Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Taliban” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Ahmed Rashid
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,337 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
Shrouding themselves and their aims in deepest secrecy, the leaders of the Taliban movement control Afghan-istan with an inflexible, crushing fundamentalism. The most extreme and radical of all Islamic organizations, the Taliban inspires fascination, controversy, and especially fear in both the Muslim world and the West. Correspondent Ahmed Rashid brings the shadowy world ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published February 12th 2010 by Yale University Press (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Taliban, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Taliban

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Will Byrnes
I was prompted to read this by Rashid’s later work ,Descent Into Chaos. Where did the Taliban actually form, when, why. How did the Taliban grow to be the force it would become? There is much information here that helps make sense of what seems senseless. In a nation ruled by a bloody coterie of warlords constantly demanding payment from a much oppressed populace, constantly engaging in battles with each other, constantly undermining any possibility of rule of law, when a group emerges that appe ...more
Ho sentito parlare di Ahmed Rashid per la prima volta da Daniele Mastrogiacomo, in occasione della presentazione del libro di Daniele 'I giorni della paura': ne parlava come di un grande conoscitore del mistero talebano, un must per chiunque volesse saperne di più su questo argomento.

Rashid appartiene a un'ottima scuola di giornalismo, la migliore, secondo me l'unica: quella che si fa sul campo, andando, camminando, incontrando, parlando, intervista
Sep 20, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Announcer Brett: “Folks, we go our reporter in the field, R.V. Winkle, now for some breaking news. What have you got for us Rip?”

Reporter R.V. Winkle: “Brett, I have just finished this outstanding book, “Taliban”, and we need to do something about these guys, they are bad people!”

Announcer Brett: “Rip, you are a decade late, go back to sleep you idiot”

Ok, I have no excuse for not reading this book until more than 10 years after
Aug 13, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by: those with hearts cold, bleeding, or otherwise
The Taliban are an armed bunch of louts who see the world as a figurative sheep waiting to be fucked by the awesome power of their backwoods version of Islam. Their favorite point of entry has been in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, and they took particular delight in shafting Kabul, treating it as just a larger version of the shithole village they probably grew up in, making all the men grow bears and forcing all the women from the streets. Never mind these clowns have no idea how to run a civ ...more
Feb 24, 2012 Jerome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You’ve read Taliban, the dense, influential book by superstar reporter and author Ahmed Rashid, right? Of course you have, everybody has. And everybody seems to have it on their bookshelf, displayed prominently as proof of their interest and expertise in Afghanistan.
In March 2009, the European Journal of Communication asked citizens of Britain, Denmark, Finland, and the U.S. to answer questions on international affairs. The Europeans clobbered America. Sixty-eight percent of Danes, 75 percent o
Nov 25, 2008 Naeem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember buying 5 copies of this book in October of 2001, devouring it in a day, and copying two chapters and passing them out to anyone that would stop by my office.

It is still the definitive account of the rise and demise of the Taliban. (Although Michael Griffen's Reaping the whirlwind: The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan tells the same story in more poetic form.

This book made Rashid a player in policy circles and in world class journalism. You can catch him twice a year on Terry Gross'
Apr 09, 2009 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I read in this book made me ashamed to be a member of the human race.

For thirty years the people of Afghanistan have suffered mass death, destruction of their lands and homes, privation, dislocation, and exploitation by foreign powers. From my comfortable life in New Jersey I wonder how people can maintain a civilization after so much damage has been done.

In "Taliban," Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid details the political history of the mysterious group of Islamic theology students educat
Jun 14, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The books covers the origins and rise of the Taliban from a journalist who was there and lived it.

Another excellent book on Afghanistan. It further highlights how all the nations in the region jockeyed to create an Afghanistan government/leadership that would be friendly to them. Then use this government to secure deals for resources and be a friendly ally for future conflicts. No one cared how the Taliban really treated its citizens or that they developed camps to train foreign f
Dec 15, 2010 Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book published in March of 2001 (with a 2010 aftwerward). Rashid could read the writing on the wall, even if it seems like he was the only one paying attention. Filled with details even the Old Man didn't know- particularly concerning the pipeline competition going on pre-9/11. Fascinating look at a country no one really has a handle on, but this author might have the best handle- he's been imprisoned by several Afghan regimes in his time. He whines a bit about how the US failed to sav ...more
Olga Milemis
Feb 12, 2015 Olga Milemis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Taliban” (2000, though my edition was an updated one from 2010) delivers a very clearly structured history of the conflict in Afghanistan and the origin and development of the Taliban who could grow from a regional power and end controlling the country.

