First time in paperback, with a new Introduction and final chapter
World affairs expert and intrepid travel journalist Robert D. Kaplan braved the dangers of war-ravaged Afghanistan in the 1980s, living among the mujahidin—the “soldiers of god”—whose unwavering devotion to Islam fueled their mission to oust the formidable Soviet invaders. In Soldiers of God we follow Kaplan’s extraordinary journey and learn how the thwarted Soviet invasion gave rise to the ruthless Taliban and the defining international conflagration of the twenty-first century.
Kaplan returns a decade later and brings to life a lawless frontier. What he reveals is astonishing: teeming refugee camps on the deeply contentious Pakistan-Afghanistan border; a war front that combines primitive fighters with the most technologically advanced weapons known to man; rigorous Islamic indoctrination academies; a land of minefields plagued by drought, fierce tribalism, insurmountable ethnic and religious divisions, an abysmal literacy rate, and legions of war orphans who seek stability in military brotherhood. Traveling alongside Islamic guerrilla fighters, sharing their food, observing their piety in the face of deprivation, and witnessing their determination, Kaplan offers a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of a people and a country that are at the center of world events.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Soldiers of God|
|Release Date: 12-24-2008|
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Soldiers of God
The Growth of a Commander
As we all know, memory is selective. Individuals, like tribes and nations, continually revise their own pasts to conform with current self-images. This was especially true for the Pathans. "Facts," observed a British friend, "were so interwoven with fiction on the Northwest Frontier that one might as well unstitch all the carpets in the Khyber bazaar before finding a stitch of truth."
Between trips inside, I fell into a pattern of seeing Abdul Haq at least two times a week. I have only Haq's word for the seminal events of his youth. But that was all I wanted. It was his attitudes and image of himself, rather than the bare-bones literal truth, that I was after.
Haq's headquarters in a guarded Peshawar villa was one of the few places in the Third World I'd seen where real work--rather than the usual conspiracy-mongering over endless cups of tea--seemed to be done, where I knew that I was taking up valuable time. In the waiting room I always saw a group of muiahidin nervously clutching notes, waiting to see "Haji Sahab" (Mr. Haji). One entered Haq's private office only after removing one's shoes. Apart from that, his office had a surface resemblance to that of any businessman or lawyer in the West. Haq would usually be talking on one of his two desk phones while simultaneously reading a report and writing notes on a separate sheet of paper. Next to the two phones were a small globe and a red desk lamp. Papers were stacked at neat right angles to the other objects on the desk and separated into "in" and "out" piles. Behind the desk on the wall was a large map of Soviet posts in Kabul. (In the adjacent "war ro...