Book Discussion - The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan's Pech Valley

Virtual event.


The unexpectedly chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan has left many of us with questions about the 20-year war. To gain greater insight, please join PCW for a conversation with Wesley Morgan ’11, author of the recently released book "The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan's Pech Valley," and Joe Holliday '06, a veteran who served in Afghanistan.  Using Wesley’s book as a starting point, they will help us understand the complexities of Afghanistan, bringing perspective to fall of the Afghan government to the resurgent Taliban.


Wesley first visited the Pech in 2010, while an undergrad, embedding with military units as a freelancer. By then, the Pech and its infamous tributary the Korengal had become emblematic of the war, but Wesley found that few of the troops fighting there could explain why their remote outposts had been built. In The Hardest Place, he unravels the history those troops didn’t know, captures the culture and reality of the war through both American and Afghan eyes, and reports on the snowballing American missteps that made each unit’s job harder than the last as storied outfits like Marines, paratroopers, Rangers, Green Berets, and SEALs all took their turn.

Through reporting trips, hundreds of interviews with Americans and Afghans, and documentary research, Morgan writes vividly of large-scale missions gone awry, years-long hunts for single individuals, and the soldiers, Marines, commandos, and intelligence operatives who cycle through, along with several who return again and again to the same slowly evolving fight.


" of the most important books to come out of the Afghanistan war"—Foreign Policy

"Demands your attention, even when you would rather look away"—Washington Post


Wesley Morgan ’11 is a journalist who has been covering the American military and its wars since 2007, including as Politico's Pentagon correspondent from 2017 to 2020. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and other publications. The Hardest Place is his first book.


After graduation, Joe Holliday ’06 served as a US Army Infantry officer in Baghdad, Iran and as an intelligence officer in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.  He continued to serve as a Reserve Intelligence Officer until 2015.  He was a Term Member on the Council on Foreign Relations for 5 years, and currently works at Palantir Technologies. 




When: Sunday, August 29th | 7:00 PM


Where: Zoom (provided after registration)


Click here to RSVP.


Questions? Email the Princeton Club of Washington.



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