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Links to news stories and book reviews

Below you can find selection of articles by Philip Smucker, as well as reviews of his book, and links to other media reports relevant to this reporter and his work.

Select News Reports by Philip Smucker

"Asphalt Dreams", The Atlantic, June 2008

"How bin Laden got away", Christian Science Monitor

"Bin Laden fled to Iran, cook says", Christian Science Monitor

"Looking for the Good Guys in Afghanistan's Badland", US News and World Report; February 14, 2008

"US Aims High in Afghanistan", Asia Times, March 20, 2008

"Al Qaeda Thriving in Pakistani Kashmir", Christian Science Monitor

"Blunders that let bin Laden slip away", Daily Telegraph

"Old texts of Sahara on display", International Herald Tribune

"A view from the roof of the world", International Herald Tribune

"Liberian gold rush threatens forest preserve", International Herald Tribune

"Jihadi Fervor", US News and World Report

"Afghanistan: British fight a subtle war"


Links to Related Media Reports - Transcripts of interviews with Philip Smucker

WASHINGTON POST - Hoodwinked (
Intrepid war correspondent Philip Smucker hung around Pakistan and Afghanistan during late 2001 and early 2002, no simple task given the limited access, ...

MSNBC - 'Scarborough Country' Dec. 15

NPR - "The Diane Rehm Show", July 12, 2004


WASHINGTON POST: Philip Smucker's Al Qaeda's Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail (Brassey's, $26.95) is a lively recounting of the Dec. ... -- How Bin Laden Got Away

US Talk Show Rhetoric Sounds a Rwandan Echo

Orbis: The Great Game and the End Game in Afghanistan

American Journalism Review: Searching for Truth in the Balkans

Pointer Online - Romenesko

File 911: The Afghan Campaign

The Big Story: Applause


Book Reviews


"Christian Science Monitor foreign correspondent Smucker offers an excellent, compact study of the campaign in Afghanistan and expounds a familiar thesis clearly and convincingly: the U.S. military, under not only executive but public pressure for a quick victory in revenge for September 11, adopted a strategy that achieved that victory, but only over the Taliban. Resources were not allocated to the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, many of whom either fled or went underground, to continue to cause trouble in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The bulk of the book details how that was allowed to happen. Smucker is much harsher on U.S. strategists and his fellow journalists than he is on the American fighting men and women in the field, who include not only the glamorous covert operations troops but the humble logisticians "in the air, on land, and sea." Stronger on the military than on the civilian side, Smucker does not adequately deal with the question of whether the pursuit of the Taliban received its priority because of the need for Northern Alliance support, and the Washington-based coverage could have been usefully expanded. Much more literate than most journalistic accounts, this book is not for ideologues at either end of the spectrum, as the struggle for balance and perspective is visible on every page. By the end, the wealth of operational detail will leave readers with a palpable sense of missed opportunity."

"This account of the American campaign in Afghanistan, specifically the battles of Tora Bora and Operation Anaconda, is that of an experienced war correspondent. It covers what happened in the Afghan hills, the strategic policies in Washington, media coverage on the spot, and how bin Laden and scores of his followers were able to escape from Afghanistan, despite the U.S. Army. Besides providing an excellent picture--and pictures--of the war, Smucker explains how information was obtained, used, abused, and just plain ignored, which is important because, although the last thing the media should do during a campaign is provide the enemy with free intelligence, an informed citizenry needs to know this to consider what kind of job the commander in chief has done. War reporting has always been subject to propaganda biases, but Smucker's narrative style makes you feel as if you were there, especially when his "get the story at all costs" impulses take over. So in addition to everything else it is, this is quite a picture of contemporary combat reporting". Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

"It is difficult to grasp how reading about something so depressing can be so much fun.."

KATHERINE SALE , Financial Times, Books of 2004: Terror Firmament - Conflict, December 10, 2004:
"Philip Smucker ... details how, Svengali-like, bin Laden and scores of his men managed to slip out of Afghanistan."

PETER BERGEN, Best Book on Terrorism, 2004:
"...a lively recounting of the Dec. 2001 battle of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan."

RICHARD SALE , The Washington Times, UPI Intelligence Correspondent, November 30, 2004:
"Smucker reminds one of ...Georges Clemenceau ... who having barely escaped a bullet ... replied, "It is my great pleasure!"."