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Massoud: An Intimate Portrait of the Legendary Afghan Leader Paperback – March 1, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Marcela Grad is a writer and translator born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The stories in this book were collected by her during a period of four years in which she interviewed Afghans as well as people around the world who knew and accompanied Massoud in the long resistance against the Soviets and the Taliban.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Webster University Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: 0982161506
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #878,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Baker VINE VOICE on August 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have somewhat mixed reactions to this portrait of Ahmad Shah Massoud. On reflection I found it a worthwhile and rewarding read, particularly as it dispels myths perpetrated by others (such as Massoud being as vicious as his enemies) and makes it rather clear that the Pakistani ISI is greatly responsible for the rise and arming of the Taliban to control and subjugate Afghanistan (even though this is tangential to the book).

But this is really a collection of stories, blurbs, and remembrances of Massoud that tell what he was like as a man and leader through the eyes of others. It paints Massoud as an intuitively excellent military strategist and a deeply humble and spiritual leader. It clearly puts Massoud on a very high pedestal as a Sufi like Islamic leader, not only humble but with an ability to deeply affect others on a spiritual level. He was also forward thinking as a believer in rights for women (such as having an education and career), tolerant of the religion of others, and kind (or at least not brutal) to his enemies. He contradictorily abhorred violence yet had to embrace it given the circumstances.

His failures in an impossible situation once the Soviets were thrown out of Afghanistan as Defense Minister under a shaky regime are probably the best sections of the book, as they allow us to see Massoud from a different, less critical angle, that is no doubt as true, if not more so, than those of his critics.

The author makes it very clear that this is not a critical biography of Massoud but look at this life through eyes of his close family, friends, and others that knew him very well. She does the reader a service by this (even though the disclaimer is in obscure place).
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Brutus on June 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a compelling book that I highly recommend, especially to our men and women destined to serve in Afghanistan, so as to gain a better knowledge of the country and of its people.

The picture that emerges from all of the testimonials about Massoud is that of a remarkable human being who in the face of adversity and the horrors of war was able to maintain his humanity.

Brutus
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Decker on March 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
If I had never heard of Massoud before, this book would still have fascinated me, mystified me and delighted me. To read Ms. Grad's book is to enter into another world. A world brought alive by a many mirrored view of a special and unusual, but very human, man.

Marcela Grad has created a kaleidoscopic portrait from the experiences, perceptions, emotions, adventures and appreciations of many different and diverse people who knew Massoud or who had their lives changed in one way or another by him, by his actions, his influence, his spirit, his soul.

It is a book of discovery, full of riches, surprises, delights, deep feelings and much information. Like a magic door allowing the reader to enter into the many faceted world of the "Mysterious Orient" and to do this through the life of a contemporary man of Afghanistan, a man of its history, its culture and its spirit.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mícheál Ó Healighthe on June 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book about Commander Massoud of Afghanistan's United Front is unlike any biographical book I've ever read. Instead of a narrow narrative giving a chronology of his life, this book lets you get to know this singular figure through individuals whose lives he touched. It astounded me how vast that array of individuals was --from Afghan villagers to western officials, the international press and "enemy" soldiers whom he treated with touching compassion. Ms Grad has assembled countless mosaic tiles of this man's remarkable life as a leader, guerrilla and great lover of learning, poetry and humanity.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Russell Ray on June 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
This intimate portrait of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary Afghan leader, is drawn from interviews conducted by Ms. Grad with his family and others who knew him best and many other people who were touched by him. These first hand stories about Massoud come from the heart. As Ms. Grad points out, those who knew Massoud thought of him as a very special leader and man possessing something "different" than other man. These reminiscences will help the reader discover what made this remarkable man and leader "special."

In these very troubled times in Afghanistan where the US is fighting the Taliban, Al Quaida and other enemies of the Afghan people and committed to rebuilding the country, this book will help readers put a face on those we are seeking to help. This book should be required reading for all decision makers in Washington D.C., those who are sent to fight in Afghanistan and those in the media who want to understand that country and the "heart" of its people.

If we are to be more that than another occupier of Afghanistan, we must find more leaders like Massoud or Afghan leaders who have taken Massoud's life as an example to emulate and encourage them to become our partners in securing and rebuilding their country. To understand what is at stake for the people of Afghanistan, who have been in a constant state of war for 35 years, we must understand the life of Massoud, and what his life meant to them. Ms. Grad's book helps accomplish this task.
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