This is a magnificent work of enormous importance, laying bare the multitudes and layers of errors made by all involved in the last 9 years in Afghanistan in particular, and delivering prescriptions for positive change.
‘If we can better understand what has happened before, what has gone wrong, and what needs to go right, as this book attempts to do, then we can better face up to our collective future.’ p. 404 (final sentence).
Rashid does focus throughout on the ‘what went wrong,’ within each period, within each country, within each layer of strategy. This enormous data set should be extremely useful as we here in the US all hopefully move towards a more nuanced, principled, integrity-rich practice of foreign policy.
The more you already know about Afghanistan and Pakistan and the last decade, the more easily you’ll be able to layer in all of the wealth of information contained here. Myself, I was relatively ignorant, and so felt uncomfortably overwhelmed for some periods. But it eased, and I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book. The writing is lively, engaging, fascinating (even breath-taking in parts) and flows into every nook and cranny related to the subject. So the content is wide-ranging and always rewarding of attention.
Highly recommend to everyone but especially all US citizens as - actively or passively - we played a huge role in the birthing and nurturance of the global threat of terrorism facing us today. And simply detaching is - I don’t believe - a valid option, atleast not until the significant accumulation of damage done from our last several decades of involvement is healed. (less)
I wanted something to accompany 'Dark Valley', something to add a little bit of map-content or visual of some kind, or alternately a different telling...moreI wanted something to accompany 'Dark Valley', something to add a little bit of map-content or visual of some kind, or alternately a different telling of the same content (always nice to have atleast two versions of anything). I saw this - heaven!
Each two-page spread is about some transition, period of time, or other concrete situation; and it goes from prehistoria to current. Certainly there are many choices built-in, and someone could differ with how they laid things out. But it seems to tie in well with 'Dark Valley'.
For instance, in Dark Valley, there is a section on Stalin and 1928-1933, and there is a two-page spread on exactly that. With one map showing who it was who fought against the Red Army (the White Army's generals, as well as foreign groups), where they started from and where they reached before they were stopped. Another map shows where in Europe other Communist groups existed for a while. Then, there's a great map about the industrialization that occurred, where each different kind of enterprise was situated, where the rail lines were put in. Also on that one is the different boundaries in different years during that period. Accompanying those three maps is text of the period, laying out with broad brush strokes the salient facts of the period. This book kinds of provides the pithy version, while 'Dark Valley' is more colorful, anecdotal, story-telling. Also there are different emphasis, this book doesn't emphasize nearly as much that the reason for the famine was Stalin actually taking the food away from the farmers. This one makes it seem more like it was a failure of farming structures.
So, exactly what I was looking for! Highly recommend for anyone interested in history/related subjects.
And it is *trying* to be not patriarchal, not biased, not from the point of view that White Europe = civilization; via inputs from the rest of the universe. But, of course, doesn't achieve a perspective fully separate from that, there are still blinders and all. Like on India, paraphrased: 'Although England brought many benefits to India, debate still continues on the overall legacy..' with no mention of the partition. etc.. But really does try to approach human activity from the onset of it to today, from an even-handedly global perspective. A great first go at it, for sure! Completely waylaid me tonite, was looking at Italy being in Somalia, then had to see before then, then before then.. fascinating.
Lots of skimming, in concert with 'The Dark Valley', highly recommend!(less)
This one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes...moreThis one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes talking superficially about something can yield insight, like sifting through sand on a beach can yield bits of organic matter.. But that sifting process wasn't worth the jarring unpleasantness of writing style. Which was to my preferred writing style as a childish flipbook is to a well produced gorgeous coffee-table book rich with fascinating content and evocative photographs.
the pain.. the pain.. I have yet to read this because I've always been afraid that the frothing at the mouth and tearing of the hair that would ensue...morethe pain.. the pain.. I have yet to read this because I've always been afraid that the frothing at the mouth and tearing of the hair that would ensue would upset my offspring and make me temporarily unemployable. Once sufficient time passes (or something), will make a stab at it.(less)
Apparently it will be necessary to read this book with a filter, so that the true parts get in and the unsupported conclusions and stereotypes etc.. r...moreApparently it will be necessary to read this book with a filter, so that the true parts get in and the unsupported conclusions and stereotypes etc.. remain inactive. Not sure how to do that.. maybe need to read other things on the same subject first - if there are any?(less)
I'm angry just looking at the cover.. Have had this to read for a while, along with a bunch of other anti-Bush books. The rest I finally passed along...moreI'm angry just looking at the cover.. Have had this to read for a while, along with a bunch of other anti-Bush books. The rest I finally passed along to the library so people could actually read them, this one I held on to since it's so current yet today, between the power of Oil in world affairs to the position of the contractors in Iraq to the continuing relationship between lobbyists and govt. Ugh. Now I just have to actually read the thing.(less)
obviously outdated now, but seemed like a way to begin to create some tiny semblance of a hint of awareness around foreign policy. Might still be inte...moreobviously outdated now, but seemed like a way to begin to create some tiny semblance of a hint of awareness around foreign policy. Might still be interesting still as history.. (less)