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Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad

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In this powerful book, David B. Edwards traces the lives of three recent Afghan leaders in Afghanistan's history--Nur Muhammad Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin Waqad--to explain how the promise of progress and prosperity that animated Afghanistan in the 1960s crumbled and became the present tragedy of discord, destruction, and despair. Before Taliban builds on the fou In this powerful book, David B. Edwards traces the lives of three recent Afghan leaders in Afghanistan's history--Nur Muhammad Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin Waqad--to explain how the promise of progress and prosperity that animated Afghanistan in the 1960s crumbled and became the present tragedy of discord, destruction, and despair. Before Taliban builds on the foundation that Edwards laid in his previous book, Heroes of the Age, in which he examines the lives of three significant figures of the late nineteenth century--a tribal khan, a Muslim saint, and a prince who became king of the newly created state. In the mid twentieth century, Afghans believed their nation could be a model of economic and social development that would inspire the world. Instead, political conflict, foreign invasion, and civil war have left the country impoverished and politically dysfunctional. Each of the men Edwards profiles were engaged in the political struggles of the country's recent history. They hoped to see Afghanistan become a more just and democratic nation. But their visions for their country were radically different, and in the end, all three failed and were killed or exiled. Now, Afghanistan is associated with international terrorism, drug trafficking, and repression. Before Taliban tells these men's stories and provides a thorough analysis of why their dreams for a progressive nation lie in ruins while the Taliban has succeeded. In Edwards's able hands, this culturally informed biography provides a mesmerizing and revealing look into the social and cultural contexts of political change.


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In this powerful book, David B. Edwards traces the lives of three recent Afghan leaders in Afghanistan's history--Nur Muhammad Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin Waqad--to explain how the promise of progress and prosperity that animated Afghanistan in the 1960s crumbled and became the present tragedy of discord, destruction, and despair. Before Taliban builds on the fou In this powerful book, David B. Edwards traces the lives of three recent Afghan leaders in Afghanistan's history--Nur Muhammad Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin Waqad--to explain how the promise of progress and prosperity that animated Afghanistan in the 1960s crumbled and became the present tragedy of discord, destruction, and despair. Before Taliban builds on the foundation that Edwards laid in his previous book, Heroes of the Age, in which he examines the lives of three significant figures of the late nineteenth century--a tribal khan, a Muslim saint, and a prince who became king of the newly created state. In the mid twentieth century, Afghans believed their nation could be a model of economic and social development that would inspire the world. Instead, political conflict, foreign invasion, and civil war have left the country impoverished and politically dysfunctional. Each of the men Edwards profiles were engaged in the political struggles of the country's recent history. They hoped to see Afghanistan become a more just and democratic nation. But their visions for their country were radically different, and in the end, all three failed and were killed or exiled. Now, Afghanistan is associated with international terrorism, drug trafficking, and repression. Before Taliban tells these men's stories and provides a thorough analysis of why their dreams for a progressive nation lie in ruins while the Taliban has succeeded. In Edwards's able hands, this culturally informed biography provides a mesmerizing and revealing look into the social and cultural contexts of political change.

30 review for Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad

  1. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad T

    This is a good book to understand the emerge of Taliban in Afghanistan. Based on the life history of three prominent Afghan leaders, Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin, the book describes the events in Afghanistan before and after the Marxist Revolution. Here you will see the importance of genealogy in Afghan society and why at the end the Marxist revolution failed. As the Afghan movements (Marxist or Islamic) started from Kabul University, the Taliban also started from the Islamic schools (M This is a good book to understand the emerge of Taliban in Afghanistan. Based on the life history of three prominent Afghan leaders, Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin, the book describes the events in Afghanistan before and after the Marxist Revolution. Here you will see the importance of genealogy in Afghan society and why at the end the Marxist revolution failed. As the Afghan movements (Marxist or Islamic) started from Kabul University, the Taliban also started from the Islamic schools (Madrasa) in Peshawar, Pakistan. Most of them never saw the homeland and they invaded Afghanistan after a long conflict between the Mujahedeen factions post Soviet occupation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hafsa

