government in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. During those 20 years the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies tried to build a modern democratic society in Afghanistan, alongside fighting a counter-insurgency war and eradicating al-Qaeda terrorism. The campaign cost the lives of 457 British soldiers, 2402 United States soldiers, and countless Afghan soldiers and civilians. For years Afghanistan was at the top of the UK’s defence and foreign policy priorities. The UK spent tens of billions of pounds on the military campaign and on aid. The United States spent trillions of dollars.

How did all this come to nothing, in just a few short weeks?

This book tells the shocking and troubling inside story of the last days of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Told by the last British Ambassador to Afghanistan, it offers a no-holds-barred insight into the looming collapse of Afghanistan as western military forces pulled out. It catalogues the political intrigues among the Afghan elite and the indifference of western politicians for whom Afghanistan was a no-win quagmire. It describes the horror of the chaotic evacuation from Kabul. And it pays tribute to the quiet heroism of the British soldiers and civilians on the ground, who brought over 15,000 vulnerable Afghans to safety, against impossible odds, in under two weeks.

Afghanistan is no longer top of the news. But the people of Afghanistan continue to pay the price of failure – particularly Afghan women and girls. So too do the families of the soldiers – Afghan as well as British and American –  who gave their lives, and those whose bodies and minds were broken by the war. This book offers an unblinking assessment of the causes, the meaning and the human cost of the disaster in Afghanistan.

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