As a native from Pakistan and well trusted with political and social situations around the Hindukush, Ahmed Rashid comes closer to the Taliban than other journalists do and offers a very deep enlightenment of their development. In this book, Ras
As good a portrait of the Taliban as you can find anywhere, written by a journalist with an unprecedented amount of access to a very secretive organization.

The book is split into three parts. The first part covers the Taliban's rise to power from 1994-2001. The second part covers different aspects of the Taliban's organization and ideology, with one chapter offering a scathing indictment of the Taliban's attempt to essentially imprison women in their homes and bar them completely from the publ
Oct 16, 2010 Donald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Everybody who uses oil or heroin should read this book.

It is certainly written by a journalist as it reads like an article-albeit a long article-on the players in the Taliban circa 1999 and before. Ahmed goes into exhaustive detail on background, history, geography and psychology of the people and region. The amount of information seemed perfect for the narrative that follows.

The Taliban are strict adherents to Sharia law, which seems to value behavior, even over human life. They come off as unr
This book was incredibly well-researched and very, very informative on how the Taliban won (and lost) battles in Afghanistan's civil war, as well as issues that arose up until 2000. What I found lacking was the formation of the Taliban -- I wish there had been a little more time spent on those early years with the same level of detail as given to the later years. The book also suffers for me in comparisons to Ghost Wars and The Looming Tower, which I was not able to put down. All of that said, I ...more
Chris Morrow
Sep 26, 2011 Chris Morrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The information about the existing (in 2011) conflict in Afghanistan, the relationship the country has with its' neighbors and the place that has in the world stage is interesting! Sadly, not much has changed in the 10 years since the book was published (not much good at least).

Understanding the history of the people, the governments and the conflicts present in the region provides some excellent pointers to why and how the US has continued to screw up it's foreign policy in this region. Neglect
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Rashid coined the term 'the new great game' for the power play in Central Asia.

Published shortly after 9/11, and though meticulously researched in extensive detail, it also is fairly clear the publication was rushed, with a few sloppy mistakes here and there.
For example, though the book acknowledges he killing of Masud a few days before 9/11, the book's conclusion talks about him as if he's still alive.

The author crisply allows a picture to emerge of a highly fractioned, highly opportunistic, c
Mar 01, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one the most difficult review I've ever tried to write, not because the book itself is vague or inaccessible–on the contrary, its writing is clean, precise and all too understandable. It's just that the subject matter rips across raw nerves. Nevertheless, I wish to draw attention to the book as timely, informative and an evenhanded treatment of the Taliban and the new “great game” of oil and politics in Central Asia.

The text is divided into three main parts, the first dealing with the
Ed Callahan
One of the difficulties in historical writing is determining how "up to date" a particular source may be. The majority of Rashid's book is an in depth, but pre-9/11, analysis of the Taliban and the twisted, and rather sordid, games of international politics, geostrategy, hegemony, and oil which make this region of the world a veritable Gordion knot. His decision to supplement the first edition of this work with a chapter on the post-9/11 events enables the reader to get a sense of the "state of ...more
Colleen Clark
Published in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, Rashid's book is still absolutely relevant to current events in Afghanistan in Central and South Asia. Indeed, "Taliban" was one of three books he wrote about what he calls "the region" before Sept. 11. In 2008 he published another book entitled "Descent Into Chaos." Next on my reading list.

The narrative in "Taliban" begins in 1994 - Part I: History of the Taliban Movement. Chapter 1 "Kandahar 1994: The Origins of the Talib
Feb 14, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the definitive books on the Taliban and their rise to power, by the foremost Pakistan journalist, Ahmed Rashid, It is unfortunate that this book was not read or known about by anyone before 9/11. Heavy reading, not to be read in one sitting, as it is loaded with detail and very specific information about the region of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1980-late 1990s.
Matt Fitz
Feb 06, 2014 Matt Fitz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm admittedly reading this book a decade later than I should have. But reading it while in Afghanistan made it timely as well. Great insight into the Taliban: who they are, what they are about, and what it means to Afghanistan and the world. It's hard to fathom a country of people who have literally known nothing but war from the Soviet Invasion of the 80s, to the Taliban in the 90s, to Operation Enduring Freedom in the 00's and beyond.

The book is divided nicely into three sections: (1) their
Shireen Khan
Sep 17, 2012 Shireen Khan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a must-read when I moved to Afghanistan. Mr. Rashid is a fine journalist and gave a good picture of what Afghanistan had been through. I had a chance to meet Mr. Rashid by chance at a conference in Europe and was surprised by his geniality. I think I was expecting a more hardened figure, given his difficult and courageous work.
I gave this book 5 stars despite the fact that I listened to it as an audiobook and found much of it to follow, between names of places, people, tribes, factions, historical events, etc. But from what I could tell, it was extremely well researched by a knowledgeable journalist.

