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Empires of Mud: Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan Paperback – March 13, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0199326785 ISBN-10: 0199326789 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Giustozzi assesses the dynamics of warlordism...a chilling prognosis for those who believe that the solution to stabilising Afghanistan will come only from the top down--by building strong central government institutions. Although creating a strong centralised state, assuming it ever happens, may help ensure long-term stability, it is not sufficient in Afghanistan. The current top-down state-building and counterinsurgency efforts must take place alongside bottom-up programs, such as reaching out to legitimate local leaders to enlist them in providing security and services at the village and district levels. Otherwise, the Afghan government will lose the war"--Foreign Affairs


"A masterful account of the dilemmas of state-building in Afghanistan and his concluding words should be heeded when he warns that he doubts that strong national leadership will emerge in a context of external intervention in Afghanistan."--International Affairs


"The first book to provide a political sociology of warlordism in Afghanistan; its purpose is to understand in detail how warlord polities work, expand and disintegrate. Empires of Mud will become required reading, both for academics and policy-makers studying the phenomenon of warlordism, and for those with a specialist interest in Afghanistan."--Jonathan Goodhand, School of Oriental and African Studies


Review

Antonio Giustozzi's books and articles on Afghanistan are uniformly penetrating, and this work is no exception. The issue of warlordism in conflict is one of the most challenging that can be confronted in both conceptual and practical terms, and Giustozzi has contributed significantly on both fronts. Empires of Mud is an enlightening study, which in its detailed appraisal of two major Afghan cases adds valuably to the literature on developments in that country since the communist coup of April 1978-an event that sent Afghanistan into a tailspin from which it has yet to recover.

(William Maley, author of Rescuing Afghanistan ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199326789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199326785
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,577,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. R. on April 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is filled to the brim with names and dates that even to the experienced scholar can prove to be overwhelming. It's difficult to read, as it attempts to provide a complex history by showering as many proper nouns as possible onto the reader. For the casual reader wishing to learn more about Afghanistan, a more mainstream work like Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos (or for the Mujahideen period, Steve Coll's Ghost Wars) may be a better choice.
At the same time, Guistozzi has done some really great research and provides a compilation of research that can help those wishing to delve deeper into Afghan history. He brings the useful insight of one who has really explored the spheres of the warlords with an academic eye, and he offers a wealth of new knowledge about their histories. For those wishing to really understand the warlord phenomenon and who have some time to work through this book, its a necessary read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brad on January 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I disagree with the other reviewers. Giustozzi opens a fascinating dialogue of the role of warlords in the state building process and with it-clearly explains the errors the international community is making in Afghanistan and why after 10 years we still do not understand this complex (but simple at the same time) culture. Warlords are a true reality of Afghan society and they are often times barbaric. Despite this, they have legitimacy, and must be dealt with delicately, which is exactly what President Karzai has done over the past decade. Although the middle of the book is very academically written the first few chapters are so well written that I found interesting points in nearly every sentence. I highly recommend this book for the serious diplomat, soldier, or student of Afghanistan. A basic understanding of Poltiical Science, Intl Relations and state-building in history is likely a prerequisite to get something out of this book. 5 stars for the serious academic.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob Blair on December 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Giustozzi has written a handful of interesting articles about Afghanistan, but his book is a disappointment throughout: the narrative is scatter-brained, the conceptual framework is insipid, the analysis is uninsightful, and the writing is nearly unintelligible. Far better treatments of Afghanistan (including the history of Afghan warlordism) are available: skip Giustozzi and go for Rubin's "The Fragmentation of Afghanistan" or (better yet) Barfield's "Afghanistan" instead.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Creative Loafer on April 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is difficult to read and provides little insight. The author skips back and forth from information from whole different time periods of the 1980's, 1990's, and 2000's. Since the subject is Afghan warlords, it matters a lot when they were -for example- opposing the government. The sections on General Dostum and Ismail Khan provide a certain amount of information but little analysis or other useful takeaway.
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Empires of Mud: Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan
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