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Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan 2002-2007 [Paperback]

Antonio Giustozzi
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Oct 2007
Announcements of an impending victory over the Taliban have been repeated ad nauseam since the Allied invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, particularly after the Presidential elections of 2004, which were said to have marked the 'moral and psychological defeat of the Taliban'. In moments of triumphalism, some commentators claimed that 'reconstruction and development' had won over the population, despite much criticism of the meagre distribution of aid, the lack of 'nation-building' and corruption among Kabul's elite. In March 2006, both Afghan and American officials were still claiming, just before a series of particularly ferocious clashes, that 'the Taliban are no longer able to fight large battles'. Later that year, the mood in the mass media had turned to one of defeatism, even of impending catastrophe. In reality, as early as 2003-5 there was a growing body of evidence that cast doubt on the official interpretation of the conflict. Rather than there having been a '2006 surprise', Giustozzi argues that the Neo-Taliban insurgency had put down strong roots in Afghanistan as early as 2003, a phenomenon he investigates in this timely and thought-provoking book.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd; First Edition edition (26 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English, Danish
  • ISBN-10: 1850658730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850658733
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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`Not just a who's who of terrorism in Afghanistan since 2002. It's also a what's what,and a why's why.'
-- NATO Review, Spring 2008

'This detailed study chronicles the rise of what Giustozzi labels "the neo-Taliban". ' -- Foreign Affairs, Jan.-Feb. 2008

About the Author

Antonio Giustozzi has spent more than a decade visiting, researching and writing on Afghanistan. He is based at the Crisis States Research Centre at the LSE, where he focusses on the political aspects of insurgency and warlordism. His last book, War, Politics and Society in Afghanistan, 1978-92, was published by Hurst in 2000.

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Customer Reviews

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Free of stereotypes 25 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Giustozzi has written a very dry, factual book on the nature of the Taliban's return to Afghanistan after the Northern Alliance's victory. It is solid non-partisan reportage in which he looks at the Taliban's strengths, weakness, mistakes and successes. So often nowadays recent history is portrayed as a struggle between demons and angels, between the clever and the foolish; this book makes it clear both sides (and all the third parties) are learning as they are going. All of his analysis resonated with the views of the authors of the "fighting books" on topics like the Brits in Helmand.

The book is dry, it is more BBC4 than BBC1, and this will mean some readers will find it less entertaining but it is well worth, I think, understanding the three dimensional nature of the opposing party.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this, Mr Obama 18 Dec 2008
As already stated by previous reviewers, this book is a cold, dry, almost scientific dissection of the Afghan war. The conclusion I drew -the author leaving the question up in the air - was that the war is lost. The Taliban were a beaten force soon after the initial Western invasion, enjoying little popular support. Almost immediately the occupation forces began screwing things up, returning the old, hated warlords to power,and relying on age-old imperialist tactics of tribal divide and rule. Add this to lack of investment and brutal, indiscriminate responses to isolated Taliban actions, and the western forces rapidly lost support.

The book includes a very informative discussion of the Taliban model of insurgency, which the Western forces have struggled to define. A consequence of this has been that their military response has been chaotic and largely ineffective. In addition the Afghan national army is
weak and even its best units are unable to survive unless stiffened by
Western troops.

Soon after reading this book,the UN was reporting that the Taliban had
a significant presence in 80 percent of Afghan districts, and that Kabul
was only accessible via a single, heavily defended road. In addition,the
war is spreading deeper into Pakistan - thats nuclear armed Pakistan - with US missile attacks and insurgent targeting of haulage firms supplying NATO forces. The decidedly off-message head of the Afghan army has said that 550,000 Western troops will be needed to win the conflict. The Soviet Union only managed 100,000, and one thing they weren't short of was soldiers.

The last thing this region needs is an escalation of the conflict. Somebody needs to send Barak Obama a copy of this book and tell him to think again on Afghanistan before it is too late.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, a must read book 16 Nov 2007
Despite Antonio Giustozzi doesn't enjoy yet the worldwide reputation he certainly deserves, his detailed analisys about the insurgency under way in Afghanistan is an invaluable asset to recommend to everybody interested in understanding dynamics at play in that unlucky Central Asian Country: academics as well as military or diplomats. Many maps add this book further value. In my opinion, a must be read! Germano Dottori
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4.0 out of 5 stars Koran, Kalashnikov and laptop 20 May 2010
This is a detailed work which is a must for anyone studying or interested in counter insurgency. It is easy to read and full of historical facts which explain the who, where, why and when. Recommended.
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