Drawing upon Gannon's years of experience as an AP correspondent in Afghanistan, this contemporary history of the country is strongest when it focuses on the ins and outs of reporting. Particularly compelling is her account of being the only Western journalist allowed into Kabul after 9/11. Less gripping, but still sound, is her "big picture" overview of the Taliban regime, from its origins as a humble vigilante force assembled to stop post-Soviet corruption to its eventual overthrow in 2001. Gannon takes the United Nations to task for refusing to confront the Taliban on women's rights, thereby abetting its repressive edicts, and argues that Osama bin Laden orchestrated the destruction of Afghanistan's ancient Buddhist temples in order to turn the country into a safe zone for himself. But Gannon also has little respect for the current mujahedeen leaders, underlining their reputation as "mass murderers" while noting their possible links to bin Laden. Some readers might wish that Gannon had tied together the various strands of her analysis more neatly, but her firsthand knowledge of the region ultimately gives her interpretation of its recent history strong legitimacy.