1/23 Ian Fritz

Ian Fritz, who served as an Cryptologic Linguist in Afghanistan will be joined in conversation by Gaetan Sgro, professor of medicine at Pitt


At eighteen, Ian Fritz joined the Air Force out of necessity and was soon selected to become an Airborne Cryptologic Linguist in the war in Afghanistan. Over the course of two tours, Fritz listened to the Taliban for hundreds of hours, all over the country night and day, in moments of peace and in the middle of battle. What the Taliban Told Me is the powerful, timely memoir of his harrowing experiences coming of age in a war that is lost.

Fritz’s fluency in Dari and Pashto, the main languages of Afghanistan, is his greatest asset to the military, yet it becomes the greatest liability to his own commitment to the cause. His eavesdropping is critical to supporting Special Forces units on the ground, but there is no training to counter the emotional complexity that develops as you listen to people’s most intimate conversations. In What the Taliban Told Me, Fritz grapples with pride for his service and despair that he is instrumental in destroying the voices that he hears. Looking back on his service in the Air Force, Fritz shares what he learned about the people of Afghanistan, the war, and himself.

Ian Fritz was an Airborne Cryptologic Linguist in the United States Air Force from 2008-2013. He became a physician after completing his enlistment. Now, he writes.

Gaetan Sgro is an internal medicine doctor, girl dad, and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he co-directs a program in the medical humanities.

What the Taliban Told Me By Ian Fritz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668010693
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 7th, 2023

A powerful, timely memoir of a young Air Force linguist coming-of-age in a war that is lost.

When Ian Fritz joined the Air Force at eighteen, he did so out of necessity. He hadn’t been accepted into college thanks to an indifferent high school career.