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About the book
  • Published: 20 November 2013
  • ISBN: 9780143570585
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: $12.99

Ballots, Bullets & Kabulshit: An Afghan Election: Penguin Special




When Toby Ralph joined a UN team assisting preparations for Afghanistan's 2009 presidential election, he didn't quite know what he was getting into. In a country unaccustomed to fair and free processes, the resistance he encountered to the idea democracy ranged from corruption and ineptitude to violence.

When Toby Ralph joined a UN team assisting preparations for Afghanistan's 2009 presidential election, he didn't quite know what he was getting into. In a country unaccustomed to fair and free processes, the resistance he encountered to the idea democracy ranged from corruption and ineptitude to violence. Along the way, he found AK-47s stuffed into the couch at his lodgings, Taliban wearing tennis shoes, and press conferences that descended into farce. Rocket fire rattled the guesthouse walls. A candlelit diner required three rounds of security checks. Ralph's wryly humorous account of his experiences as electoral adviser in a war zone makes voting for the Australian Senate look like a cakewalk.

'Forthright and darkly humorous ... [Ralph] provides a bleakly intriguing, occasionally absurdist take on the latest in a long line of fraught attempts by outsiders to influence this war-torn country.' Canberra Times

'Written in a flowing, irreverent style that takes no prisoners.' Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin

  • Pub date: 20 November 2013
  • ISBN: 9780143570585
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: $12.99

About the Author

Toby Ralph

Toby Ralph, described as one of the 'most powerful spinners and advisers in Australia', has worked on over forty elections across three continents, including all of Australia's federal elections since John Howard became prime minister. He calls himself a marketing bloke and sometime propagandist. The Sydney Morning Herald said: 'Look behind big political and corporate events  – such as the four pillars banking debate in the late 1990s, the republican debate, corporate reviews, conflicts, takeovers, mergers and restructures in the media, construction, transport, superannuation, mining, export, gaming, and finance industries, environmental debates, many big listed company issues, and under-budget major infrastructure projects — and find his handiwork.'

Toby is a regular guest on Gruen Planet and Radio National, and has appeared on Insight and Q&A. He topped The Power Index's 'Five (relatively) unknown people running Australia', and was included in the inaugural BRW Power List as one of the fifty most influential people in Australian business.


Praise for Ballots, Bullets & Kabulshit: An Afghan Election: Penguin Special

“While there have been numerous recent accounts by Westerners in Afghanistan, few have been as forthright and darkly humorous ... [Ralph] provides a bleakly intriguing, occasionally absurdist take on the latest in a long line of fraught attempts by outsiders to influence this war-torn country.”

Canberra Times


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