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Taliban: The Power of Militant Islam in Afghanistan and Beyond [Paperback]

Ahmed Rashid
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 April 2010
The American bombing of terrorist bases in Afghanistan under the protection of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban movement has brought the Taliban into sharp focus as the most radical and extreme Islamic movement in the world today. Little is known about the Taliban because of the deep secrecy that surrounds their political movement, their leaders and their aims. The geo-strategic implications of the Taliban are already creating severe instability in Russia, Iran and the five Central Asian republics where the Taliban have become a major player in the new Great Game, as Western countries and companies compete to build oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to Western and Asian markets. The Taliban's implementation of their extreme interpretation of Islam poses new challenges to the Muslim world and the West's understanding of radical Islam in the post-Cold War era. 'Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game' was runner-up in the prestigious annual British-Kuwait Friendship Society Prize, administered by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. 'This is an impressive and eminently readable analysis of the Taliban movement, of its background and impact on Afghanistan, and of the wider regional and geopolitical implications of the Taliban's advent to power. The author himself is especially well placed to provide this account, having covered Afghanistan itself for two decades and having direct access to policy-makers in Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia. This is not the first book to be written on the Taliban, or Afghanistan in the 1990s. It promises, however, to be by far the strongest. It would be hard to see how anyone could rival the range and details of this account: this bids well to be the leading book on the subject.' - Professor Fred Halliday, London School of Economics; 'Ahmed Rashid's book describes the stuff that Bond [films] are made of. Warring tribes, clashing empires, fanatics with dreams of world domination, violence and sex... If anyone understands the place Rashid does.' - The Observer; 'The book they are all reading.' - The Guardian

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Taliban: The Power of Militant Islam in Afghanistan and Beyond + Descent into Chaos: The world's most unstable region and the threat to global security + Pakistan on the Brink: The future of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West
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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: I B Tauris & Co Ltd (30 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848854463
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848854468
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

Ahmed Rashid's Taliban: The story of the Afghan Warlords is the single best book available on the subject of the regime in Afghanistan responsible for harbouring the terrorist Osama bin Laden. Rashid is a Pakistani journalist who has spent most of his career reporting on the region--he has personally met and interviewed many of the Taliban's shadowy leaders. Taliban was written and published before the massacres of September 11, 2001, yet it is essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand the aftermath of that black day. It includes details on how and why the Taliban came to power, the government's oppression of ordinary citizens (especially women), the heroin trade, oil intrigue, and--in a vitally relevant chapter--bin Laden's sinister rise to power. These pages contain stories of mass slaughter, beheadings and the Taliban's crushing war against freedom: Under Mullah Omar, it has banned everything from kite flying to singing and dancing at weddings. Rashid is for the most part an objective reporter, though his rage sometimes (and understandably) comes to the surface: "The Taliban were right, their interpretation of Islam was right, and everything else was wrong and an expression of human weakness and a lack of piety", he notes with sarcasm. He has produced a compelling portrait of modern evil. --John Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'[An] excellent study which... has now sold more than 750,000 copies in [22] languages.' --Financial Times

'It took our political classes an unconscionable time to wake up to the importance of Ahmed Rashid's definitive study of the Taliban. The book has been a phenomenal success.' --The Independent

'Read this remarkable book and the bewildering complexity of Afghan politics and the deadly over-spill of chaos, narcotics and sectarian violence into the surrounding region will become clear.' --Sunday Times

