After a hard day’s work in Afghanistan, Petraeus reads… about Afghanistan

September 22, 2010

After spending 16-plus hours each day running the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, American General David Petraeus tries to thumb through a few pages of a book each night before his eyes close and it falls to the ground.  The most recent topic? Afghanistan of course.

AFGHANISTAN-PETRAEUS/The four-star general told Reuters that currently on his nightstand is a book by a leading expert on the country:  Thomas Barfield, Afghanistan: a Cultural and Political History, a book ranked 21,047 on (as this blog was being published).

The general, speaking in a telephone interview as part of the Reuters Washington Summit, acknowledged that he probably only gets through a few pages each night.

“When you start at working at 5:30 in the morning, and I mean really start working, and you go down somewhere around 2200-2300 (10 p.m.-11 p.m.), you don’t get more than a couple of pages into whatever book you read before it falls on the floor,” he said.

In the preface of the book, Barfield said he embarked on writing the book during what he described as a “period of neglect” of Afghanistan by the Bush administration. Barfield first visited Afghanistan nearly four decades ago as a student and said he decided to write the new book because of the renewed focus on the country by the Obama administration.

Petraeus, widely hailed by both Democrats and Republicans, was tapped by President Barack Obama to oversee the war effort in Afghanistan after his tour leading the U.S. military in Iraq.

Barfield, an anthropology professor at Boston University and head of the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies, was just in Afghanistan and visited the general’s office the other day, Petraeus said.

– Photo credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see