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 iPublished 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 Taliban;" through Chap. 5 "Bamiyan 1998-2000.
Part II: Islam and The Taliban, Chapters 6-10. On the new-style fundamentalism; Taliban Political and Military Organization; Women, Children and Taliban Culture; High on Heroin: Drugs and the Taliban Economy; Global Jihad: The Arab-Afghans and Osama bin Laden. Rashid had his eye on him.
Part III: The New Great Game: Chapters 11-15 .Dictators and Oil Barons; The Taliban and Central Asia, Russia, Turkey, and Israel; The Battle for Pipelines, 1, 1994-96; Battle for Pipelines, 2. The USA and the Taliban (Remember Unocal and how American feminists (count me in!) opposed an American company in effect supporting the Taliban by building an oil pipeline?); Pakistan's Afghan War; Shia and Sunni: Iran and Saudi Arabia; The Future of Afghanistan.
Rashid said the book was 21 years in the making. And no sooner was the ink dry than "Descent Into Chaos" (see above.)
Rashid is a Pakistani journalist who has spent his career going back and forth between the two countries and around the world following this story. I believe he writes in English. There is no translator.
The history and the narrative are rich. Rashid covers the history of Afghanistan, Islam, and modern political history - especially the complicated involvement of Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
The text is well documented with references about persons he interviewed and sources of information. In addition to a bibliography there are four appendices on the Taliban. 1. A sample of Taliban decrees; 2. The structure of the Taliban - names of leaders and their governmental positions. 3. Chronology of the Taliban; 4. The New Great Game - comprehensive information about the energy sectors - proposed pipelines etc; 5. Glossary of Terms; 6. Bibliography.
The story is complicated and it's sometimes hard to keep everything straight. Rashid writes clearly and knowledgeably.
All the information is relevant to the ongoing story, as of March 2014....more