10 books like Poetry of the Taliban

By Felix Kuehn, Alex Strick Van Linschoten,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Poetry of the Taliban. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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My Life with the Taliban

By Abdul Salam Zaeef,

Book cover of My Life with the Taliban

There are few books available in English that describe the Taliban’s point of view, not just of the war, but of the many years leading up to it. Mullah Zaeef was a senior member of the Taliban government before the US invasion, and he explains a lot of the thinking behind the Taliban’s decisions and policies. Perhaps more importantly, he tells his own life story, which makes those decisions relatable on a human level. A very readable autobiography.

My Life with the Taliban

By Abdul Salam Zaeef,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life with the Taliban as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abdul Zaeef describes growing up in poverty in rural Kandahar province, which he fled for Pakistan after the Russian invasion of 1979. Zaeef joined the jihad in 1983, was seriously wounded in several encounters and met many leading figures of the resistance, including the current Taliban head, Mullah Mohammad Omar. Disgusted by the lawlessness that ensued after the Soviet withdrawal, Zaeef was one among the former mujahidin who were closely involved in the emergence of the Taliban, in 1994. He then details his Taliban career, including negotiations with Ahmed Shah Massoud and role as ambassador to Pakistan during 9/11. In…


Poppies, Politics, and Power

By James Tharin Bradford,

Book cover of Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy

Drug trafficking has become entwined with Afghanistan in the minds of many, though the true situation is often misunderstood. Bradford’s meticulous research not only clearly explains the present situation, it places it in the broader historical context that is almost always missing. The legal trade in opium has deep roots in Afghanistan, and even in the present day, there are as many senior government officials benefiting from it as there are insurgent leaders. He also explores the growing problem with addiction that plagues Afghanistan, humanizing a complex problem.

Poppies, Politics, and Power

By James Tharin Bradford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poppies, Politics, and Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Historians have long neglected Afghanistan's broader history when portraying the opium industry. But in Poppies, Politics, and Power, James Tharin Bradford rebalances the discourse, showing that it is not the past forty years of lawlessness that makes the opium industry what it is, but the sheer breadth of the twentieth-century Afghanistan experience. Rather than byproducts of a failed contemporary system, argues Bradford, drugs, especially opium, were critical components in the formation and failure of the Afghan state.

In this history of drugs and drug control in Afghanistan, Bradford shows us how the country moved from licit supply of the global…


An Intimate War

By Mike Martin,

Book cover of An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, 1978-2012

Martin was a British Army officer who learned to speak fluent Pashto, and spent long hours talking with and gaining the trust of various players in Helmand Province. Based on those discussions, he has put together the only oral history of the conflict there available in any language. By starting in 1978, he clearly shows that the fighting thirty years later had much deeper roots, and that more often than not, the causes of conflict were not apparent to Western eyes.

An Intimate War

By Mike Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Intimate War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An Intimate War' tells the story of the last thirty-four years of conflict in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of the Helmandis. In the West, this period is often defined through different lenses -- the Soviet intervention, the civil war, the Taliban, and the post-2001 nation-building era. Yet, as experienced by local inhabitants, the Helmand conflict is a perennial one, involving the same individuals, families and groups, and driven by the same arguments over land, water and power.

This book -- based on both military and research experience in Helmand and 150 interviews in Pashto -- offers…


The Hidden War

By Artyom Borovik,

Book cover of The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan

Borovik was a very well-known journalist in Russia, whose work gives an inside view of the Soviet military machine in Afghanistan. Far from being the all-powerful monolith that it is often portrayed as, Borovik shows the human aspect of war with unblinking candor. Although it is a journalistic account of what he saw and experienced, his writing elevates the subject to the level of literature. The misery and shattered idealism of the defeated Soviet soldiers resonates today.

The Hidden War

By Artyom Borovik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a record of the author's experiences during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. He lived and travelled with the Russian soldiers, went into combat with them and shared the terror, helplessness and despair of waging war in a foreign land against an unseen enemy for unclear purposes. The book also explains how and why Russian troops went into Afghanistan. It describes the drug problems, criminal behaviour and psychiatric disorders prevalent among veterans and concludes with an account of the Russian withdrawal and its aftermath.


Craig & Fred

By Craig Grossi,

Book cover of Craig & Fred: A Marine, a Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other

This may be the ultimate stray dog rescue story. Craig (the human) rescues Fred (the dog) from a war zone in a remote part of Afghanistan. What Craig goes through to bring this dog home to the US is astounding. And Fred is one of those instantly lovable, charming dogs whose personality shines through in Craig’s writing. In many ways, this book crosses genres—dog book, memoir, adventure, military, and thriller (I held my breath while reading several times!).

Craig & Fred

By Craig Grossi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Craig & Fred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heartwarming story of a stray dog and a U.S. Marine who met under the unlikeliest circumstances in Afghanistan—and who changed each other’s lives forever.

As part of an elite team of Marines, Craig Grossi was sent on his most dangerous assignment to the Sangin District of Afghanistan. He expected to face harsh conditions and violence from Taliban fighters.

