Saturday, July 5, 2008

Five best books about Afghanistan

Ann Marlowe, author of The Book of Trouble, was embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan twice in 2007. She has visited the country 10 times since 2002.

For the Wall Street Journal, she came up with a five best list of books that "afford a deeper understanding of Afghanistan."

Number One on her list:
Heroes of the Age
By David B. Edwards
University of California, 1996

David B. Edwards's thesis in "Heroes of the Age" is that Afghanistan's problems come from "the moral incoherence" of the country itself. Afghans share a myth of the nation, but not an idea of the state, Edwards argues. The principles of Islam, honor and state governance are all respected, but often incompatible. The conflict is vividly on display in Edwards's engrossing essays about a three larger-than-life and arguably psychopathic men: Mullah Hadda, a saintly late-19th-century mullah from Ghazni, in central Afghanistan; Amir Abdur Rahman, Afghanistan's brutal, unifying king from 1880 to 1901; and Sultan Muhammad Khan, who participated in Afghanistan's last tribal rebellion, in the 1940s (he blinded his mother for denying him the opportunity to avenge his father's death). Their stories, which unfold largely in the still-volatile eastern frontier provinces, would be useful to American soldiers in understanding the dysfunctional aspects of the society in which they are operating.
Read about the other books on the list.

Check out Marlowe's 2006 literary guide to Afghanistan.

--Marshal Zeringue