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My Life with the Taliban
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Table of Contents

Death at Home The Camps The Jihad Lessons from the ISI Bitter Pictures Withdrawal Taking Action The Beginning Administrative Rule Mines and Industries A Monumental Task Diplomatic Principles Growing Tensions The Osama Issue 9/11 and its Aftermath A Hard Realisation Prisoner 306 Guantanamo Bay Graveyard of the Living Getting Out No War to Win Conclusion

About the Author

Born in southern Afghanistan in 1968, Abdul Salam Zaeef played a role in many of the historical events of his lifetime, from his role as mujahed in the 1980s war against the Soviets, to administrative positions within the Taliban movement, to imprisonment in Guantanamo, to a role of public advocacy and criticism of the US-backed Karzai government following his release in 2005. He lives in Kabul.

Reviews

Keen observers of Afghanistan have invariably referred to that country as the graveyard of empires. In recent years, its political destiny has largely been affected by the policies of the Taliban movement. In this highly readable book, Western readers are given a glimpse of the movement's goals via the words of Zaeef, a former senior member of the Taliban who was held as an American prisoner, including several years in Guantanamo. This autobiography has been ably translated from the Pashto and edited by Strick van Linschoten and Kuehn (cofounders, AfghanWire.com), who are based in the city of Kandahar, a major Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan. In this fluid narrative, the reader learns of Zaeef's formative years as a fighter against the Soviet occupation of his country, his subsequent administrative position in the Taliban government, his experience in Guantanamo, his eventual release without charge, and his resettlement in Kabul as a private citizen. In addition, Zaeef provides perspectives on Afghan issues that are largely ignored by the international media and recounts his criticisms of the U.S.-supported Afghan government. VERDICT Highly recommended for all specialists and interested general readers.-Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

'Reading Mullah Zaeef's book reminded me for the umpteenth time how valuable it is to read about a movement like the Taliban from its own perspective. ... the real "intelligence" in the book lies not in its details but in the texture, perspective, assumptions and narratives that it provides from inside the Taliban leadership - a very rare perspective.' -- Pullitzer Prize winning journalist Steve Coll in The New Yorker 'The entire world wants to understand the Taliban these days, it seems, as the war in Afghanistan becomes the topic of the moment. Precious few people can tell the inside story of the shadowy movement, however, which makes Zaeef's autobiography an incredibly important book. If your government sends soldiers to Afghanistan, you must read this. - By the time you're finished reading, you might not sympathize with the Taliban -- but you will know them as people, not monsters.' -- Graeme Smith, Emmy award-winning Afghanistan-based reporter for the Globe and Mail, Toronto 'Not, perhaps, since the Khmer Rouge, has a movement emerged on the world stage about which so much is opaque to outsiders as the Taliban. Much of that opacity is, of course, intentional. Into this murk Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef shines some much-needed light with his fascinating memoir as a Taliban insider. By virtue of his role as the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Zaeef was privy to the Taliban's decision making in the run up to 9/11 and thereafter. And his story has much to say about the nature of the gathering insurgency that NATO and the United States presently face. If President Obama wanted a window into the thinking of the Taliban today he couldn't do better than this.' - Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know 'The entire world wants to understand the Taliban these days, it seems, as the war in Afghanistan becomes the topic of the moment. Precious few people can tell the inside story of the shadowy movement, however, which makes Zaeef's autobiography an incredibly important book. If your government sends soldiers to Afghanistan, you must read this. By revealing the inner workings of the Taliban from the early days of the movement, Zaeef challenges the accepted wisdom about the insurgency now facing international troops. By the time you're finished reading, you might not sympathize with the Taliban -- but you will know them as people, not monsters.' -- Graeme Smith, Globe and Mail, Toronto 'presents a unique hindsight into the worldview of the Taliban. ... No other book published so far in English offers this. ... an important historical document and a captivating read.' -- Dr Antonio Giustozzi, LSE, author of Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo Taliban In Afghanistan 'Highly significant...will be widely read - and will greatly appeal to those wanting an Islamist counter to orthodox accounts of the rise and fall of the Taliban.'-- Michael Semple, former EU representative in Afghanistan

The recent history of Afghanistan is the focus of this harrowing autobiography by Taliban member Zaeef. The book begins with the author's early childhood before turning to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Zaeef's decision to join the mujahideen resistance. Countering conventional accounts that the Taliban emerged in the 1990s, Zaeef maintains that the movement existed as early as the 1970s. The author traces his rise in the Taliban to his appointment as ambassador to Pakistan in 2000, and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay after September 11 and the fall of the Taliban regime. He describes the psychological and physical torture he and his fellow prisoners suffered at the hands of American soldiers and concludes with a vehement denunciation of American policy in Afghanistan. Zaeef's matter-of-fact prose can be difficult to take in the more violent segments, particularly those that deal with the Soviet invasion and Guantanamo Bay, and some readers may be offended by his fiercely anti-American political stance. However partisan the book may be, it is a valuable addition to the literature on contemporary Afghan history. (Mar.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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