A thrilling and emotional story about the bonds forged in war and intentions gone wrong.

In the early days of the Afghanistan war, Jeff Stern was a young reporter, living abroad and looking to make his name by sending dispatches from Kabul. He rode with a driver named Aimal, who had ambitions of his own: to make money by doing favors for Americans and others who came to his country in those violent and auspicious years.

In The Mercenary, Stern tells the story of his relationship to Aimal, and how it grew and changed as their fortunes did. Stern made enough of a career as a writer to move back to America. Aimal became glamorous and wealthy, his money coming from unseen sources. The two remained friends, forged together by war. Until one day Stern got a call that changed everything. He discovered that Aimal had become an arms dealer, and was ultimately forced to flee the country to protect his family.

Their friendship is a story of how ambitions co-opted good intentions, how plans went wrong, and how money and misunderstandings and violence seeped into everything–in short, a mirror image of everything that happened in the war. As we begin the slow process of understanding this decades-long failure, The Mercenary goes beyond the deaths and the political drama to say something harder to quantify: how wars can warp our humanity and derail our best-laid plans.

What's Inside

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