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Descent into Chaos

Trying to find out what’s gone on in Afghanistan since 9/11, I read Ahmed Rashid’s Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.  Rashid is a journalist from Pakistan.  He has previously published well-received books on the Taliban and on Jihad in Central Asia.   Descent into Chaos was a very lengthy, very detailed review of what the U.S. has been up to in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Central Asia since 9/11.  It is a book of bad news.  Bad news both about what the U.S. has done (or not done) and about how the other countries have reacted.

I wish that Rashid was just writing fiction, so that I could just wait for the next book in the series.  This book was terrifying.  More so than Ghost Wars, since the information in  Descent into Chaos picks up where Ghost Wars left off, and runs right up through early 2008.   Things have not improved.

I cannot summarize this book.  If you are looking for a single book to catch you up on what happened since 9/11, this will do the trick. If you’d like to get a preview of the book, here is a link to an interview with Rashid about the book.  I can say that I appreciated the gravitas with which Rashid approached the subject, his great reporting connections inside multiple countries, and his national pride (which had little chance to be exhibited, but was definitely on display in a few great moments).   Given the above, I will add his works on the Taliban and Jihad to my short list.


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