Anand Gopal

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Anand Gopal

Goodreads Author


Member Since
February 2007


Average rating: 4.42 · 1,682 ratings · 253 reviews · 4 distinct worksSimilar authors
No Good Men Among the Livin...

4.44 avg rating — 1,571 ratings — published 2014 — 5 editions
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The Anti-Inauguration: Buil...

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4.11 avg rating — 108 ratings6 editions
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Quantum Theory for the Rest...

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2004
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I am Akbar Agha: Memories o...

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4.44 avg rating — 9 ratings — published 2014 — 4 editions
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The Seasons of Trouble by Rohini Mohan
"I am always skeptical when I pick up books on the 26 year civil war in Sri Lanka. As a Tamil myself, I was raised hearing stories of what it was like for my family to live in Sri Lanka as Tamils during the time when the Sri Lankan government enfor..." Read more of this review »
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Autumn by Ali Smith
" haha "
Autumn by Ali Smith
"Used too many references to literature and pop culture to make a point about our current time that ends up saying very little about our current time. "
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Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
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The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
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Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
"This is a crucial read. Orwell captures beautifully the struggle between the idealism he wants to believe in and the realities on the ground, making this one of the most poignant, important pieces of war reporting out there. "
A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
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An attempt to write a Dickensian novel about rich people. This might be one of the worst books I've ever read.
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A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey
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The key point in this book is that neoliberalism isn't just a failed economic policy (as Stiglitz and others claim) but a deliberate attempt to steal wealth from the poor. In other words, neoliberalism is class warfare, waged since the 1970s.
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A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey
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The key point in this book is that neoliberalism isn't just a failed economic policy (as Stiglitz and others claim) but a deliberate attempt to steal wealth from the poor. In other words, neoliberalism is class warfare, waged since the 1970s.
More of Anand's books…
“Winning a war such as this was not about planting flags or defending territory or building fancy villas. It was not about titles or promotions or offices. It was not about democracy or jihad, freedom or honor. It was about resisting the categories chosen for you; about stubbornness in the face of grand designs and schemas. About doing what you had to do, whether they called you a terrorist or an infidel. To win a war like this was to master the ephemeral, to plan a future while knowing that it could all be over in an instant. To comfort your children when the air outside throbs in the middle of the night, to squeeze your spouse’s hand tight when your taxi hits a pothole on an open highway, to go to school or the fields or a wedding and return to tell about it. To survive.”
Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes

“The toll from the two attacks: twenty-one pro-American leaders and their employees dead, twenty-six taken prisoner, and a few who could not be accounted for. Not one member of the Taliban or al-Qaeda was among the victims. Instead, in a single thirty-minute stretch the United States had managed to eradicate both of Khas Uruzgan’s potential governments, the core of any future anti-Taliban leadership—stalwarts who had outlasted the Russian invasion, the civil war, and the Taliban years but would not survive their own allies. People in Khas Uruzgan felt what Americans might if, in a single night, masked gunmen had wiped out the entire city council, mayor’s office, and police department of a small suburban town: shock, grief, and rage.”
Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes

“Even before the first Soviet tanks crossed into Afghanistan in 1979, a movement of Islamists had sprung up nationwide in opposition to the Communist state. They were, at first, city-bound intellectuals, university students and professors with limited countryside appeal. But under unrelenting Soviet brutality they began to forge alliances with rural tribal leaders and clerics. The resulting Islamist insurgents—the mujahedeen—became proxies in a Cold War battle, with the Soviet Union on one side and the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia on the other. As the Soviets propped up the Afghan government, the CIA and other intelligence agencies funneled millions of dollars in aid to the mujahedeen, along with crate after crate of weaponry. In the process, traditional hierarchies came radically undone.

When the Communists killed hundreds of tribal leaders and landlords, young men of more humble backgrounds used CIA money and arms to form a new warrior elite in their place. In the West, we would call such men “warlords.” In Afghanistan they are usually labeled “commanders.” Whatever the term, they represented a phenomenon previously unknown in Afghan history. Now, each valley and district had its own mujahedeen commanders, all fighting to free the country from Soviet rule but ultimately subservient to the CIA’s guns and money.

The war revolutionized the very core of rural culture. With Afghan schools destroyed, millions of boys were instead educated across the border in Pakistani madrassas, or religious seminaries, where they were fed an extreme, violence-laden version of Islam. Looking to keep the war fueled, Washington—where the prevailing ethos was to bleed the Russians until the last Afghan—financed textbooks for schoolchildren in refugee camps festooned with illustrations of Kalashnikovs, swords, and overturned tanks. One edition declared:

Jihad is a kind of war that Muslims fight in the name of God to free Muslims.… If infidels invade, jihad is the obligation of every Muslim.

An American text designed to teach children Farsi:

Tey [is for] Tofang (rifle); Javed obtains rifles for the mujahedeen

Jeem [is for] Jihad; Jihad is an obligation. My mom went to the jihad.

The cult of martyrdom, the veneration of jihad, the casting of music and cinema as sinful—once heard only from the pulpits of a few zealots—now became the common vocabulary of resistance nationwide. The US-backed mujahedeen branded those supporting the Communist government, or even simply refusing to pick sides, as “infidels,” and justified the killing of civilians by labeling them apostates. They waged assassination campaigns against professors and civil servants, bombed movie theaters, and kidnapped humanitarian workers. They sabotaged basic infrastructure and even razed schools and clinics.

With foreign backing, the Afghan resistance eventually proved too much for the Russians. The last Soviet troops withdrew in 1989, leaving a battered nation, a tottering government that was Communist in name only, and a countryside in the sway of the commanders. For three long years following the withdrawal, the CIA kept the weapons and money flowing to the mujahedeen, while working to block any peace deal between them and the Soviet-funded government. The CIA and Pakistan’s spy agency pushed the rebels to shell Afghan cities still under government control, including a major assault on the eastern city of Jalalabad that flattened whole neighborhoods. As long as Soviet patronage continued though, the government withstood the onslaught.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, however, Moscow and Washington agreed to cease all aid to their respective proxies. Within months, the Afghan government crumbled. The question of who would fill the vacuum, who would build a new state, has not been fully resolved to this day.”
Anand Gopal

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