Kaplan, Robert D. Soldiers of God: with Islamic Warriors on Afghanistan and Pakistan. New York: Random House, 2001.
Reason read: Khomeini died in the month of June.
Soldiers of God provides the historical context for the emergence of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist network. Given the devastation of September 11th, 2001 the republishing of this book was timely and smart on Kaplan’s part. Robert Kaplan first traveled to Afghanistan and lived among the mujahidin (soldiers of God) back in the mid 1980s. It was on this journey that Kaplan came to witness the rise of the Taliban. More than that, he acquired the colors to paint a vivid picture of a society few Americans see: refugee camps, harsh drought, pervasive illiteracy, militant indoctrination, fierce piety, and ethnic battle lines. In the unity of prayer was practically the only form of democracy; all whispering the name of God one hundred times.
Kaplan digs deep to uncover the hidden side effects of the Soviet invasion – malaria outbreaks, for example. Thanks to stagnant pools of mosquito infested water caused by pervasive destruction of irrigation systems.
Quotes to quote, “The idea of fighting for political freedom is an easy one to grasp until you see in the flesh what the cost is” (p 143) and “After twenty four hours in Querta, my instinct told me that if a man possessed no furniture, he also possessed no useful information” (p 200).
Author fact: According to the back cover of his book, Kaplan is a “world affairs expert.”
Book trivia: Soldiers of God was first published in 1990. Pearl mentioned a newer edition with a updated introduction and final chapter.
Nancy said: Pearl mentioned Soldiers of God as a good book about militant Islam.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Islamic World” (p 126).