A New York Times Editors' Choice A Military Times Best Book of the Year
J. Kael Weston spent seven years on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan working for the U.S. State Department. Upon returning home, traveling throughout the United States to pay his respects to the dead and wounded, he wondered what lessons, if any, could be learned from these wars.
In this essential book, Weston questions, interprets, and explains our wars in the Middle East through a tapestry of voices—Iraqi, Afghan, and American—taking readers across California and Fallujah, Khost and Colorado. Along the way we meet generals, corporals, and captains, former Taliban fighters, Afghan schoolteachers, SEAL teams, imams, and many Marines.
When will these wars end? How will they be remembered? Perhaps no one is better suited to tackle these important questions than Weston. The Mirror Test is an unflinching look at warfare and diplomacy, and a necessary reckoning with America’s actions abroad.
About the Author
JOHN KAEL WESTON represented the United States for more than a decade as a State Department official. Washington acknowledged his multi-year work in Fallujah with Marines by awarding him one of its highest honors, the Secretary of State's Medal for Heroism.
Praise for J. Kael Weston’s The Mirror Test: “Closely observed and illuminating. . . . Weston’s reportage recalls the finest foreign correspondence of the Iraq and Afghan wars.” –The New York Review of Books
“Weston is. . . a diplomat of great bravery, erudition and heart who befriended Afghans and stood up to his superiors. . . . The emotional core of The Mirror Test is Weston’s profound love for the Marines. . . . Weston is [a] civilian hero.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Weston, who worked as a State Department official for more than a decade, brings balance and cultural perspective different from the previous war books. . . . Along the way, he heralds humanitarian efforts and describes a fascinating dynamic of American dollars simultaneously rolling out to fund the allied war effort and the Afghan infrastructure.” —The Desert News
“This book shines when it recounts Weston’s day-to-day dealings with Marines (and Iraqis and Afghans). . . . [The Mirror Test] deserves a salute.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Weston, a former State Department official, spent seven courageous and harrowing years on the front lines as a political adviser to American troops. His memoir offers a serious examination of the effects of terrorism from a personal and emotional perspective.” —The New York Times (Editors’ Choice)
“As a former Foreign Service officer, Weston is perfectly positioned to provide a different perspective on these wars’ sometimes-particular complexities. . . . The Mirror Test offers insights into tribal, cultural and religious dynamics; the limits of military power as a political instrument; the use of drones; the heavy reliance on special operators; cooperation and failed cooperation among military services, agencies and allies.” –The Washington Post