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Hopeless but Optimistic: A Hoosier Reports on America's Endless War in Afghanistan

Wed, Sep 28, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm
President's Room of the University Club

Hopeless but Optimistic: A Hoosier Reports on America’s Endless War in Afghanistan

Independent journalist and author Douglas Wissing will discuss his reporting in insurgency-wracked Afghanistan, and his new book, Hopeless but Optimistic, which is based on his most recent embed with US troops.

This is a close-up of the American war in Afghanistan. It is Afghan life on the streets; the culture and institutions that anneal them; the poetry that enriches them. It includes the perspectives of cynical military lifers and frightened short-timers; true believers and amoral grabbers; Americans and Afghans trying to make sense of two countries surreally contorted by war-birthed extractive commerce.

During Wissing’s research in Afghanistan, he embedded in the volatile eastern Afghan provinces that border Pakistan’s insurgent-controlled tribal regions, Taliban-controlled southeastern Afghanistan, and in Helmand, where the Taliban hold sway. Sharing the physical and emotional pain of American soldiers far from home, he witnessed maladroit development and failed counterinsurgency. Through Wissing’s exploration of the Afghans’ eternal resilience and long-sustained, Afghan-appropriate aid organizations, his story arcs from cynicism to a hard-won equanimity.
Douglas Wissing

An award-winning independent journalist, Douglas Wissing has spoken widely on the Afghanistan war, from Brian Lamb’s C-Span Q&A show to the Jerry Doyle Show. Wissing has contributed to a wide range of news media and journals, including The New York Times, Independent on Sunday (UK), Foreign Policy, Asia Times, Forbes Life, National Geographic Traveler,, as well as the BBC and NPR radio networks. Among his ten books, he is the author of Funding the Enemy: How US Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban (Prometheus Books) and Pioneer in Tibet: The Life and Perils of Dr. Albert Shelton (Palgrave/Macmillan).

Please RSVP by September 21 to or (812) 855-1325