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Breeding Ground: Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamist Terrorism Hardcover – January 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Deepak Tripathi’s third book . . . is a political-military history of modern Afghanistan that’s sharp and to the point."—Palestine Chronicle
(Palestine Chronicle 2011-02-14)

“In his concise yet powerful book, [Tripathi] details the interlocking decisions and strategies that inflamed the conflict and produced a new and dangerous historical context.”—Foreign Policy Journal
(Foreign Policy Journal 2011-03-21)

“The Afghanistan killing fields threaten to become for President Obama what Vietnam’s were for President Johnson: a political death trap both for Americans and their European allies. No one has better explained the making of this situation than Deepak Tripathi in this book. A long-time BBC correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tripathi not only dealt every day with the tribalism and poppy growing that now rule the Afghans, but has also exploited newly released Russian, British, and U.S. documents to provide a superb, if sometimes terrifying, historical context—including Ronald Reagan’s massive help to those who are now killing American soldiers. Tripathi’s work should be read by anyone who hopes to understand this tragedy.”—Walter LaFeber, historian, formerly the Andrew H. and James S. Tisch Distinguished University Professor at Cornell University
(Walter LaFeber 2010-03-02)

“Deepak Tripathi’s penetrating analysis of the Afghan tragedy comes at just the right time, when the United States is becoming more deeply embroiled in an impossible situation. He approaches the Afghan puzzle with a judicious historical perspective that clarifies the way in which hysteria about terrorism continues to obscure the truth about U.S. policy, the Taliban, and the suffering people of Afghanistan. I wish this book could be put in the hands of President Obama and his advisers. It would be a sobering corrective to self-delusion. Failing that, we can only hope that a better-informed public, educated by books like this one, will demand a change.”—Howard Zinn, professor emeritus, Boston University, and author of A People’s History of the United States
(Howard Zinn 2010-03-02)

“A book for anyone who wants to understand Afghanistan’s transformation from a relatively tolerant and peaceful tribal setting to a society ridden by a ‘culture of violence’ through the agency of external actors. Tripathi offers an array of unique and valuable insights into both the local processes and global forces that have conspired to devastating effect on the country since the 1970s. This authoritative account combines the experience of a journalist stationed in the country with the archival savvy of a veteran researcher.”—Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, associate professor of history, James Madison University
(Shah Mahmoud Hanifi 2010-03-02)

“In this incredibly well-documented book, Deepak Tripathi describes in painful detail the sufferings of the Afghan peoples at the hands of those who are playing the Grand Chess Game—above all the Russians, the Americans, and the British—for their own selfish, anti-Muslim reasons (they would have not done all that to a Christian country in Europe). There can be only one conclusion to this shocking book: Hands off Afghanistan, and if help is needed, then from people to people, not via violent and corrupt governments.”—Johan Galtung, founding director, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, and founder, TRANSCEND International, a Network for Peace and Development
(Johan Galtung 2010-03-02)

About the Author

DEEPAK TRIPATHI, PhD, FRHistS, is a British historian and former journalist whose career (1974–2000) was spent primarily with the BBC, where he was a correspondent, editor, and commentator. In the early 1990s, Tripathi set up the BBC bureau in Kabul and was the resident correspondent in Afghanistan. He has also reported from Syria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. He is the author of Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan and Breeding Ground: Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamist Terrorism. Tripathi received his PhD from the University of Roehampton, where he is an honorary research fellow. He lives near London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597975303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597975308
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,579,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Wilfred Cude on February 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Deepak Tripathi, a former BBC journalist with years of covering Afghanistan and the adjacent nations, offers a thoroughly-documented, insightful and ultimately disturbing analysis of the development and proliferation of terrorism within and beyond that troubled region. Beginning with a Soviet-sponsored coup in 1973, Tripathi traces the ever-widening spiral downwards into an all-pervasive "culture of violence" engulfing Afghanistan and converting that unhappy country into a "breeding ground" of terrorism spawning 9/11 and the international tragedies thereafter.
Once a succession of coups drew the Soviet military deeper into Afghanistan, the American administrations of Carter and Reagan sustained an ever-expanding covert operation supporting the Mujahideen resistance, giving the USSR "its Vietnam war." After ten years of what Mikhail Gorbachev called "the bleeding wound," the Soviets withdrew, leaving behind a "toxic environment" nurturing "a culture of terror." A lethal combination thereafter of Pakistani meddling, the involvement of Osama bin Laden, the ascendency of the Taliban, and the horror of 9/11 demonstrated how the shattered nationa fabric yielded the world of terrorism we now inhabit. Ironically, as Tripathi shows, the same forces defeating the Soviets are now arrayed against America and NATO: we westerners have blundered into the same Afghanistan trap we first set for others. Instead of replaying the Soviet scenario to inevitable defeat, Tripathi urges recognition of "the futility of counterinsurgency," and a recourse to undercutting Afghani corruption ande building a genuine Afghani democracy.
The message here is absolutely essential for America and the NATO allies to grasp, but resistance to it will regrettably be fierce.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On September 11, 2001, the narrative of the world’s history turned a page to a dark chapter as fear struck a nation whose citizens believed to be impenetrable. The images of civilian planes colliding into tangible symbols of American prosperity and security forever altered the mindset of an entire generation that had never before seen such a resounding attack on their nation, the greatest in the world. As a new decade emerged, so did a new enemy, an enemy comprised of strong-minded individuals who would give up their own lives to systematically take away those of Judeo-Christian likeness in the name of their own faith systems and ideologies. But how ‘new’ exactly was this enemy and how did the world’s superpowers, including the United States, play a role in the indirect formation of this enemy decades before the commencement of a “Global War on Terror”? In Breeding Ground, former BBC journalist Deepak Tripathi investigates the reasons for the ancient kingdom of Afghanistan turning into a hotbed for the formation of violent militias that eventually developed into the terror that is boundlessly battled today. Tripathi focuses heavily on the Soviet-Afghan conflict and intellectually advocates for not only a shift away from America’s militant approach to Middle Eastern issues, but a united effort to promote development and adequate reconciliation to the war-torn region.
Tripathi’s main objectives are to explore the reasons the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States came about as well as to determine to what effect the Soviet-Afghan conflict had on to development of the dark phenomenon of terrorism the world knows of today.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Deepak Tripathi's new book is an excellent contribution to the debate over policy choices with respect to Afghanistan. Tripathi offers an indepth look at the modern history of the country and presents essential background towards understanding the roots of the conflict and the links to Islamic terrorism. Without such an in depth understanding policy makers run the risk of repeating the pitfalls of Soviet policy in Afghanistan.

I have written a comprehensive review of the book, which was published at the Foreign Policy Journal.. That review is also available above in the editorial reviews.

David Hillstrom
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