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Taliban [Kindle Edition]

James Fergusson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Fifteen years ago, southern Afghanistan was in even greater chaos than it is now. The Russians, who had occupied the country throughout the 1980s, were long gone. The disparate ethnic and religious leaders who had united to eject the invaders - the famous mujaheddin - were at each others' throats. For the rural poor of Kandahar province, life was almost impossible.

On 12 October 1994 a small group of religious students decided to take matters into their own hands. Led by an illiterate village mullah with one eye, some 200 of them surrounded and took Spin Boldak, a trucking stop on the border with Pakistan. From this short and unremarkable border skirmish, a legend was born. The students' numbers swelled as news of their triumph spread. The Taliban, as they now called themselves - taliban is the plural of talib, literally 'one who seeks knowledge' - had a simple mission statement: the disarmament of the population, and the establishment of a theocracy based on Sharia law. They fought with a religious zeal that the warring mujaheddin could not match.

By February 1995, this people's revolt had become a national movement; 18 months later Kabul fell, and the country was effectively theirs. James Fergusson's fascinating account of this extraordinary story will be required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the situation in Afghanistan, now and for the future...

Editorial Reviews


"Excellent" Time Out (Book of the Week) "one of the best... a brave book - Fergusson is prepared to probe beyond the cliche" Daily Telegraph


Kirkus Reviews, 5/15/11
“An intriguing argument for negotiations with the Taliban presented as the necessary precondition for a political settlement and withdrawal.”

Boston Globe, 6/1/11
“This sympathetic and eye-opening account should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Afghanistan.”

San Francisco Chronicle, 7/31/11
“Fergusson’s critique of the West’s failures in Afghanistan is devastating, and his insightful conversations with Afghans, including Taliban and their supporters, are very much worth reading.”

Reference and Research Book News, October 2011
“Fergusson…offers a portrait of the history and current status of the Taliban in which he hopes to counter Western images of the group as mere ‘bearded bigots’ and to impress upon the reader that the only way out of the mess that is the war in Afghanistan will be through a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.”


Product Details

  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0593066359
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (September 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003ZDO8VQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,006 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For a good insight into Afghanistan read this book! June 16, 2011
I actually read the latest updated edition, called "Taliban: The True Story About the World's Most Feared Guerilla Fighters," which can be found on the UK Amazon site.

This book is a very good read and it will provide insight into the situation in Afghanistan; how and why the Taliban came to power and then were (temporarily?) dethroned by the US invasion, Al Quaida's role in Afghanistan, as well as how other nations interests have influenced the war. It also show how the coalition forces are being used by various clans as (unknowing) pawns to exact revenge in generation old vendettas, and how their [the coalition forces] cultural insensitivity and/or ignorance is only increasing the Afghan people's willingness to support the Taliban.

I saw one reviewer who thought that Fergusson was excusing the Taliban's punishment of violations against the sharia laws, and I think that is incorrect. Fergusson was trying to supply context and when possible, the Taliban's reasons (however absurd they may seem to a western reader) for enacting the ban on TV and kite flying etc - he was not making excuses. Providing context and explanation is not the same thing as excusing.

To sum this up; this book provided me with a lot of information (and again; context) which western media has (willingly?) ignored and/or failed to provide. I agree with Fergusson's conclusion that the only way to end the war in Afghanistan is through dialog with the Taliban followed by a complete withdrawal of all foreign troops.

(Now, if we could only get the ISI to bud out as well...)
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sympathy for the June 1, 2011
I initially thought I'd give this review "James Fergusson 'hearts' the Taliban" as a title. But that wouldn't be fair since I think the book and the author's ideas have some merit.

I'm giving the author five stars for proposing something that the United States seriously needs to consider...doing a deal with the Taliban that will allow the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan without having to worry that it will revert to being the de facto "treehouse" for all manner of global jihadist groups. I also give him kudos for taking the trouble to actually talk with the Taliban and former Taliban himself rather than rely on secondary sources).

I'm open to the idea of doing a deal with the Taliban because I've grown increasingly skeptical that the United States and its allies can do very much to establish a "nice" system of government there. And I believe that the recent lynching of UN workers in Mazar-e Sharif in response to the antics of Terry Jones indicate that there really isn't a lot of daylight between "Taliban extremists" and "nice Afghans." Would it be great if Afghanistan was a functioning country with emancipated women, constitutionally protected freedoms? Sure. But in the end the United States needs to have is a situation where the country won't become a launchpad for terrorist attacks throughout the world once again. If the Taliban can deliver on that, I'd be happy to strike a deal with them because it's in the interest of the United States.

The problem with this book is that Fergusson really does bend over backwards to excuse, minimize, or otherwise wave away all the odious aspects of the first Taliban regime (The brutal public executions? Hey, some of those killed were guilty! The gender apartheid?
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing look November 10, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
James Fergusson brings us a refreshingly different view on the Taliban and their history and role in Afghanistan. A well researched book debunking some of the common myth's associated with the Taliban.

After reading this book I feel I have a much better understanding of Afghansitan and the issues facing the troops on the ground. I take my hat off to the author for a gutsy realistice look at the Taliban.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat of an apologist for the Taliban. December 1, 2013
Here is my concern about this book. The author makes the case that the Taliban are effectively the opposition to a corrupt government in Afghanistan. Opposition is centered on people's hatred of foreign invaders in their country and the way to eject them from the country. Thus it is important to negotiate with them for their role in the post IAF (American) government. I understand this concept, and embrace it. The issue is the author's apologist role for the excesses of the Taliban regime. Women discriminated against. No problem, Western audiences just misinterpreted this issue. Karzai doesn't even let his wife out. The financing of the opposition with Opium and heroin profits-even the present government lets this happen. The case of the Shiite Hazara tribe being killed off, this is an exaggeration by the West, the Taliban never touched a hair on any of these people's heads. Come on Fergusson, do you really believe this. The Taliban were not good people-they have a seventh century attitude to human rights. When I hear the author state the case for those imprisoned under the Americans-I felt they had their lives back after endearing punishment and imprisonment. If the Taliban would have been in charge, they would have been hung. When you write an assessment, be brutally honest and establish what is known. The Taliban discriminated against women and minorities. They had crazy ideas about what was acceptable in modern society. If this upsets you Taliban friends, then so be it. It is more objective to admit what the weaknesses of the Taliban regime were. I am glad Fergusson was not around for the Nazi regime in WWII. If he was, we would be treated to an explanation of why the Nazis were OK guys, and just misunderstood. Read more ›
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