American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan published in March 2019.

“A riveting journalistic account of Bowe Bergdahl’s disastrous–and weirdly poignant–choice to walk off his military base in Afghanistan. . . . A spectacularly good book about an incredibly painful and important topic.”—Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, Tribe, and War.

“An unsettling and riveting book filled with the mysteries of human nature.”—Kirkus

“Bowe Bergdahl’s story should be required reading for all Americans, illuminating as it does so many aspects of an ill-conceived conflict.”—Andrew Cockburn, author of Kill Chain 

“American Cipher sets the record straight on a tragic subject and will strongly appeal to a wide audience.”—Booklist, starred review

American Cipher is based on a combined 15 years reporting between myself and former U.S. Army infantryman Matt Farwell. We present the only definitive account of Bergdahl’s life, his decision to leave his combat post, and the five-year international ordeal that followed. Following his dramatic recovery through a controversial prisoner swap in May 2014, we were the only journalists who interviewed his parents. American Cipher is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller.

Prior to the Bergdahl case, I covered politics, environmental issues, and corduroy for outlets including Harper’s Magazine, NewsweekNewYorker.comThe Believer and The Daily BeastMy first reporting job was with the Idaho Mountain Express, where I received the kind of education and training only available thousands of miles from the northeast media bubble.

Today, I am back in the bubble in Brooklyn, where I tend a very small pepper patch and dream of Idaho winters. I love getting letters, and you can reach me at

Thanks for reading,

-- michael