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Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad

Before Taliban: Genealogies of  the Afghan Jihad
Author: David B. Edwards
ISBN 13: 9780520228610
ISBN 10: 520228618
Edition: 61098th
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2002-04-02
Format: Paperback
Pages: 376
List Price: $31.95

17 b/w photographs, 3 maps
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.

Library Journal

In 1987, the Afghan Media Resource Center (AMRC) of Williams College, based in Peshawar, Pakistan, sent photographers and journalists to cover the tail end of the war with the Soviets. At the time, the center accumulated massive archives of videotapes, photographs, and press articles, later brought back for digitization and used as primary sources for this book. An expert in violence and culture, Edwards (anthropology, Willams Coll.) takes a genealogical approach to history not only in terms of relationships but "moral responsibility," adding a cultural aspect to politics. He began this process with his first book, Heroes of the Age: Moral Fault Lines on the Afghan Frontier. With this book, he continues to piece together relationships that have shaped Afghanistan's past, present, and inevitably its future by following the lives of three Afghan leaders: Nur Muhammad Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin Waqad. He introduces significant persons, parties, and uprisings, bringing us to the point where Taliban and Topakan were created. Filled with photographs and maps that document the stories told, this book provides a rare and timely account of politics and culture in Afghanistan. An essential research tool in academic and research libraries. Ethan P. Pullman, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib., PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.