Here are a few things I took away from it. The Taliban arose out of the horrors of war and fighting. The U.S. has flip-flopped many times in its policies toward Afghanistan, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, and other regions
Feb 05, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who wants to understand Afghanistan, the Taliban, and how we got where we are today, there could hardly be a better place to start than Rashid's book. Even informed readers will find their understanding of history greatly enriched, and will see some long-accepted conventional wisdom (mostly about how the Taliban came to be and where they got their power) strongly and convincingly challenged. Rashid has the gift of a great historian, in that he combines accurate reporting with a gift f ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Çağatay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By far the single best book about the Taliban. The author is a Pakistani journalist who has spent years reporting from the region, so the book is written by a local who has actually been there, seen all the actions which has been carried out by the Taliban. Not only the Taliban's rise to power but also the support they get from other countries due to energy projects in this process.

Apart from trying to prove that the Taliban is one oppressing power in Afghanistan (which is quite obvious), Ahmed
Matt Nichols
Mar 16, 2014 Matt Nichols rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-library
It was indispensable when it first came out, but now it should be read and paired one of Ahmed Rashid's more recent works, such as "Descent into Chaos", in order to get an updated look at the history of the Taliban, including the post-9/11 years.
Good book (at least the first 100 pages) of the history of the Taliban. They got some incredible breaks early on that fed their unBlues Brothers, unfunny "we're on a mission from God" crap.
Eugene Novikov
Weird editing issues aside (the iPad version, at least, has all manner of problems, from spacing to the word "fled" repeatedly appearing as "fed," often more than once in the same sentence), this is a more than worthwhile primer on the takeover of Afghanistan by a group of barely-literate Kandahari mullahs. The main narrative of the Taliban advance across the country and fighting with Hazaras, Masoud, etc., is a bit dry, but gets going once Rashid starts to delve into the details of the Taliban ...more
Philip Athans
Feb 02, 2015 Philip Athans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and well-researched history of the Taliban movement by Pakinstani journalist Ahmed Rashid, who often reports from first-hand experience and conversations with some of the major players. This is a detailed and unflinching look at the rise of this gang of madmen and all the major world powers who helped them ... then turned on them ... then ignored them ... then helped them ... (etc.). I have to say, though, that for such an important book, Yale University Press seemed entirely uncon ...more
This book is about far more than just the Taliban. It is about the policies and the failures of the countries that have taken part in the struggle of the Mujaheddin and the Taliban for power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the Soviet troops: this includes Pakistan, Iran, all of the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia and, especially, the United States.

As the author points out, all of these countries during the 1990's took a very short-term view of their in
Sep 09, 2009 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished reading this book about a week ago, but haven't had time to write anything about it until now. Despite how long it took me, it's a very readable book and an excellent source of background information on Afghan history and the Taliban.

The book was published in 2000, which is one of my favorite things about it. It contains what seems like a realistic view of the capabilities of and threats posed by the Taliban, captured before September 11th happened and the entire world went c
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Rashid's account of the origin of the Hazaras 1 17 Mar 29, 2011 03:19PM  
  • The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban
  • Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History
  • In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics
  • Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy
  • Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • The Khyber Pass: A History of Empire and Invasion
  • The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
  • Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
  • Pakistan: A Hard Country
  • Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11
  • The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan
  • On the Road to Kandahar: Travels Through Conflict in the Islamic World
  • The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia
  • The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future
  • Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game & the Race for Empire in Central Asia
  • Engaging the Muslim World
Son of Ahmed (an engineer) and Piari (a homemaker) Rashid; married Angeles Espino Perez- Hurtado, 1982; children: Raphael, Sara Bano. Education: Attended Government College, Lahore, Pakistan, 1966- 68, and Cambridge University, 1968-70; earned B.A. and M.A. Religion: Muslim. Addresses: Homeoffice: Lahore Cant., Pakistan. E-mail:

Career: Journalist and broadcaster. Correspondent
More about Ahmed Rashid...

Share This Book

“Afghanistan is not only the mirror of the Afghans: it is the mirror of the world. 'If you do not like the image in the mirror, do not break the mirror, break your face,' says an old Persian proverb.” 18 likes
“Dr Leila Gupta found that most children had witnessed extreme violence and did not expect to survive. Two-thirds of the children interviewed had seen somebody killed by a rocket and scattered corpses or body parts. More than 70 per cent had lost a family member and no longer trusted adults. ‘They all suffer from flashbacks, nightmares and loneliness. Many said they felt their life was not worth living anymore,’ said Dr Gupta. Every norm of family life had been destroyed in the war.” 1 likes
More quotes…