This first installment of a two-volume history tracks the ascent of Afghanistan as a hotbed for terrorism.
Beginning with the 1998 Taliban assault on the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, debut author Hadi explores the evolution of modern terrorism in Afghanistan. The book’s first half is dedicated to the Taliban, who represent the latest (and perhaps most troubling) in a long line of armed groups that have made peace impossible in the country, as well as a recap of the nation’s turbulent history of invasions. In the second half, Hadi launches into a sustained analysis of events since 1978, the year of the Soviet incursion and the beginning of Afghanistan’s ongoing period of nearly incessant conflict. The author breaks down the various players and phases of the long war up to the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud in September 2001, with particular attention paid to the way in which foreign powers tipped the scales for one faction or another. While the Taliban are excoriated for their many atrocities—Hadi hates the group even more than most people do—the author also identifies the actors who have helped create the instability in Afghanistan. He singles out the self-serving actions of the Soviet Union and the United States, as well as the terrorism-tolerant regimes of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Hadi writes in a dense, breathless prose that sometimes veers into awkward or unpredictable directions. The reader quickly gets used to his habit of making unsubstantiated claims like “Historians agree that no other country of comparable size and population to Afghanistan has seen so much action in the course of history.” Hadi is clearly deeply versed in his country’s recent events, and his conclusions as to how it reached its present state of volatility reside well within the mainstream view. Even so, at no point does the reader feel that this is an objective historical account. Hadi has decided who the villains of this chronicle are, and he shows no interest in masking his disdain for them.
A colorful account of the rise of Islamic radicals in Afghanistan.