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Absolutely excellent book - and could hardly be more timely, nor more essential as background reading on the most important events many of us have lived through.
I knew not a lot about the Taliban and the complexities of the Afghan power struggle before I read this.. Rashid's explanation of every faction has lifted several veils from my eyes.
I was particularly interested by his discussion of the roles played by the colonial super-powers in trying to get or prevent the oil pipelines crossing Central Asia. The graveyard of the Soviet push to remain a super-power of course, Afghanistan has dealt harshly with every force that has tried to monster it. The great game is still being played out from the Khyber Pass to the Hindu Kush and Rashid's book is an essential reference for the (very) concerned spectator. High marks from this reviewer.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is good not just for its description of the origins of the Taliban, but also for Afghanistan's recent history and the role the superpowers played. Probably the best starting point if you want answers to the question: "What is going on in Afghanistan today?"
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Decades in preparation, this book presents the current Afghanistan tragedy in historical perspective and with personaL experience detailed in superb style and clarity. I am left wondering how, in a media-dominated global village, I could have remained so ignorant for so long. Essential reading for the post-Sept 11th age.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant piece of work !! 8 Aug 2001
By A Customer
A truly informative book. Ahmad Rashid has managed to cover every aspect of the Afghan crises, and in his analysis managed to bring up the view point of every single party to the conflict but still managed to stay amazingly unbiased. Both between the various countries involved in the crises since the Soviet invasion and between different Mujahideen groups fighting for control over Afghanistan since the end of the war.
Before reading this book I thought I knew a fair bit about the Afghan issue. I always did consider the issue as one of the main forces to determine the future of the whole of Asia, but this book has given me an insight into realities and possibilities I had no idea of.
It shows how much time and effort the author has put into the region, and how he has a deep love and affection for the ordinary people of the land. As he has a wide understanding and awareness of the whole Afghan problem and all the relating and influencing issues from the strong history of the land to the currant political, strategic and economic motives of the neighbouring and regional countries plus America. I only wish the book was slightly more up to date as I would like to know what effect, if any, the change of govt (the military take over) has had on the Pakistani approach to the issue. Plus the effect of the Sanctions applied on the Taliban (but not the opposition alliance). But I'm sure these topics would be covered in Ahmad Rashid's new book: Taliban : Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia , which came out after I had started reading this one, so I guess I'll be getting that too.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book covers the taliban issue from three angles: 1 - the origins of the taliban which is about the end of the soviet afghan war, the CIA and pakistani ISI backing the mujahideen, and the initial pakistani ISI backing of the Taliban. 2 - The taliban's understanding of Islam, this part covers the connections with the Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan and the Wahabi/salafi movement in Saudi Arabia. 3 - finally it covers the Colonialists(US and Russia) game for control over the region so that perhaps a pipeline for oil can be built to transport oil from the central asian republics to Pakistan, Turkey or Iran. In this part it gives detailed analysis on the interests and activities of Taliban and the Foreign governments e.g. How Unocal lobbied the US government to recognise Taliban and how Russia funded the opposition factions so that fighting would continue and the interested oil companies would leave. Ahmed Rashid's book has produced a detailed picture of the reality that unfortunately spells out the extent of the devastation in the region which has resulted from the failure of the Taliban, Pakistan and others. Furthermore he exposes the Taliban's tribal nature which contradicts Islam and their political naivety which has landed them in the quagmire that is present day Afghanistan. However, I don't agree with the current thought that only the US can solve afghanistan's problem. Rather this for the muslims to resolve, after all the US has spectacularly messed up in this region already due to her ever changing interests. If the muslims adopt the correct thought and method from Islam without getting muddled in tribal or other issues it very possible for them to resolve this and other issues that they face today.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and Profound 15 July 2009
Mr Rashid brings an incredibly detailed and excellent account of the Taliban and the backgrounds of its emerging in Afghanistan. Through his experience as a reporter in the country make his narrative one of high detail and justly draws upon the influences that made the Taliban the force it became.
It is to be highly recommended to be read by the wider public for its relevance in today's and tomorrow's politics.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The boo begins with the author telling you how good the book is and how good he is. After that it's all down hill. Didn't learn anything/ enjoy it/remember much
Published 1 month ago by paj
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history book
If you want to understand the history behind the Taliban then this book is for you.
It takes you back to the warring tribal factions through the Russian invasion and the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lt Col Val
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to the Taliban
I am working in Afghanistan and wanted to read up on some of the recent history which has shaped the country. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Druim
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on Taliban...Used By US Forces To Know About Taliban...
As an Afghan I fount the book extremely informative and correct.The Author invokes his deep knowledge of the region and People... Read more
Published 3 months ago by EnAhmad
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This gives a excellent footing in understanding how the movement came about and has evolved.

Although I can see why he has not altered the historical aspects it does... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Finjen
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid background
A truly excellent & detailed outline of how the Taliban came into existence and the forces which continued to support it up to 2009 with background on how major powers continue to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Scouseman
5.0 out of 5 stars Taliban
A great book to understand Afghan culture and the psyche of Taliban, their aims and other strategic aspirations. Read more
Published 8 months ago by E. Butt
1.0 out of 5 stars All over the place.
This book has loads of information but lacks structure and therefore the information gets lost in a bunch of acronyms, names and dates. Read more
Published 10 months ago by D Griffiths
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
This seems a well balanced account of the background to Afganistans many problems, written by a person with a detailed knowledge of all the internal and external issues. Read more
Published 14 months ago by N. Ritchie
5.0 out of 5 stars Taliban
Fantastic opening of facts making you think about your own ignorance of the real world and the events that go on behind us and the sad loss of life created by those not directly... Read more
Published 15 months ago by stewart
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