I have read this book both before and after Sept. 11... It is well written and moves along at a good clip, but it really does not seem to present a true or valid picture of the Mujahadeen or the situation in Afghanistan, even at the time it was written.
Assuming Palmer actually was in Afghanistan and actually met some of the people he talks about, all the book can be viewed as is a well meaning fairy tail about the brave and chivalrous fighters against the Soviets. One doubts that any of the incidents in the book really took place, or if they did, that they were described acurately.
Reading other books about the war in Afghanistan makes it pretty clear that the anti-soviet fighters were formidable, but hardly chivalrous or even civilized in any sense that we in the west would understand.
If read as a Sufi allegory, it is quite valuable and illuminating, hence the 5 stars. But anyone wanting a true view of the fighting in Afghanistan would be better served with any of a number of books written by authors such as Larry P. Goodson, Jason Elliot, Eric Newby, Artem Borovik or a host of others.