978-0-14-200260-5 / 9780142002605

Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia


Publisher:Penguin Books



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About the book:

In the aftermath of September 11, as Americans tried to figure out what they were up against, many of them turned to Ahmed Rashid's masterful book Taliban, the single best account of Afghanistan's murderous regime. With Jihad, Rashid offers an indispensable companion volume on five of Afghanistan's neighbors--Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan--and "the New Great Game" about to be waged over them between China, Russia, and the United States. "The vast, empty landscape dotted with oases of vibrant populations and political ferment, sitting on the world's last great untapped natural energy reserves, is almost as unknown to Westerners as it was to Europeans in the Middle Ages," writes Rashid, a Pakistani journalist with extensive experience reporting from the region. He describes the area's "growing instability," which he credits to a strain of militant Islam just like the form propagated by the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. One of the most interesting parts of Jihad concerns Juma Namangani, a shadowy rebel leader in Uzbekistan who has "cultivated an air of mystery that [is] even more extreme than that of the secretive [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar." Rashid concludes that radical Islam will remain popular in Central Asia as long as the governments there are oppressive. We ignore this part of the world at our peril, and there is no better guide to it than Rashid. --John Miller

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