The Taliban: Afghanistan's Most Lethal Insurgents

263p. (PSI Guides to Terrorists, Insurgents, and Armed Groups). bibliog. index. maps. notes. photos. Praeger. 2014. Tr $52. ISBN 9780313398971; ebk. ISBN 9780313398988.
Gr 10 Up—Written by an Army intelligence veteran, this work tackles a difficult subject, balancing factual reporting, emotionally charged narratives, basic background information, and deeper explorations of conflict and ideologies. The book covers the origin of the Taliban, its rise to power and decline, and its current status, as well as the security conditions in Afghanistan. The content is well researched, gives relevant historical context and background of the extremist policies of the Taliban, and describes atrocities committed by terrorists and Americans and resistance to the Taliban. The occasionally dry tone is balanced by short, descriptive profiles of different people, such as a comedian who resisted oppression with humor. There are many individuals, groups, and concepts mentioned in each chapter, which can make the narrative challenging to follow, but this is mitigated by the inclusion of charts that clearly breakdown the structure of Taliban organizations, ideologies, and phases of warfare. The author has a military background, which provides insight and makes this book far less alarmist than The World Almanac of Islamism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011). The handful of images includes evocative sketches and a map of the region. The content is general enough for casual reading, and an extensive compilation of notes and a strong bibliography make it a great resource for research. Overall, this is a well-organized, valuable work.—Susanne Caro, University of Montana Library, Missoula

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