What he didn’t expect was to meet a stray dog, with a big goofy head and little legs—a dog all on his own, filthy and covered in bugs, in a bomb-ridden district, but who carried himself with confidence. And even though…


The Sewing Circles of Herat

By Christina Lamb,

Book cover of The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

The three Pashtun virtues are hospitality, honor, and revenge. Pashtun hospitality epitomizes human warmth and generosity but Pashtun honor and revenge make a chilling and toxic cocktail. Christina Lamb gives a human face to the destruction wrought by the then unknown ultraconservative political and religious faction led by the one-eyed cleric, Mohammad Omar. Lamb was there before and after the tragedy. A great read. Will history repeat itself?

The Sewing Circles of Herat

By Christina Lamb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sewing Circles of Herat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Lamb’s long experience as a journalist is a solid stage upon which to build the story of her voyage through Afghanistan, told with a deep, loving honesty.” — Montreal Gazette (Canada)

A brilliant British war correspondent who has spent ten years in Afghanistan gives a first hand report on the war and its genesis.

Award-winning journalist Christina Lamb chronicles the human stories behind the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Lamb spent the last phase of the Soviet War in Pakistan, relying on her friendship with exiled Afghans to smuggle her in and out of Jalalabad. Many of these friends…


Kabul in Winter

By Ann Jones,

Book cover of Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan

Ann Jones’ memoir Kabul in Winter takes the reader inside the lives of Afghan women following the overthrow of the Taliban in the early 2000s. The book includes the necessary tour of Afghanistan’s history taking the reader through major events alongside the more valuable contribution of her time in Kabul. The book’s beauty lies in Jones’ ability to explain the plight of Afghan women in the complex context of entrenched cultural norms and religious beliefs without relying on simplistic Western cliches. We get to understand that there is no easy solution, no quick fix, because the entire society is structured around an uber patriarchy. I loved how her writing didn’t hold back and how her passion shines through along with her anger and despair.

Kabul in Winter

By Ann Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kabul in Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon after the bombs stopped falling on Kabul, award-winning journalist and women's rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city. This is her trenchant report from the city where she spent the next four winters working in humanitarian aid. Investigating the city's prison for women, retraining Kabul's long - silenced English teachers, Jones enters the lives of everyday women and men and reveals through small events some big disjunctions: between the new Afghan "democracy" and the still-entrenched warlords, between American promises and performance, between what's boasted of and what is. At once angry, profound, and starkly beautiful, "Kabul…


It's What I Do

By Lynsey Addario,

Book cover of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War is the memoir of Lynsey Addario, a photojournalist who is called to cover multiple wars in the Middle East and Africa. This book not only spans Addario’s professional journey to capture the utter devastation of life in the midst of war, but also her struggles to find a reasonable balance between her dangerous yet fulfilling career and the personal relationships in her life - something many women face! If you want an absorbing read and to be inspired, I cannot recommend this book enough.

It's What I Do

By Lynsey Addario,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked It's What I Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An unflinching memoir . . . [that] offers insight into international events and the challenges faced by the journalists who capture them.” —The Washington Post

War photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir is the story of how the relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the twenty-first century, has shaped her life. What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It’s her work, but it’s much more than that: it’s her singular calling.

Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young…


The Storyteller's Daughter

By Saira Shah,

Book cover of The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland

An extraordinary book by an extraordinary woman. Saira Shah recounts her journeys in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the context of her upbringing in a family with deep roots in the region. She is on the ground during the rise of the Taliban and the fight against the Russian occupation, and the story is hair-raising, enlightening, revelatory, informed, and insightfully detailed. Ms. Shah went on to make the celebrated documentary Beneath the Veil, risking her life daily to shoot video during the first phase of Taliban control. Unforgettable, and indispensable for understanding Afghanistan.

The Storyteller's Daughter

By Saira Shah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Storyteller's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagine that a jewel-like garden overlooking Kabul is your ancestral home. Imagine a kitchen made fragrant with saffron strands and cardamom pods simmering in an authentic pilau. Now remember that you were born in London, your family in exile, and that you have never seen Afghanistan in peacetime.

These are but the starting points of Saira Shah’s memoir, by turns inevitably exotic and unavoidably heartbreaking, in which she explores her family’s history in and out of Afghanistan. As an accomplished journalist and documentarian–her film Beneath the Veil unflinchingly depicted for CNN viewers the humiliations forced on women under Taliban rule–Shah…


Return of a King

By William Dalrymple,

Book cover of Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42

Did the British learn anything from Napoleon’s fatal retreat from Moscow in 1812? Exactly three decades later the greatest debacle in British military history occurred in Afghanistan, the graveyard of conquerors. William Dalrymple serves up a satisfying slice of history, complete with spies, counter-espionage, intrigue, hubris, and folly, and provides context for the emergence of the Taliban. The wise will heed the timeless saying, “The only time Pashtuns stop fighting, is when they go to war.”

Return of a King

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Return of a King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE 2013

'Dazzling' Sunday Times
'Magnificent' Guardian
'Sparkling' Daily Telegraph

In the spring of 1839, Britain invaded Afghanistan for the first time. Nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the high mountain passes and re-established on the throne Shah Shuja ul-Mulk.

On the way in, the British faced little resistance. But after two years of occupation, the Afghan people rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into violent rebellion. The First Anglo-Afghan War ended in Britain's greatest military humiliation of the nineteenth century: an entire army of…


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