Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid


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Textbook (Paperback)

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( 25 customer ratings )

  • 294pp


  • ISBN-13: 9780300089028
  • Pub. Date: February 2001
  • Publisher:Yale University Press
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Product Details

  • Pub. Date: February 2001
  • Publisher:Yale University Press
  • Format: Textbook Paperback, 294pp


Shrouding themselves and their aims in deepest secrecy, the leaders of the Taliban movement control Afghan-istan with an inflexible, crushing fundamentalism. The most extreme and radical of all Islamic organizations, the Taliban inspires fascination, controversy, and especially fear in both the Muslim world and the West. Correspondent Ahmed Rashid brings the shadowy world of the Taliban into sharp focus in this enormously interesting and revealing book. It is the only authoritative account of the Taliban and modern day Afghanistan available to English language readers.

Based on his experiences as a journalist covering the civil war in Afghanistan for twenty years, traveling and living with the Taliban, and interviewing most of the Taliban leaders since their emergence to power in 1994, Rashid offers unparalleled firsthand information. He explains how the growth of Taliban power has already created severe instability in Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and five Central Asian republics. He describes the Taliban' s role as a major player in a new "Great Game"—a competition among Western countries and companies to build oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to Western and Asian markets. The author also discusses the controversial changes in American attitudes toward the Taliban—from early support to recent bombings of Osama Bin Laden's hideaway and other Taliban-protected terrorist bases—and how they have influenced the stability of the region.


This book is the only thorough book-length study on the Taliban to date and sets them in the wider context of world politics. It covers not just the Taliban, but also the geo-politics of the region and controversial issues such as Islamic fundamentalism, Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban's treatment of women, the drug trade, and the oil politics of Central Asia.

The New York Times - Richard Bernstein

The broader story here is powerful. Mr. Rashid' s book is essentially a history of the destruction of one of the more ruggedly enduring Central Asia cultures. It depicts how Afghanistan, which survived the British-Russian Great Game of the 19th century, has been reduced to a fragmented, failed state in a vicious new Great Game at the end of the 20th.... One learns... a great deal from Mr. Rashid' s book about the nature of local Central Asian politics and the consequences of interference by outside powers.... [A] valuable and informative work."

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Ahmed Rashid is a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Daily Telegraph, reporting on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

Customer Reviews

Welcome Insight Into the Rise of the Talibanby JayHay

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September 27, 2010: This book offers a rare look inside the groups and personalities of Afghanistan's influential diaspora. While the Taliban is the focus of the book I enjoy Rashid's inclusion of all the groups that have shaped Afghanistan's recent history. The Pashtun tribes are the obvious focus of most Afghan books but he does an excellent job of integrating the Uzebk, Tajik and Hazara perspectives in Afghan politics. The vignettes of the brutality with which not just the Taliban but the other ethnic groups conducted operations against each other gives us the perspective that some militants are irreconcilable. But Rashid leaves open the possibility that the majority of the tribesmen may be amenable to a tepid peace. His exploration of all of the ethnic groups reveals an entrenched sense perpetual conflict, I think the challenge is translating their tendency for violent conflict into non-violent conflict. Overall a very well-written book; the second edition is an added treat with the inclusion of his perspectives on new developments. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in historical Afghan tribal relations, specifically in the years after the Soviet withdrawal up until 11 September 2001.

Excellent!by BenderHeel

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April 13, 2009: I just finished Ahmed Rashid's book and was blown away by it. Excellent writing with a thorough look into the world of the Taliban and the various politics and relationships involved in the Taliban's rise to power. Some of the information will make you cringe when reading it with the hindsight of the events that have unfolded in the region since Rashid wrote this in 1999, although it is still as influential today -- perhaps even moreso -- as the United States finally puts a full-court effort into the region to stablize it.

Also, I'm not sure how any of the past reviewers can critize the book for being difficult to read because of the foreign names and locales, as obviously that kind of information cannot be held against the author. I thought that the writing was great and flowed like a good narrative story. Further, when Rashid referred to the characters or places, he would provide the context so that the reader can recall who/what he is referring to. Finally, there are some very interesting and insightful appendices cataloging the leadership of the Taliban and just how uneducated and ignorant they are/were, as well as some of the laws that they passed.

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