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Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan Paperback – Illustrated, November 1, 2001
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“Soldiers of God is a thoughtful, insightful, highly readable book. Battlefield smart, rock solid.” —Dan Rather
“Affecting and informative. . . . [Kaplan] answer[s] a number of important political questions.” —The New Yorker
“[A] first-rate account. . . . [Kaplan’s] combination of firsthand war experience inside Afghanistan and extensive reporting . . . makes him sensitive to distinctions that often escaped even devoted promoters of the muj[ahidin].” —The Wall Street Journal
From the Publisher
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781400030255
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400030255
- Dimensions : 5.17 x 0.64 x 7.99 inches
- Publisher : Vintage; Illustrated edition (November 1, 2001)
- ASIN : 1400030250
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,254,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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More importantly, 'Soldiers of God' is a great insight into the tribal culture and mentality of the rugged mountain people. When you learn of their endurance and persistence in the face of massive obstacles, it seems little wonder that the behemoth US war machine is having so much trouble subduing the Taliban. The resourcefulness and mental fortitude of the Afghan people is amazing.
If only all journalists could report with such competence and objectivity.
Mr. Kaplan writes in an easily-readable format very appropriate for a journalist and correspondent. Many of the lines and information provided are delivered in a punchy manner that appropriately shocks and incenses when desired. I was able to casually read the book but not necessarily put it down, enjoying digesting the text. Not a criticism but more a personal frustration, I found myself infinitely eager to discover more texts such as this one, possibly viewing the same persons that Kaplan interviewed and traveled with at greater depth and in different perspectives.
I purchased this book based on the Marine Commandants reading list in addition to a slew of others off Amazon, and thus far every book has been thought-provoking and captivating.
During the 1980s Mr.Kaplan spent much time in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan with the mujahedeen, the Afghani Islamic guerrilla rebels who gave the Soviets such a hell of a fight. This book includes the background for the war, modern Afghani history, Afghani history during British imperial times, and even some legends. Also included is extended analysis of the main ethnic group in the resistance, the "Pathans" or "Pashtoons." They are a fierce and fearsome bunch, relentless, tribalist, entirely male-centric, whose members went on to form the Taliban. Mr.Kaplan spends much time with them and gets to know them fairly well.
The history and ethnography was new to me and interesting but my favorite parts of the book were the author's visits inside occupied Afghanistan with the mujahedeen. The sense of danger is palpable, from the ever present fear of land mines, Soviet gunships and tanks, to extreme hunger, heat and cold, and sickness. Mr.Kaplan is both brave and reckless, but determined to get this story out to the world (in his opinion this conflict was mostly ignored by the global media). Besides the accounts of these excursions what most grabbed my attention were his interviews with and descriptions of the guerrilla leaders and fighters. Kaplan is a skilled interviewer and human observer, and as a reader I really got a sense of who these fighting men were (the author encounters almost no woman in the resistance). The young and fiercely independent Abdul Haq, 29, so full of fury and determination, is a figure who will stay with me for a while to come.
This a great book, multifaceted: travel narrative, journalism piece, political analysis, history, ethnography. Read this book to learn about a harrowing and brutal conflict, to know about a people and a place that is of no small importance to the world. Without this war it is unlikely that a group like the Taliban would have come to exist. A powerful and engaging read, highly recommended.
Top reviews from other countries
しかしそこらへんはカプランなので自分をも含めて欧米人のオリエンタリズムを多方面から突いている。｢客観性が役に立たない地｣という異空間と化したペシャワールに集まる変人たちと無法地帯を巡る奇妙なファンタジー（武士の死に方をする為に来たという日本人も登場する）、軍閥同士の力関係、パキスタンの不穏な思惑、崩壊する国境、実は潔く撤退などしていなかったソ連軍etc、現場でしか見られない風景が生々しく伝わってくる。アナーキー化する中央アジア、というのは『Eastward to Tartary』に繋がるテーマ。世界は広い、と日本人は素直に唖然として読むしかない。