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My Life With the Taliban Hardcover – 28 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd; 1st edition (28 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849040265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849040266
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 3 x 15 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 717,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'Spies, generals and ambassadors will pounce on this book, poring over its pages for clues to a way out of the Afghan morass.' --Sunday Telegraph

'The first book from inside the Taliban could not be better timed. Abdul Salam Zaeef was one of the founding members of the group and held senior positions within it, ending up as ambassador to Pakistan.' --Sunday Times

'A counternarrative to much of what has been written about Afghanistan since 1979. . . Zaeef offers a particularly interesting discussion of the Taliban's origins and the group's effectiveness in working with locals.' --Foreign Affairs

'The first book from inside the Taliban could not be better timed. Abdul Salam Zaeef was one of the founding members of the group and held senior positions within it, ending up as ambassador to Pakistan.' --Sunday Times

'A counternarrative to much of what has been written about Afghanistan since 1979. . . Zaeef offers a particularly interesting discussion of the Taliban's origins and the group's effectiveness in working with locals.' --Foreign Affairs

About the Author

Born in southern Afghanistan in 1968, Abdul Salam Zaeef played a role in many of the historical events of his lifetime, from his role as mujahed in the 1980s war against the Soviets, to administrative positions within the Taliban movement, to imprisonment in Guantanamo, to a role of public advocacy and criticism of the US-backed Karzai government following his release in 2005. He lives in Kabul. Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn are researchers and writers permanently based in Kandahar. They have worked in Afghanistan since 2006, focusing on the Taliban insurgency and the history of southern Afghanistan over the past four decades. Their research extends to other Muslim countries and they are regular commentators on major western news channels.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By O. Nemat on 6 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a women's rights activist in Afghanistan who ran underground classes for girls during the Taliban regime and turned the impossible to possible, I recommend you to read this book. It is not because we'd like what Mullah Zaeef has to say, it is because for everyone I think it is needed to understand the true insights and the visions of the Taliban. Although I personally think, he has self-censured himself on many critical issues, but perhaps this book is the first of its kinds to reveal part of the reality of a Taliban member. As a great philosopher said, I do not agree on what you are saying, but I support your right to say it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. S. J. McCann on 25 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading 'My Life With the Taliban'. Not being an expert or specialist on Afghanistan, I was at first unsure whether this book would suit my needs - i.e. to inform and interest and provide an alternative perspective from the endless commentary that the media provides. From the moment Zaeef starts taking us through his childhood experiences in the contexts of rural poverty, social decay and war - the whole setting for the situation we see today became a great deal clearer. Very readable - but far from being in the journalistic style of modern autobiography - 'My life with the Taliban' also reads like the important hisotical document that it undoubtedly is. With the Taliban an unwelcome, but ominously persistent presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I believe in taking the trouble to learn more about the roots and individual characters that helped create the Taliban of 2001 and the Taliban of today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. S. Hassan on 15 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a gripping tale written by an amateur writer. I believe this is what is gripping about it. It is untainted by the decorative and often misleading use of language. It's a narrative about how a poor village boy ended up being the embassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan, and consequently being kidnapped; in defiance to all human and international conventions, and detained in Guantanamo.

The book is a brilliant insight into the psyche of those who fought the Soviets, corruption, and consequently tried to defend their country (which has always been the target of major colonial countries and the playground of greedy neighbors); only to be portrayed as monstrous creatures rising from the middle ages by the biased media machinery; if this statement causes the reader any cognitive dissonance, you ought to read the story of Yvonne Ridley, the award-winning journalist, who had first-hand experience of the Taliban.

Reading the reviews for this book, it is certainly polarizing; to say the least. However, if you follow the author's story line with an open mind and try to rid yourself of any prejudice and pre-conceived ideas, you might find it a fascinating experience; if not a transformational one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DTK Molise on 5 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
As is obvious from the other reviews here (and the title) this is a book from a Taliban insider. A man who was present at the beginning of the movement and who held some serious positions within the government that was in power from 1996 to 2001. This really is a vital book full of very interesting insights into both Zaeef's life and the Taliban's agenda. Credit must go to the two editors, and their translators, as the book is both literate and very readable.

It is worth noting that this is a flawed account, but this does not have any effect on the importance of the book. Zaeef certainly leaves out many important issues that could do with more clarity and, at times, his narrative has the feel of a self-serving biography. However this book is what it is and nothing more. Let's hope that his next book, which is released this autumn, and focuses on the movement and its history in more detail will fill in the gaps.

This book is critical for those interested in starting to understand where the Taliban are coming from politically as well as highlighting much of the folly of the Western intervention in Afghanistan. A must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EnAhmad on 22 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover
When This book was published I put it on my reading list as a " must read " the reason was simple ,written by A Talib;Mr.Zaeef.However,when I finally read this book it didn't meet my expectation.
If you want to consider this book as a book from insider with inside information on how Taliban survived so long,or who,and how they were supported ,why they didn't allow women to study or work,why they destroyed the Statues of Bamyan,and How they recruit their soldier etc.,then this book will disappoint you as it does not address these or other key issues.
Rather As the Name suggests,it focuses on Mr.Zaeef's life and ideas Rather the Taliban
if you want to study it for few reasons like you want to know Taliban's side of story on very few topics then go for it.
Not recommended at all If You are Afghan,Like Me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By daz m on 31 Aug. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The book is informative although fails to address specific issues regarding the taliban regime. I would recommend the book as its informative and gives the view of afghanistan over a number of years. However, due to the large number of footnotes in the book it becomes very clunky to read as these footnotes are not already arranged that you can click on them and go automatically to the specific footnotes. instead you must save a bookmark at each location and go back and forward updating the bookmarks to make sure you arrived on the correct page. makes it a very annoying and cumbersome experience reading. if you are looking to buy the book, buy it in paperback format.would be 4/5 stars if the kindle ed was a better format.
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