Dionysus's Reviews > Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia

Taliban by Ahmed Rashid
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Sep 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: general-history, politics, middle-east, international-relations
Read from September 05 to 08, 2012

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 public sphere. Another chapter discusses the relationship between the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda operatives who set up camp in Afghanistan. The third part takes a look at Afghanistan's role in the "New Great Game", the geopolitical chess match between major powers seeking to control real or potential oil and gas pipelines running through the country. The second edition contains an epilogue detailing the gradual resurgence of the Taliban in the years following the US invasion of 2001.

Despite having followed events in Afghanistan since 2001, and gleaning information from the news, I learned a lot of interesting things from this book that helped put things into perspective. I knew, for example, that Iran had supported the Anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, but I had not known that Iran nearly mobilized for war in 1998 after the Iranian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif was stormed by Taliban forces and several staff members were murdered. The Taliban did not make many friends during their brutal conquest of Afghanistan, and eventually alienated even Saudi Arabia for their refusal to turn over Osama Bin Laden.

This is a great starting point for anyone looking to learn about post-1989 Afghanistan.
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