Every dog may have its day, but after over 20 years reporting from countries people barely knew, and cared about even less, correspondent Ahmed Rashid must have thought his had passed him by. Jihad
, however, is the deeply impressive and instructive follow-up to his international bestseller Taliban
, and in time could well prove equally influential, as in turning his sights to the desolate steppes of Central Asia, Rashid describes a region that harbours the potential to explode just as disastrously as its southern neighbour. Boundaried by rivers, mountains and desert, with a tolerant and liberal Islamic tradition, Rashid traces the region's history over the past two millennia, which included conquest by Alexander, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, and most recently tsarist and Soviet Russia. It was Stalin who divided up the former Turkestan into the five new countries--Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Takjikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan--indifferent to geographic or ethnic lines. After perestroika and the break-up of the Soviet Union, however, as with post-colonial Africa, the countries' new leaders merely exploited the structures of authoritarian oppression, leading to pan-Islamic underground movements such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, led by Juma Namangani, and the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami.
Obviously, the events of September 11 have changed the gameplan significantly, and Rashid assesses their impact on the five countries, and the looming presence of Russia, China and the USA, all jostling for military and economic advantage behind a strategic alliance intent on defending the "territorial integrity" of administrations that were actually most to blame for the rise of militant Islam. A pivotal time, with further extremist guerrilla militancy inevitable, the oil on which Central Asia uncomfortably sits remains the future hope, potentially providing pipes of peace for troubled lands, enabling regional cooperation and economic restructuring. A work of clear and persuasive vision, rather than rehashing old pieces Ahmed Rashid's superbly balanced analysis brings in from the Cold War a deeply unfashionable yet critical region that more than ever remains central to world peace. --David Vincent
"For many years now, Ahmed Rashid has been the journalistic interpreter of the changing nature of Islam in Central Asia." -- Robert D. Kaplan, author of Warrior Politics
"Jihad is but the latest of Ahmed Rashid's insightful books on religion and politics in South and Central Asia." -- John L. Esposito, author of Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?
'Jihad hits the ground running...it draws, as Rashid's earlier book did, on fearless research plus 'moments of illumination'.' -- Michael Church, The Independent, 6 February 2002
'Rashid pulls the threads of history together in prosaic fashion.' -- Tom Walker, Sunday Times, 3 February 2002
'Rashid skilfully chronicles the development of Islamic militancy in Central Asia' -- Professor Efraim Karsh, The Sunday Telegraph, 10 February 2002
'This concise, lucid volume offers three books in one, and it is a tribute to Rashid's skills' -- Frank McLynn, The Glasgow Herald, 9 February 2002
'a book of enormous authority' -- Michael Binyon, The Times, 6 February 2002
'a valuable survey [which] deserves to be widely read' -- The Economist, 15 March 2002
'an important, authoritative and timely book.' -- Hazhir Teimourian, The Literary Review, March 2002
'another masterful commentary...Jihad combines the research of a skilled investigative journalist with an academic's clear-headed and weighty analysis.' -- Justin Marozzi, Financial Times, 2 February 2002
'the most influential journalist in the world.' -- Alex Spillius, The Daily Telegraph, 21 January 2002