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Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field (Columbia/Hurst) 0th Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231701129
ISBN-10: 0231701128
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Editorial Reviews


A valuable collection... [that] offer[s] important clues that could help to answer some of the most pressing foreign policy questions now confronting the Obama administration.

(David Rhode The New Republic)

This well-researched book contains valuable insight on the command and control of the Taliban.

(Military Review)

Decoding the New Taliban is a serious and comprehensive collection of essays written by authorities on their subject matter that will directly benefit those who find themselves on the ground with the Afghan people and among the still evolving Neo-Taliban.

(John Williams Middle East Quarterly 1900-01-00)

An outstanding and important collection -- just the sort of locally specific, openly debatable, scholarly analysis... that will be required more and more if the international community is ever to understand the insurgents... as up-to-date as scholarship can be

(The New Yorker)


Antonio Giustozzi draws together an excellent collection of perceptive essays from eminent and distinguished contributors. Focusing on developments in diverse Afghan localities ensures that there is much in the volume that is novel and instructive for both specialists and general readers.

(William Maley, author of Rescuing Afghanistan)

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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia/Hurst
  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (October 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231701128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231701129
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,641,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is unique and brilliant, I haven't been able to thoroughly read the book because so many others have been borrowing the piece to use as analysis.
Anyone serving in the military and/or studying the new emerging Taliban political force, this book is a must. This book is not the same old string information, it offers a descriptive breakdown of factions.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm currently serving a 12-month tour in Afghanistan, and will return after an 18-month stateside break. I had read a few other books on the Taliban in preparation for this deployment, but this book is the best by far. I agree with DD Lawrence's comment about it being a good source for analysts hoping to get a better understanding of this group. I wish I could read all of what was left out of the book, but I'm hoping for another one by the time I prepare for my return. I plan on purchasing a few more copies to pass out to some of my colleagues in other provinces. Strongly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
"Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field" by Antonio Giustozzi (editor); (2009), English, hardback, 318 pgs. An anthology of 14 articles by various authors: Introduction by A. Giustozzi; (1) The Taliban and the Opium Trade by G. S. Peters; (2) Reading the Taliban [local magazines, communications, suicide attacks] by J. Nathan; (3) The Resurgence of the Taliban in Kabul: Logar and Wardak [attacks on the 275 schools] by M. O.T. Elias; (4i) Loya Paktia's Insurgency: The Haqqani Network as an Autonomous Entity by T. Ruttig; (4ii) Roots of the insurgency in the Southeast by S. Trives; (5) The Return of the Taliban in Andar District: Ghazni by C. Reuter & B. Younus; (6) the Taliban in Helmand: an oral history by T. Coghlan; (7) Unruly Commanders and Violent Power Struggles: Taliban Networks in Uruzgan by M.van Bijlert; (8) Taliban in Zabul by A.A. Zabulwal; (9) What Kandahar's Taliban Say [how to interview Taliban] by Graeme Smith; (10) The Taliban's Marches: Heart, Farah, Baghdis and Ghor by A. Giustozzi; (11) Taliban and Counter-Insurgency in Kunar by D. Kilcullen; (12) Northern Exposure for the Taliban by S. A. Moghaddam; (13) The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan by C. Franco; & glossary. Much of the data/discussion in this book is from 2007-2008. Contains a lot of tight, relevant, informative writing - not verbose editorialization.
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Format: Hardcover
Together with the editor's earlier Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan 2002-2007 (Columbia/Hurst), this collection of essays is essential reading for anybody seeking an in-depth understanding of the insurgency in Afghanistan today. The thirteen essays by different authors - who are mostly journalists or NGO members who have developed linkages to the Taliban and associated/aligned groups such as the Haqqani Movement and Hizb-I Islami - provide comprehensive yet accessible and straightforward analysis of the organisational features and leadership traits of the insurgency across Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas - of these essays, there is only one I would consider as less than excellent writing and analysis (and even that chapter is still very good). Each essay has a regional (single province or cluster of provinces) focus and the authors do offer divergent views on key issues - is the insurgency purely a Pashtun phenomenon, is accommodation with the Taliban possible, what is the relative importance to the insurgency of "Tier 2" insurgents - but the comprehensive analysis and arguments used to arrive at these diverse conclusions are emblematic of the different perspectives of the authors and add enormous value to the work. As to the accuracy, a few chapters discuss personalities, organisations and events I became intimately familiar with on a previous deployment - these chapters are not only entirely accurate, but provide additional insight that I desperately wished for at the time.

If you are interested in (or really need to know about) the Taliban and associated/aligned forces in Afghanistan today, "Decoding The New Taliban" cannot be recommended too highly. If you know nothing about Afghanistan however, it is not the best place to start.
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