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Soldiers of God (Vintage Departures) Paperback – 27 Nov 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Departures Ed edition (27 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030250
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030255
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 932,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Robert Kaplan [is] a scholarly and adventurous journalist. . . . He draws attention to long-term trends that other writers have little noted." --"The New York Times"
"Soldiers of God is a thoughtful, insightful, highly readable book. Battlefield smart, rock solid." --Dan Rather
"Affecting and informative. . . . [Kaplan] answer[s] a number of important political questions." --"The New Yorker"
"[A] first-rate account. . . . [Kaplan's] combination of firsthand war experience inside Afghanistan and extensive reporting . . . makes him sensitive to distinctions that often escaped even devoted promoters of the muj[ahidin]." --"The Wall Street Journal"

Robert Kaplan [is] a scholarly and adventurous journalist. . . . He draws attention to long-term trends that other writers have little noted. "The New York Times"
Soldiers of God is a thoughtful, insightful, highly readable book. Battlefield smart, rock solid. Dan Rather
Affecting and informative. . . . [Kaplan] answer[s] a number of important political questions. "The New Yorker"
[A] first-rate account. . . . [Kaplan s] combination of firsthand war experience inside Afghanistan and extensive reporting . . . makes him sensitive to distinctions that often escaped even devoted promoters of the muj[ahidin]. "The Wall Street Journal""

From the Inside Flap

First time in paperback, with a new Introduction and final chapter
World affairs expert and intrepid travel journalist Robert D. Kaplan braved the dangers of war-ravaged Afghanistan in the 1980s, living among the mujahidin--the "soldiers of god"--whose unwavering devotion to Islam fueled their mission to oust the formidable Soviet invaders. In Soldiers of God we follow Kaplan's extraordinary journey and learn how the thwarted Soviet invasion gave rise to the ruthless Taliban and the defining international conflagration of the twenty-first century.
Kaplan returns a decade later and brings to life a lawless frontier. What he reveals is astonishing: teeming refugee camps on the deeply contentious Pakistan-Afghanistan border; a war front that combines primitive fighters with the most technologically advanced weapons known to man; rigorous Islamic indoctrination academies; a land of minefields plagued by drought, fierce tribalism, insurmountable ethnic and religious divisions, an abysmal literacy rate, and legions of war orphans who seek stability in military brotherhood. Traveling alongside Islamic guerrilla fighters, sharing their food, observing their piety in the face of deprivation, and witnessing their determination, Kaplan offers a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of a people and a country that are at the center of world events.

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By A Customer on 8 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a superb book, thought provoking, factual, and easy to read. The story of Afghanistan has always seemed remote, despite Sept. 11, but this book brings home the sheer scale of the human tragedy, and the sheer humanity of the Afghan people. Read, think, enjoy.
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Format: Paperback
Soldiers of Allah not God
The title is Soldiers of God, but they are in fact warriors of Allah, and Allah is not God.
In Arabic, the Qur'an and Sharia, Almighty God is Ilah and Allah is ‘the god’ in English.
God is always Ar Rahman, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful, the Most Gracious.
Allah is always and only called Allah in Arabic.
Qur’an 6:3 And He is Allah in the heavens and on the earth.
Ibn Abbas: He is the One who is called Allah in the heavens and on the earth.
The Qur'an states that the religion of Allah abrogates the religion of Abraham.
The Shahada, the Muslim pledge of faith, denies God:
La ilaha ill-Allah, there is no God/god but Allah.
The sentence comprises a denial and an affirmation.
Negation: 'La ilah' negates all forms of God or god.
Affirmation: 'illAllah' affirms that there is only Allah.
Before you can say ‘I believe in Allah’(illa Allah) you have to reject or disbelieve in any other god or God (La illaha).
Question 179 Islam Q&A www.islam-qa.com
Questions 114, 6703, 11819, 20239, 20815
ur’an 41:84 It is He Who is the only God in the heaven and the only God on the earth.
Ibn Kathir: This means He is the God of those who are in the heaven and the God of those on earth.
Qur’an 43:84 It is He Who is Ilah, God in the heaven and on the earth.
Qur’an 19:65 Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, so worship Him and abide patiently in His worship. Do you know of any other with His Name?
Ibn Kathir: Ibn Abbas says, ‘There is no one named Ar-Rahman (the Most Beneficent) other than Him, Blessed and Exalted is He. Most Holy is His Name.’
See Quran chapters 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 36, 37, 41, 43, 67, etc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 42 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and Spirited 10 Aug. 2014
By wes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The text was a pleasure to read, introducing a perspective to an account that I am very unfamiliar with, and have since been inspired to pursue further.

Mr. Kaplan writes in an easily-readable format very appropriate for a journalist and correspondent. Many of the lines and information provided are delivered in a punchy manner that appropriately shocks and incenses when desired. I was able to casually read the book but not necessarily put it down, enjoying digesting the text. Not a criticism but more a personal frustration, I found myself infinitely eager to discover more texts such as this one, possibly viewing the same persons that Kaplan interviewed and traveled with at greater depth and in different perspectives.

I purchased this book based on the Marine Commandants reading list in addition to a slew of others off Amazon, and thus far every book has been thought-provoking and captivating.
5.0 out of 5 stars Travels with Afghani Islamic Rebels- excellent read! 30 Aug. 2012
By Stephanie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Kaplan is a unique travel writer and journalist, voyaging to rough and godforsaken places most people know vaguely or not at all to get the stories many journalists miss. His writing is not "mere" journalism but contains history, politics and ethnography, in a neat synthesis. Mr.Kaplan's deep reading, sharp eye, and willingness to travel to remote (and sometimes hellish) locales makes for engaging and enjoying travelogues, such as this one, "Soldiers of God," his firsthand account of the Afghani resistance during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

During the 1980s Mr.Kaplan spent much time in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan with the mujahedeen, the Afghani Islamic guerrilla rebels who gave the Soviets such a hell of a fight. This book includes the background for the war, modern Afghani history, Afghani history during British imperial times, and even some legends. Also included is extended analysis of the main ethnic group in the resistance, the "Pathans" or "Pashtoons." They are a fierce and fearsome bunch, relentless, tribalist, entirely male-centric, whose members went on to form the Taliban. Mr.Kaplan spends much time with them and gets to know them fairly well.