    Powerful and heartbreaking anthropological/historical account of Afghanistan in the years right before the Soviet occupation and the rise of the Taliban. Through the biographies of three men representing three different phases---the communist takeover, the local/tribal resistance, and the jihadist resistance, we are taken on a journey that explores te themes of religion, nation, and tribe. Edwards humanizes the stories of these moments--their motivations, their rise, their struggles, and eventua Powerful and heartbreaking anthropological/historical account of Afghanistan in the years right before the Soviet occupation and the rise of the Taliban. Through the biographies of three men representing three different phases---the communist takeover, the local/tribal resistance, and the jihadist resistance, we are taken on a journey that explores te themes of religion, nation, and tribe. Edwards humanizes the stories of these moments--their motivations, their rise, their struggles, and eventually their downfall. His discussion of the in-fighting between the different Islamist groups based out of Pakistan is fascinating and extremely relevant.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Van

    Perhaps Afghanistan's greatest irony is that the Marxist revolution ended with the Taliban takeover. So much for a progressive view of history.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Khalid Mahbub

    A fascinating and insider account of the complex and devilishly complicated end-stage to the events that made possible the German unification, end of the Iron Curtain along with the destruction of the Soviet Union. For no trivial reason is Afghanistan aptly named the Empire's Graveyard. Just as the beginning of 20th century Europe cannot be avoided by a student of contemporary history (bringing about the end of centuries old European colonialism and the unimaginable cruelties to the peoples of t A fascinating and insider account of the complex and devilishly complicated end-stage to the events that made possible the German unification, end of the Iron Curtain along with the destruction of the Soviet Union. For no trivial reason is Afghanistan aptly named the Empire's Graveyard. Just as the beginning of 20th century Europe cannot be avoided by a student of contemporary history (bringing about the end of centuries old European colonialism and the unimaginable cruelties to the peoples of the world), so too cannot Afghanistan which brought about the end of communism and the threat to global nuclear holocaust. Hence so important is this book to students of 20th century Europe. The book explores the triad nature of Islam, state and tribe that makes modern Afghanistan political culture unique, and the pitfalls of those who fail to appreciate it, through the lives of three 'almost-revolutionaries' who try to change Afghanistan but fail at the walls of its time attested nature. The three lives the author follows in chronological relevance are the leader of the Marxist coup, Taraki, the protagonist of the first successful tribal uprising against the Marxist Kabul government, Samiullah Safi, and the leader of the first umbrella organization uniting the two major jihadi groups fighting the Soviet invaders, Qazi Amin.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    The writing style here is academic, so this is not the kind of breathless journalistic narrative that everyone was writing after 9/11 (it was written before 9/11 anyway). Still, there were some funny snippets, like when the author reproduces a photograph from the front page of an Afghan newspaper. One of the communist regime leaders (president?) is sitting at a table with his ministers. You don't notice at first, but if you look closely, his image was expanded relative to the others so that he l The writing style here is academic, so this is not the kind of breathless journalistic narrative that everyone was writing after 9/11 (it was written before 9/11 anyway). Still, there were some funny snippets, like when the author reproduces a photograph from the front page of an Afghan newspaper. One of the communist regime leaders (president?) is sitting at a table with his ministers. You don't notice at first, but if you look closely, his image was expanded relative to the others so that he looks twice as big as everyone else. (The journalists apparently doctored the image to make allowances for the size of his ego.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aziz Rehman

    I think it is the best book on Genesis of Taliban Movement in Afghanistan It generally cover 20th century History of Afghanistan till Russian Afghan War (but it mostly is based on First several years of Russian-Afghan war) The best thing about this book is, It is not based on biased sources like other western writing (which included Ahmed Rashid) It deserves 5 Stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Excellent ethnography of the pre-Taliban Afghanistan/Pakistan Pashtun border region. Covers social transformation during anti-Soviet jihad.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex Linschoten

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Morgan

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Manning

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mujib Abid

  16. 5 out of 5

    John

  17. 4 out of 5

    Why You

  18. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eryanne

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Liu

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter Hokrein

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joachim

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christian Caryl

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim Scott

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karl Galle

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Fraser

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