- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (June 24, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300178840
- ISBN-13: 978-0300178845
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,225,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Taliban Revival: Violence and Extremism on the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier Hardcover – June 24, 2014
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'A comprehensive, wise, and highly readable assessment of how mistaken policy choices have led to the revival of the Taliban. Hassan Abbas, one of the world's leading experts on the region, shows how regional powers, donor nations, and NATO have pursued their own narrow, short-term interests in the region, often to the detriment of the Afghan people. The result is that Afghanistan still lacks the schools and law-enforcement personnel that are required to fight the distorted version of Islam, and the crime, that the Taliban spreads. Anyone interested in the Taliban and south-west Asia will be saddened, fascinated, and instructed.' - Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religios Militants Kill
'Hassan Abbas is one of the world's leading experts on the militant groups of South Asia. InThe Taliban Revival he charts the resurgence of the Taliban on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The book is well written, deeply researched, analytically sharp and is an important contribution to our understanding of the Taliban.' - Peter Bergen, author ofManhunt: From 9/11 to Abbottabad - The Ten-Year Search for Osama bin Laden
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For those interested in security matters in Afghanistan and Pakistan - and that should include our Pentagon, State Department and White House - Dr. Abbas is a national security treasure. While I do not know him personally, his book about the Taliban revival is that rare combination of deep geopolitical expertise and clear English narrative. For the reader, he begins by posing a mystery: how could the Taliban, thoroughly defeated physically and psychologically in 2001, regain power and fight to a standstill in American military that invested hundreds of billions of dollars and 100,000 well-trained troops? Dr. Abbas then proceeds, chapter by chapter, to solve the mystery by educating the reader in the complicated post-1960s histories of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This book is a credit to the National Defense University for employing Dr. Abbas and encouraging research and writing that positively contributes to a deeper understanding of a critical and complex subject. Yale University Press is also to be congratulated for editing and publishing a clear and expert contribution to our geopolitical knowledge.
- Bing West
The proper way to learn history is read multiple books by different authors on the same topics. This book will definitely come off as superficial to people who have invested a serious effort into learning about this war and who have read other publications on the topics. Many people who will likely browse this page will already be familiar with the excellent books "Taliban" by Ahmed Rashid, and Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban by Saleem Shazad. With regards to the rise of the Taliban during the 90's, the greater scope of international and regional competition in Afghanistan, the history of IGO/NGO aid and relations in the country, this book is not even close to the level of detail, facts, and investigative quality in Ahmed Rashid's book. I very strongly disagree with another reviewer's claim that this book shed light on Al Qaeda's role in shaping Afghanistan's and Pakistan's recent history. There is, at best, a page's worth of information on Al Qaeda, and it is not that much more information than what even the most casual of news followers or readers will have already known. Saleem Shazad's book is an extremely good read on this specific topic, and while Taliban Revival at least discusses some 90's Taliban history relative to Rashid's book, Shazad's book reveals that Abbas doesn't even touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of Al Qaeda's post 9/11 role in Afghanistan/Pakistani history and conflict.
I am also aware of the rise of the Taliban from 2006-2009 and the American surge that was meant to regain the initiative and put Afghanistan on a positive trajectory. While Abbas does justice to Stanley McChrystal's historical Initial Commander's Assessment, the reader will not really get an idea of just how bad things got in Afghanistan or just how much of the country the Taliban was able to control or influence. In terms of the gains made by the surge, the author has a single line that addresses that progress. I feel the author did a great job in discussion Pakistan's conflicts, ceasefires, and increasingly violent trends, but Afghanistan wise in terms of the Taliban's rise and the American surge, arguably the most decisive part of the war, I felt it was lacking tremendously.
The book's best chapter is the drivers of conflict chapter, that discusses Afghanistan's greater economic issues and challenges to implementing legitimate and effective governance. This is information that is usually not discussed in more mainstream accounts or narratives in understanding Afghanistan's long term issues. However in terms of security the author makes a fatal flaw by listing spectacular attacks conducted by the Taliban as evidence of their success. In counterinsurgency wars, or history in a greater sense, listing individual tactical events doesn't necessarily translate into a trend at the aggregate level, even if the list appears to be long. In fact, the author has done just what the Taliban would have wanted to him have done. High profile attacks are meant to indicate relevance, but on a strategic level don't mean as much. The primary metric for success in counterinsurgency/insurgency is the degree of control to which a party has over a territory in order to administrate it and the degree to which it can effectively secure the compliance of its constituents within that territory. Just because the Taliban can launch a well coordinated shooting ambush or suicide attack in Kabul doesn't mean they are able to challenge the Afghan government's ability to retain its monopoly on the use of force in Kabul itself 24/7. That particular metric is hard to find in detail, but the overwhelming trend is that ISAF and the GIROA were seizing and consistently administering territory from 2010 onwards, territory that had been lost before as the Taliban were resurgent from 2006-2009.
This book also suffers a lot from having many sentences that are in the form of conclusions and declarations. One way to put it is that in many paragraphs in this book there is more "telling" than "showing", something that the more academically and scholarly oriented reader will find repeatedly disappointing.
Bottom line, a good book for the generalist or for those who have never read deeply into these topics, but for those with experience with other publications on these topics, it may fill in some gaps in knowledge but won't be the most significant learning experience.
Most recent customer reviews
“The Taliban Revival” by Hassan Abbas is a fascinating glimpse into the recent history of both Pakistan and Afghanistan and...Read more