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Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia Paperback – March 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Yale Nota Bene
  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Yale Nota Bene Books; English Language edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300089023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300089028
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This is the single best book available on the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Afghanistan responsible for harboring the terrorist Osama bin Laden. Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistani journalist who has spent most of his career reporting on the region--he has personally met and interviewed many of the Taliban's shadowy leaders. Taliban was written and published before the massacres of September 11, 2001, yet it is essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand the aftermath of that black day. It includes details on how and why the Taliban came to power, the government's oppression of ordinary citizens (especially women), the heroin trade, oil intrigue, and--in a vitally relevant chapter--bin Laden's sinister rise to power. These pages contain stories of mass slaughter, beheadings, and the Taliban's crushing war against freedom: under Mullah Omar, it has banned everything from kite flying to singing and dancing at weddings. Rashid is for the most part an objective reporter, though his rage sometimes (and understandably) comes to the surface: "The Taliban were right, their interpretation of Islam was right, and everything else was wrong and an expression of human weakness and a lack of piety," he notes with sarcasm. He has produced a compelling portrait of modern evil. --John Miller

From Library Journal

Afghanistan's position as a crossroads in Central Asia made it part of the 19th-century Great Game of imperialism and brings it to international strategic prominence once again. Rashid is a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review who has covered Afghanistan's changing fortunes since the 1978 Soviet invasion. In his second book, he covers the origin and rise of the Taliban, its concepts of Islam on questions of gender roles and drugs, and the importance of the country to the development of energy resources in the region. His account of the Taliban's origins among the Pashtun refugees in Pakistani camps and their minimal education in Koranic schools from poorly educated teachers explains their lack of knowledge of the history and culture of their own country and of what it means to govern. The failed state that is now Afghanistan threatens to destabilize its neighbors by exporting both drugs and extremist views. Unlike Peter Marsden's Taliban: War Religion and the New Order in Afghanistan (Oxford Univ., 1998), this new work emphasizes the international implications of the Taliban and its government. A lucid and thoroughly researched account, it is recommended for academic and most public libraries.
-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ahmed Rashid is a journalist who has been covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia for more than twenty years. He is a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, Daily Telegraph, and The Nation, a leading newspaper in Pakistan. His #1 New York Times bestseller Taliban has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Customer Reviews

The book is well researched and informative.
Fernando Melendez
Rashid does a good job of describing the violent history of Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as how the Taliban came to power.
L. Lieb
Whatever you may think of the Taliban, this is a very informative book.
Malini L. Goculdas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

194 of 201 people found the following review helpful By Malini L. Goculdas on April 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, written by a Pakistani journalist, takes us inside Afghanistan and the Taliban. The author's deep knowledge of the land - its terrain and people - is impressive. I must say the history of Afghanistan is quite interesting, not to mention the wide variety of ethnic groups that I never knew existed. From a land of high art and culture in Buddist times, Afghanistan has devolved to its present state of lawlessness. Far from being a simplistic, organic development, the rise of the Islamic Fundamentalist movement in this country has complex origins, location and history being key factors. I found the pace of writing clear and engaging. Whatever you may think of the Taliban, this is a very informative book. Highly recommended.
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140 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Sergei Ivanovich on September 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ahmed Rashid's book "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and the Fundamentalism in Central Asia" is an excellent book for those who would like to understand the Taliban, its background, rise to power as well as US and Pakistan's support of the fundamentalist regime. Published in 2000, it is a very timely book given the tragedy of the World Trade Center plane attacks on September 11th.
The main factor contributing to the strength of the book is Rashid's extensive access to Afghanistan and key players who have shaped the policy of the country. He has spent the better portion of the last 21 years in the country and knows it intimately. Although himself Pakistani, he is very critical of his country's role (and that of the the United States)in nurturing the most radical elements in the Afghan opposition that fought the Soviet Union in the 1980's as well as the Taliban. The most important chapter of the book for our purposes today is Chapter 10 which deals with the rise of Osama bin Laden in the context of the Afghan-Soviet war and US/Pakistani support of the opposition.
Rashid explains in detail American support for the ISI's involvement in drug trafficking as a means to raise money for the anti-Soviet resistance. He laments the American-Pakistani practice of consistent and unwavering support for the most radical elements in the Afghan opposition, virtually ignoring the more moderate opposition. The result: thousands of radical Muslims, armed and trained by The US and Pakistan, sparking "holy wars" against countries deemed anti-Muslim. As I re-read the book after the terrible attack on the US on September 11th, I couldn't help but be disappointed with the lack of foresight the United States policy-makers had in supporting these radicals.
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105 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Nichomachus on August 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Rashid is successful in collating a massive amount of information into a well-organized, readable book. Although at times journalistic, with glib analysis at the end of his quasi-historical recitation, this book gives a thorough accounting of all the players and interests that have brought Afghanistan to where it is today. It is useful as a single volume that recounts the rise of the Taliban that is concise and clear. Rashid is a veteran journalist who has covered Afghanistan for years. His connections and interviews from all aspects of Afghani politics and society give the book a depth that as been hard for other books to accomplish.
Sources and appendices are excellent. The organization of the book is in three main parts: 1) 'History of the Taliban Movement,' which is a useful recounting of the Taliban's rise in a chronological fashion. The five chapters each represent one year; 2) 'Islam and the Taliban' explores the origin and nature of the Taliban in thought and practice in the context of other Muslim movements, how it is organized, how it functions in making decisions, and how it administers policy socially and militarily; 3) 'The New Great Game' treats all of the international actors' behaviors and motivations, and the consequences for Afghanistan.
Although his perspectives of all of the relevant actors -the Taliban, the anti-Taliban factions, the UN, regional countries, Western powers, oil companies, Russia- are undeniably put forth for the reader, they only enhance the educational value of the book. Rashid is highly successful in imparting the motivations and values of all the ethnic and religious tensions in Afghani society, and their interlinkages (and the consequent perspectives and involvement of foreign nations with the various contending forces).
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By M. Mcfarland on September 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Very few, I doubt, will be disappointed with Rashid's latest offering - especially those wanting an in depth look at why bombing Afghanistan is unlikely to be successful in the war against terrorism.
I read Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia (UK version) when it first came out in early 2000 and found it extremely thought provoking. I read it again after the New York bombings and now believe it is the best intro on the market.
His analysis is prefect for the international reader trying to get to grips with an unknown entity. It should be. He's a very well respected South Asia journalist and one of the few who've actually been there since day the Soviet tanks rolled in. His contacts in the region are unparalleled.
To be sure, everyone comes out of this book looking bad - in particular the Saudis, the Pakistani government's of Zia-ul-Haq/Bhutto(s) and the United States. You're left feeling extremely sorry for the ordinary Afghani who has been a pawn in a grotesque game of chess played between the major powers for as long as anyone can remember. But domestic history and tribal rivalries also play a huge part.
As the title suggests, there are three parts to the book. To set the stage, Rashid gives a detailed account of Afghanistan's miserable history since the revolution in 1973. It details bitter infighting between various tribal and religious groups in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal, the civil war that ensued when President Najibullah was deposed and the rise of the Taliban out of religious schools in Pakistan. It's ugly, full of horrifying images and not in the least bit afraid of telling the story as he saw it, right there in front of his eyes.
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