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Thread: Book Recommendations

  1. #1
    Regular Traxus's Avatar
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    Book Recommendations

    After casting aimlessly about the internet for possible books, I figure I might as well go here since this sort of thing is right up your collective alley.

    Books about the Taleban and mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan (and Pakistan). More specifically:

    A history of Afghanistan during the war against the Soviets
    Afghan civil war and the rise of the Taliban
    Ongoing war in Afghanistan
    Opium trade
    International relations of the mujahideen/taliban. Particularly with Pakistan and Iran
    The rise of extremism in Pakistan, and the civil war being fought there

    Up to date, military focused works get the emphasis, but I could also probably use some more general history. Any suggestions?


    *********

    As well, how do you guys feel about making this a general book thread? I didn't check the archives so maybe one already exists, but if anyone wants to discuss books about the "war on terrorism" in general, then feel free. Books are pretty well a required tool to understand conflicts in my opinion, and a lot of the good ones can be obscure making a forum a great place to get book ideas.
    Last edited by Traxus; 21 Feb 09, at 00:31.
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    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
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    Not that this necessarily means these are the best books to get on Afghanistan, but here's what resides on my shelves. It's been 6-7 years since I've scanned/read the first three (I bought them in anticipation of participating in OEF, then OIF popped up and these became OBE for me). The latter books have been added over the past year and I haven't had a chance to dig into them except for Kabul Beauty School. While it won't provide you info on military actions, it will provide a narrow glimpse into the culture and ethic divides that exist, and so it's not a bad one to read even if it seems like it should only be on an Oprah Club reading list.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bear-Went-Over...5183082&sr=8-2

    http://www.amazon.com/Soviet-Afghan-...ref=pd_sim_b_1

    http://www.amazon.com/Afghan-Guerril...d_bxgy_b_img_b

    http://www.amazon.com/Taliban-Milita...ref=pd_sim_b_6

    http://www.amazon.com/Punishment-Vir...5183166&sr=1-8

    http://www.amazon.com/Three-Cups-Tea...ref=pd_sim_b_6

    http://www.amazon.com/Kabul-Beauty-S...ef=pd_sim_b_15
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Regular Traxus's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot Shek for the recommendations. "A Peace to End All Peace" seems particularly interesting, and as a bonus its available at my local library.
    Smells like napalm, tastes like chicken!

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    Antonio Giustozzi's "Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan" is an excellent primer on the Taliban and a quick read. The book focuses on the factors contributing to the Taliban's resurgence and contains an in depth analysis of the Taliban's organizational structure and strategy. Giustozzi also included a chapter on counterinsurgency, but it seemed rushed to me and I found it somewhat lacking. Nevertheless, there's more than enough here to make it worth the effort.

    http://www.amazon.com/Koran-Kalashni...5609506&sr=8-1

    David Kilcullen's "The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One" is also a good place to start. I just picked it up this week, and while I haven't finished it yet, I'm far enough along to know its a classic.

    http://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Gue...5611569&sr=1-1

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    Good titles

    Traxus- If you want the Bear went over the mountain or its counter-part the other side of the mountain, I have them on pdf and would be willing to email them to you. I haven't had time to read them yet but I have them.

    I highly recommend The Accidental Guerrilla. I am going to review on my blog next month, but I think it is one of the defining texts on current security affairs.

    I also love Three Cups of Tea for a radical approach to security issues in AfPak.

    If you want insight into Afghan culture then the books of Khaled Hosseini "A thousand splendid suns" and "the Kite Runner" are excellent. They don't describe the history but do an excellent job of describing the culture.

    Finally, for insight into the Islamic mind, which both of these countries are, I recommend the Crisis of Islam by Bernard Lewis.

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    Regular Countezero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traxus View Post
    Thanks a lot Shek for the recommendations. "A Peace to End All Peace" seems particularly interesting, and as a bonus its available at my local library.
    I'm reading that book right now. Amazing. Would love to know what you think of particular parts.

    If we're talking current trends in terror, I don't think there is a better book that explains what we're facing now than The Far Enemey: Why Jihad went Global.

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    'A Different Kind of War' - The New York Times

    “A Different Kind of War” is the first installment of the Army’s official history of the war in Afghanistan, covering the period from October 2001 to September 2005. Written by a team of seven historians at the Army’s Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and based on open source material, it is scheduled to be published by spring. The New York Times obtained a copy of the manuscript, which is still under review by current and former military officials.

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    All new Senior Contributor sohamsri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
    Finally, for insight into the Islamic mind, which both of these countries are, I recommend the Crisis of Islam by Bernard Lewis.
    Another book I found good for a similar purpose was "God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad" - Charles Allen.
    " THe SiLEnt KNighT.

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