The best books about the Taliban 📚

Browse the best books on the Taliban as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of My Life with the Taliban

My Life with the Taliban

By Abdul Salam Zaeef

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best books on the War in Afghanistan

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Book cover of Poetry of the Taliban

Poetry of the Taliban

By Felix Kuehn, Alex Strick Van Linschoten

Why this book?

The Taliban have long used poetry as a means of disseminating their messages, and their website features work in many different languages. Poetry has a very long tradition in Afghanistan, and so while the Taliban have tapped into this cultural current, it would be wrong to dismiss all of the poetry written (or even published) by the Taliban as mere propaganda. The poems in this work provide insight into the hearts and minds of Taliban fighters, who long for peace and for a multitude of things lost in war, who celebrate victories and lament defeats. A very human view of…

From the list:

The best books on the War in Afghanistan

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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

By Lynsey Addario

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best books about women driving change around the world

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

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

By Craig Grossi

Why this book?

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!).

From the list:

The best books on rescue dogs

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

The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

By Christina Lamb

Why this book?

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?

From the list:

The best books on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban

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Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

By Steve Coll

Why this book?

The inside story of how the CIA, the Mujahadeen, and Pakistani intelligence orchestrated a civil war in Afghanistan, and sowed the seeds of Islamic militancy that would eventually lead to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Steve Coll’s history is a masterpiece of journalistic research and political storytelling. I love this book because Coll provides both the sweeping global scope of history and the minute, gritty details that bring the sights, stories, and blood of Afghanistan’s war into sharp focus for readers. For such a deep dive, the book is incredibly accessible and is a breeze to read.  As an…

From the list:

The best books on the human toll of civil war

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