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Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan
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Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  547 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
First time in paperback, with a new Introduction and final chapter

World affairs expert and intrepid travel journalist Robert D. Kaplan braved the dangers of war-ravaged Afghanistan in the 1980s, living among the mujahidin—the “soldiers of god”—whose unwavering devotion to Islam fueled their mission to oust the formidable Soviet invaders. In Soldiers of God we follow Kapla
Paperback, Revised Edition, 278 pages
Published November 27th 2001 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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ahmad  afridi
Personal memoir of writer about the events that took place while being with afghan warlords as well as during Inside visit to war-front . There are many events described in this book which are new for me but the problem was poor references.

writing about people fighting in Afghanistan he came across some interesting actors there like there was a German who came all the way to fight in Afghanistan just to
"even the score with Russian "

because he was imprisoned while crossing berlin wall to meet
May 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Sweeping writing, richly grounded in epics and songs of antiquity, making the Soviet occupation appear but a footnote in the Central Asian epoch. Kaplan presents insightful portraits of the central players like Dostum and Hekatamyr and the "human terrain" of that land in the years before al-Qaida and 9/11.

My favorite parts: The Mujahadeen needs the exact range in order to drop a mortar inside a Soviet bases. Local merchants are allowed to come and go around and outside the base but not inside. S
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hookah, m-turtle
in the end, what separates a greater writer from the merely good is some unknown recipe of personality, experience, life choices, plain analytical talent, and luck. there are not a few hundred journalists working in kabul or central asia, but many of them are just fed stories by local stringers, never leave the hotel bar, or just plain 'don't get it.' you can't read an iraq or afghan memoir without meeting dozens of these peripheral characters, people off on their quixotic idealistic campaigns o ...more
Will Byrnes
This was written in the early 90’s, and looks at the local players in Afghanistan, the various tribal leaders, with a lot of information about what the Soviets did there during their war. Kaplan actually spent some time with the combatants and provides an intimate portrait of the nation, such as it is. This is a worthwhile read.
Rodrigo Mora
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Un recorrido periodistico vivido si bien excesivamente candido al Afghanistan de los 80. Aunque llega a ser hiperbolico como celebracion de los mujahidin y de su lucha contra los sovieticos, sigue siendo valido como como contrapunto a la la imagen de terrorista semisalvaje que ha reemplazado en este siglo al exotismo de kipling y al heroismo del mujahid a la hora de imaginar al combatiente afgano.
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was on the reader’s list before the terrorist attacks of 11September 2001; after those events however it seemed more imperative to read it. The book contains Kaplan’s typically superb reporting. While limited by the fact that it stops with the 1989 Soviet pullout, it nonetheless provides a superb background for recalling the events that unfolded in Afghanistan during the 1990’s and provides many an insight into the events of late 2001. Kaplan provides excellent profiles of the key muja ...more
Jennifer Collins
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Kaplan's examination of the cultures, climates, and histories of Afghanistan and Pakistan is both engaging and telling. More than any other work I've come across, Soldiers of God works to not only uncover the current situation (as of 1990), but to clearly and carefully trace how it developed. Written before most of the Western World knew anything of Afghanistan, when the warriors he spoke to were dealing with Soviet missiles, the passages and conversations in this work do more to illuminate the ...more
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the single most engaging book I've ever read on Afghanistan. That said, it took me a few pages to figure out what it was about, since Kaplan starts in medias res and provides almost no frame for the surreal, fever-dream action to come. This is not a bad narrative strategy: Kaplan was a guest of the mujahideen in the 80s---a decidedly surreal time and place under some of the most unusual and difficult circumstances in which journalists might find themselves. Going "inside" was both physi ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have always been interested in wars and revolutions from a very young age. I remember i was about 13 when i used to watch political news and would read the news paper everyday. I would often ask my dad and uncles about the war in Afghanistan but they wouldn't tell me much.I have read many books on Afghanistan and this book was one of the best i have read. The book explore mujahidin inside Afghanistan who fought bravely against the USSR regime. But this book only talks about the Pathans who fou ...more
Nate Granzow
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kaplan's writing style in this book is plain, highly analytical, and frankly, dry—heavy with information and filled with difficult-to-remember names—but if you can muscle your way through, you may find as I did his explanation of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the parties involved, the nature and goals of the Mujahideen, and the country's brutal climate are enlightening and extremely detailed.

His portrayal of the Afghan jihadists has drawn criticism from some readers (who likely don't unde
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Afghanistan & its issues
Shelves: islam
I read Soldiers of God at the same time that I read The Bookseller of Kabul (for book club) and found Soldiers to be an enlightening companion read because while Bookseller focused on one family in Kabul, its interpersonal dynamics, and how religion and culture affected its members, Soldiers gave a broader view of various groups and their political and personal dynamics in Afghanistan. Also, both books were written by Western journalists, which gave the books a somewhat similar (though by no mea ...more
Corey Alan
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
As far as travel narratives go, this one hits the mark. I can't comment on the accuracy or the level of misleading bias, but to me it seems entirely plausible, informative, and apolitical. For me, reading this book helped give life to the region and its challenges; I have an improved sense of the complexity of the Islamic world in general, and of the relationship between cold war imperialists, afghans, and pakistanis in particular. Kaplan writes of the region in the 1980s, when the USSR was the ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Kaplan gives a quick insight what events between 1973 and 1980 lead to soviet invasion of Afghanistan and what motivation the Mujahedeen had to fight the forced change upon them.

