Paperbacks of the year: Every Man in This Village is a Liar: An Education in War, By Megan Stack

The 'war on terror' was a lie. Believe me – I was there

Megan Stack writes in this book that "the 'war on terror' never really existed".

Her formulation recalls Jean Baudrillard's statement that "the Gulf War never happened", but unlike Baudrillard (whose argument was so much postmodern posturing) she does not doubt the real suffering that this "war" generated. Nor could she, having immersed herself in the "salt and blood" of battle during a decade spent reporting from the Middle East. Her point is that the phrase implies a unity of purpose that the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan never had. This superb memoir is an essential account of what those conflicts looked like on the ground: messy, diffuse, quixotic.