Academic journal article Military Review

Proceed to Peshawar: The Story of a U.S. Navy Intelligence Mission on the Afghan Border, 1943

Academic journal article Military Review

Proceed to Peshawar: The Story of a U.S. Navy Intelligence Mission on the Afghan Border, 1943

Article excerpt

PROCEED TO PESHAWAR: The Story of a U.S. Navy Intelligence Mission on the Afghan Border, 1943

George J. Hill, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2013, 288 pages

Lt. Albert Zimmermann, U.S. Navy Reserve, was a young naval intelligence officer in 1943. By chance, he became a central figure in a moderately exotic, though not particularly consequential, one-month mission to report on conditions along the border between Afghanistan and that part of British India that would become the state of Pakistan. Traveling by jeep with two other officers, one British and one American, Zimmermann observed life and conditions in one of the world's most remote and, for Americans at the time, least known regions. That the mission is the subject of a book owes much to two factors: first, the notes Zimmermann thoughtfully compiled during his trek, and second, that they inspired his son-in-law, George Hill, to assemble a complete account.

Beyond its easy readability, the book is interesting in several ways. The story unfolds a bit like a travelogue, interspersed with allusions to context and background profiles of various individuals who figured in the expedition. Hill allows Zimmermann's impressions to carry the story as he guides the reader through the protagonist's career path leading to his journey across an alien region. The result may not be entirely satisfying as history but captures rather well the sense of discovery that attended the mission.

Intellectually armed with little more than an extensive knowledge of Rudyard Kipling's novels and a ten-week intelligence training course, Zimmermann was selected for assignment as a naval liaison officer to Karachi. …

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