The history and ethnography was new to me and interesting but my favorite parts of the book were the author's visits inside occupied Afghanistan with the mujahedeen. The sense of danger is palpable, from the ever present fear of land mines, Soviet gunships and tanks, to extreme hunger, heat and cold, and sickness. Mr.Kaplan is both brave and reckless, but determined to get this story out to the world (in his opinion this conflict was mostly ignored by the global media). Besides the accounts of these excursions what most grabbed my attention were his interviews with and descriptions of the guerrilla leaders and fighters. Kaplan is a skilled interviewer and human observer, and as a reader I really got a sense of who these fighting men were (the author encounters almost no woman in the resistance). The young and fiercely independent Abdul Haq, 29, so full of fury and determination, is a figure who will stay with me for a while to come.

This a great book, multifaceted: travel narrative, journalism piece, political analysis, history, ethnography. Read this book to learn about a harrowing and brutal conflict, to know about a people and a place that is of no small importance to the world. Without this war it is unlikely that a group like the Taliban would have come to exist. A powerful and engaging read, highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Understood Part of the World 2 Jan. 2013
By Ross Nelligan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In terms of lives lost and people seeking refuge, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and resulting conflict with the mujahadeen is one of the biggest wars of recent times, but also one of the least understood. Robert Kaplan was a journalist covering the conflict, based mainly in Peshawar, but often sneaking across the border into Afghanistan under the guidance of mujahadeen fighters. Kaplan knew personally many of the mujahadeen commanders and he is candid in his portrayal of his interviews in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

More importantly, 'Soldiers of God' is a great insight into the tribal culture and mentality of the rugged mountain people. When you learn of their endurance and persistence in the face of massive obstacles, it seems little wonder that the behemoth US war machine is having so much trouble subduing the Taliban. The resourcefulness and mental fortitude of the Afghan people is amazing.

If only all journalists could report with such competence and objectivity.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan: The Superpower Trap created with perfect 20-20 Hindsight 3 May 2009
By Herbert L Calhoun - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was one of the first of intrepid reporter, Robert Kaplan's, many timely and insightful Atlantic Monthly articles turned into a book. Kaplan has "made his bones" (and a stellar reputation) going where the action is. And then, even while measuring the temperature on the ground, never failing to raise his head above the trees to see where the forest leads. This ability to place the events on the ground into geostrategic context has made Kaplan a valuable resource to those of us who like to know how we get our superpower tail caught in so many costly and draining strategic traps.

Here, although we are forced to admit that some aspects of geopolitics are inevitable and almost always unforgiving and irreversible, this story is still about as unflattering as a strategic incursion can get: Severely burnt by the dumb anti-Communist domino geopolitics of Vietnam, the U.S., nevertheless could not wait to repeat the act in the most unforgiving and godforsaken land since Alexander the Great was defeated there in the 4th Century BC.

Thus there is a kind of poetic symmetry that after Vietnam, our next foreign policy folly would be Afghanistan. That it is an unforgiving trap that all the history we know of (and have actually experienced ourselves) tells us it is, with perfect 20-20 hindsight, we nevertheless willingly walked into the same trap. [The Russians must be laughing under their collectivist breaths.]

Because of our colossal ignorance of the lands and peoples we pretend to be assisting while actually in pursuit of our own geopolitical goals, we had no choice but to enlist and rely on the Pakistan intelligence service (CIS) as a proxy in our global plan to eject the Soviets from Afghanistan. This barely transparent plan apparently worked to perfection, except that none of the "after conflict loose ends" were tied up. It seems that it is a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy that loose ends are never tied up. The conflicts are just allowed to peter out, with the hope that the details will somehow work them selves out in the end. [Remember the last scene in "Charlie Wilson's War?]

As usual, the Pakistani CIS exacted a price for serving as our geopolitical proxy. The price was that they be allowed to hijack our strategic success for their own internal purposes. As a result, in the aftermath of the victory over Russia, the CIS had us back the wrong Afghan tribal horse. When the dust settled, the internecine virus called Afghanistan warlords, had metastasized into Osama bin Laden, who immediately turned on his erstwhile superpower arms supplier and backer.

Nine-eleven sealed the deal and enshrined this folly for perpetuity. Now, we cannot get out, no matter how much its costs in U.S. blood and treasure. There is nothing left to do but to allow it to run its costly and indeterminate course. The loose ends can never be tied up. Obama is not in the driver's seat; the tribal warlords are: as they have always been. We are just a hapless superpower again being dragged around by our tail by a ragtag bunch of "Soldiers of God." God help us. Five Stars
5.0 out of 5 stars Critical Insights 10 Dec. 2014
By D. B. Hopkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent. Kaplan has hit another one out of the park. It behooves every thinking person to know who the "Soldiers of God" are and what drives them. Kaplan does this up close and personal with his travels in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I have been in Quetta and met a lot of the same folks, but didn't really have it in context at the time. Kaplan has elucidated the context and the people. You may not like all you read here, but you will be much better informed. The "war" in Afghanistan-Pakistan is not over, it's just entering a new stage and these guys are key players.
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