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Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia Hardcover – 30 Aug 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris (30 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845117883
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845117887
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.5 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

Review

[A] valuable and informative work.Richard Bernstein, New York Times -- Richard Bernstein "New York Times"

"[A] valuable and informative work." -- Richard Bernstein "New York Times"

"[A] valuable and informative work."--Richard Bernstein, "New York"" Times" (on the first edition) --Richard Bernstein "New York Times "

"[Rashid is] Pakistan's best and bravest reporter."--Christopher Hitchens, "Vanity Fair"" "--Christopher Hitchens "Vanity Fair "

"Virtually the only informed work on the men who, since 1994, have ruled almost all of Afghanistan. . . . [An] indispensable book."--;i>Los Angeles Times Book Review "(on the first edition)
--Steve Wasserman "Los Angeles Times Book Review "

"The standard work in English on the Taliban."--;i>New York Review of Books "(on the first edition)

--Christopher de Bellaigue "New York Review of Books "

[A] valuable and informative work. Richard Bernstein, "New York"" Times" (on the first edition)--Richard Bernstein "New York Times ""

Virtually the only informed work on the men who, since 1994, have ruled almost all of Afghanistan. . . . [An] indispensable book. --;i>Los Angeles Times Book Review "(on the first edition)
--Steve Wasserman "Los Angeles Times Book Review ""

[Rashid is] Pakistan s best and bravest reporter. Christopher Hitchens, "Vanity Fair"" "--Christopher Hitchens "Vanity Fair ""

The standard work in English on the Taliban. --;i>New York Review of Books "(on the first edition)

--Christopher de Bellaigue "New York Review of Books "" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid's detailed history of the Taliban was first published in 2000. After the events of September 2001 stimulated new interest in this erstwhile obscure book, a second & longer print-run put it into the best-seller lists. Since 2001 there have been many insightful (and a few less insightful) books on the Taliban and Sunni Islamist Jihadism but Rashid's book, written in the 1990s, was the first.

Rashid updated the book in 2010 with an extra chapter examining the history of the Taliban's reorganization after the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, but the bulk of the book remains unchanged. 12 years on, it's still worth reading for its valuable original insights.

One of the book's strengths is its detailed account of Afghan history and (mostly failed) attempts to weld this disparate collection of warring clans into a nation-state, partially successful only under the Durrani monarchy. The various ethnic groups speak different languages, practice different forms of both Shia-ite and Sunni Islam and have different cultures, for example those in and around Herat are historically influenced by Persian culture, those in the north ethnically Turkmen, Uzbeks and Tajiks. Tribal loyalties and traditional justice have always trumped central authority from Kabul or Kandahar, the Taliban's power-base, and when the Pashtun-dominated Taliban finally took Kabul their rule was despised and resisted by the larger part of the population.

The book is divided into three major sections.

The first is a chronological history of the Taliban's emergence during the civil wars following the Soviets' withdrawal in 1989.
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Format: Paperback
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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