Kaplan shares most of his information and experience collected during his stay in the Pakistani border town of Peshawar. There he had the chance to meet with some of the groups and hear about the others. He travels inside Afghanistan for a few short period of times and shares his journey with the reader.

I liked the fact
Jun 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
The first-hand account at the ground level is nice, refreshing even. Unfortunately the places, people, and culture he describes are either too abstract, or very difficult to conceptualize; this coming from a guy who has worked in Af/Pak academia! The narrative is disjointed, both chronologically as well as in subject, at times bouncing from the historical to the anthropological to the political to the personal all in the space of a page. Also, he's super full of joke.

Oh, also, those
Travis Kendall
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very interesting pre-9/11 look at the men who now, in part, make up the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Kaplan is a fearless journalist who goes right to the source in order to give some insight into the men who drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan and eventually became both our allies and our enemies. Kaplan gives an honest, sweeping narriative. Kaplan does not sugar coat enything, there are not many white hats in this book. A great read for anyone interested in Afghanistan/Pakistan and why things have ...more
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Robert Kaplan continues to captivate my attention with his pellucid narratives of the struggles of the mujahedeen against their Soviet Invaders in this novel. Given the time frame the novel was written, I find it very interesting to see the Afghan warriors cast in such a positive light prior to the events of 9/11 and the Taliban taking over the government and control of the country. I concede I am not very savvy regarding the geo-political history of this region but for those who wish to diminis ...more
Al Swanson
Apr 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
A tiny bit biased (which the author acknowledges in his forward to this new edition), but overall a decent book on the time and place. Gives you a perspective normally not shown - that of the journalist.

Interesting pieces on the leaders and the lives of the Afghan fighters and leaders. Includes some on Karzai, the current leader of the country.

Overall worth reading if you have an interest in the region, the conflict or the people. Keep in mind that the conflict reflected in this book is the So
Caloway Gavin
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very well done. If you want to understand America's involvement in Afghanistan in the 2010s, then read this book written in 1989. It will introduce you and provide the necessary back story to all the afghan leaders today, including those we encouraged, financed and armed back then and are chasing after in the mountains today. You will be shocked how everything is different, but little has changed... Except it is now us instead of the Russians.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cold-war
Very good book on the Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The author admits to not being objective at the time in the new introduction as he looked back on his work. The new epilogue involves his revisiting some of the places he visited in the 80's in the modern time and how they have changed. All in all a very good book by someone who took the physical risk to go into Afghanistan multiple times to meet with Muj leaders during the Soviet-Afghan War.
Frances Brady
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Writing is quite biased towards one group over another, and is (as author admits later) very immature. There were too many anecdotes about specific people, instead of giving me a larger overview. That's the genre of book it is so it did do well at that, but it wasn't quite what I would have liked to read. However, it did help that he was so biased in favor of a culture that I've been a bit too biased against, because it helped me swing more to the middle.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
The author has travled far enough and wide enough to have pull in foreign policy circles. This book, covering his trips to Afghanistan at the end of the Soviet-Afghan war (1988-1989) highlights names who will take a more center stage to U.S. audiences following 9/11 and the war with/in Afghanistan. An interesting and relatively short read with a follow-up just before 9/11.
May 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: islam, middle-east
Fascinating book, and I enjoyed learning more about the mujahidin. I just wish Kaplan hadn't made so many anti-Arab and anti-Muslim statements. He seemed to feel that the Tajik and Pashto mujahidin were the only Muslims he was at all impressed by.
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Excellent early review of the last days of the monarchy, the Communist governments, Soviet invasion, and the rise of the mujahideen. Very detailed personal account of hard travels through Afghanistan with some of the resistance's legendary figures. Also eminently readable.
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The best part of the book is when Kaplan learns that the mujahedin term for hail is "Allah's Minesweeper", because the hail sets off the landmines laid by the Soviets.
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Self indulgent but interesting in its way.
Mohsan Butt
May 06, 2009 is currently reading it
i want to read it
T. Fowler
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Kaplan is a good writer. He presents a good picture of the confusing tangle of mujahaddin groups at that time.
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-east
Everything Kaplan writes is worth a look. This is short but to the point.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I WOULD DIE travelling with Muslim fighters in Afghanistan. This book clearly illustrates the life of the wandering freedom fighters (and how sick a Westerner will get drinking the water.)
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I may need to re-read this book. Kaplan doesn't write happy books, but I learn so much from his on-the-scene reports.
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Robert David Kaplan is an American journalist, currently a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His writings have also been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs and The Wall Street Journal, among other newspapers and publications, and his more controversial essays about the nature of U.S. power have spurred debate ...more
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