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.