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War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet 2nd Edition

88 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415934688
ISBN-10: 0415934680
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beginning with the premise that South Asia is one of the most combustible regions on the planet (a 1993 CIA study rated Kashmir as the most likely place for a nuclear war to begin), veteran foreign correspondent Margolis goes poking around the region, wondering where the spark will originate, discussing Afghanistan (especially the heavy American and Pakistani involvement in the area), the border conflicts in Kashmir and Siachen between India and Pakistan, and China's occupation of Tibet, which he sees as a model for how China might come into bloody conflict with India. The book is good on military issues and useful as a primer for the uninitiated, especially on the way that British, American and Russian policies have fueled the arms and territory battles in Afghanistan and on what India's and Pakistan's battling has cost them in lost social and economic development. But the author's fondness for generalities and potted psychologizing can be wearying: Muslim Kashmiris are "a haughty lot," Sikhs are known for their "love of revenge," the leaders of the Afghan Army suffer from a "deficit in human talent that afflicts so many backward societies." Margolis even devotes a page to the proposition that Hindu anti-Muslim sentiment is partly due to Hindus feeling sexually inferior to Muslims since Islam "encourages a robust sex life" and some Indians believe that Muslims are better lovers because they are circumcised. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Having reported for years from the Khyber Pass and the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges, journalist Margolis here distills his experience with the geopolitics of this forbidding region. To outsiders, it might seem perplexing that Pakistan, India, and China should have fought wars over uninhabitable mountains, a bewilderment Margolis dispels by explaining the stakes in Kashmir and Tibet as viewed from Islamabad, New Delhi, and Beijing. It may seem bizarre that the battlefield, at 16,000 feet of elevation, is on the Siachen Glacier, where hypoxic, frostbitten Indians and Pakastinis regularly lob shells at each other. The author's explanation makes it more understandable strategically, for he who controls the glacier controls the only Pakistan-China road. Convinced that Hindu-Muslim animosities will again erupt in war, Margolis describes the tension between China and India, played out in their nascent nuclear and naval arms races. Combining vignettes of his travels (including to Lhasa) with strategic summaries, Margolis usefully draws attention to hot spots some believe are the most likely to set off a nuclear war. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (March 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415934680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415934688
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,632,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brasidas on December 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Eric Margolis has written a book of tumultuous ethnic, political and religious conflict in the border regions of China, India, Pakistan, India and Tibet that rivals the tectonic majesty of the Himalayas. Although his book is short, it is an intense, detailed read of the a region in which the world's two most populous nations border, and three of the world's nuclear powers contend for regional survival and dominance.
The first part of the book focuses on Afghanistan and "the bravest men on earth." While I think that the veterans of Iwo Jima, Inchon and the Normandy invasion might have a claim or two to that title, Margolis nonetheless paints a convincing picture of tough, determined fighters bound by strict codes of honor and rivers of tribal blood. The explanations of the Great Jihad and how the defeat of the Soviet Union has dissipated the focus, and thus the forces, of the struggle against "Satan #1" have led to the present spread of militant Islam (not unlike the 7th and 8th centuries AD) are clairvoyant. While it would overstate the claim that our current war stems directly from the conflict termination of the Russo-Afghan War of the 1980's, there are strong causal ties. Margolis further accurately captures the very circumstances of controlled chaos and weak to non existent government that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qeada criminals look to exploit, whether in eastern Indonesia, southern Philippines, Afghanistan, Lebanon or eastern Africa.
After this opening section, Margolis turns his attention to another, more serious upheaval and potential for conflict with not just religious ideologies, but nuclear weapons.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Williams on July 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
First a couple of simple observations.
I found the book as a search of the library stacks in the tibet section. i buy almost all my books online. but i believe everyone ought to just take an hour or so each week just to skim their favorite sections of the library. this was a gem i would never have bumped into online....
on other reviewers here. this is a book that an Indian(india) would find offensive at first reading. he does not pull punches about ethnicity and its history, but this is one of the best features of the book. i hope they can see the heart that it comes from and not the surface level of words. an example would be the description of the internal Indian airlines.
Now to the book.
Its about Afganistan, Pakistan, India, and Tibet. In particular the wars and the people who fight them in this region. the author is a very unusual man, extraordinary in several ways. first his english is journalist, fast paced, honed obviously to write pieces that compete for a newpaper readers attention. Pithy in using one word where another writer would use three. a very visual writer with an imagination and a view to vivid word descriptions that is very good. He would have been as good a novelist as he is a journalist. This really acts to the book and makes the reading a great pleasure.
The topic is a timely one, even given the 2000 date on the book, or the research dating back even longer. The author is knowledgable about the area, passionate about the people and the topic, not afraid to express unpopular opinions. Organized and systematic enough that you feel that you have learned and shared his learning/passion/study. Generally simply the best of the genre.
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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Peter Alphonse on July 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
As one ploughs through this book, one cannot but conclude that Mr. Margolis does not even know his geography, so important at least in a mountain region. A major faux pas is in the chapters narrating his visit to the Siachen Glacier, a region I'm particularly familiar with. Mr.Margolis has clearly been led up the garden path by the Pakistani officials and officers he came in contact with. This is especially evident in his description of travels through Baltistan with one Captain Aziz of the Pakistan Army.
Amusingly, Mr. Margolis believes that Mount K2 and Godwin Austin are two different peaks (enough to put off anyone from the mountain-climbing fraternity from the book). More amazingly, in two days, over atrocious roads, he seems to cover the greater part of the conflict areas of Baltistan, including Kargil and Siachen. In this dream journey, Captain Aziz and Margolis leave Skardu at dawn and cross Gol and Khapalu before lunch. After an afternoon nap, they drive along the Shyok river on an atrocious dirt track till they reach the crest of the Ladakh range from where he gets a glimpse of Kargil. The author then makes the interesting observation that from Kargil a road leads on to the Nubra Valley. Thereafter, the drive takes them over the "Bila fond Pass" (sic) at 15,600 feet, followed by a night halt in "a demented village". The next day's drive is again over a terrible dirt track which leads the two adventurers to the army base at Dansam at the "foot of the mighty Siachen Glacier a 50 mile river of ice". Here, of course, he meets his companion of old days, Colonel Youssef, a strapping Pathan from Peshawar who reminiscences about Skendberg, Albania (the country of the author's mother).
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