The Taliban Reader
War, Islam and Politics
A comprehensive sourcebook for scholars and students of Islamist political movements.
Who are the Taliban? Are they a militant movement? Are they religious scholars? The fact that these and other questions are still raised is testimony to the way the movement has been studied, often at arm’s length and with scant use of primary sources.
The Taliban Reader forges a new path, bringing together an extensive range of largely unseen sources in a guide to the Afghan Islamist movement from a unique insider perspective. Ideal for students, journalists and scholars alike, this book is the result of an unprecedented, decade-long effort to encourage the emergence of participant-centred accounts of Afghan history.
This ground-breaking collection, ranging from news articles and opinion pieces to online publications and poems transcribed by hand in the field, sets the stage for a recalibration of how we understand and study the Afghan Taliban. It challenges researchers to forge new norms in the documentation of conflict and provides insight into the future trajectory of political Islamism in South Asia and the Middle East.
Alex Strick van Linschoten is a researcher and writer based in Amman, Jordan. His previous books include, with Felix Kuehn, Poetry of the Taliban, An Enemy We Created and My Life with the Taliban. He holds a PhD in War Studies from King’s College London.
Felix Kuehn is a researcher and writer based in Berlin. He has worked in Afghanistan since 2006, focusing on the Taliban insurgency and the history of southern Afghanistan over the past four decades. He is a PhD candidate at the War Studies Department of King's College London.
‘While much about the Taliban movement remains mysterious, this pathbreaking collection, expertly assembled by two of the leading scholars of the movement, provides crucial insights into the development of a complex and heterogeneous phenomenon, and a valuable point of departure for those concerned with how the Taliban might evolve in rapidly changing times.’ — William Maley, Professor of Diplomacy at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University and author of What is a Refugee?
‘A stunning documentary trail of the Taliban movement from its origins in the early 1980s to the present — this compilation of voices from the Taliban is a truly unique contribution. It will foster new insight into a movement of which relatively little is known, despite its continued significance far beyond Afghanistan.’ — Astri Suhrke, Senior Researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen and author of When More is Less: The International Project in Afghanistan
‘A very useful and indeed unique collection of Taliban statements, extracts and commentaries, several of which have never before been in the public domain, in any language. The editors have rendered an invaluable service in contributing to our understanding of the Taliban as state and organisation.’ — Antonio Giustozzi, Visiting Professor, King’s College London and author of The Army of Afghanistan: A Political History of a Fragile Institution
‘This compendium represents an absolutely brilliant and lasting contribution to the study of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Strick van Linschoten and Kuehn’s editorial comments systematically pull the themes of the primary sources into a coherent whole. I highly recommend this authoritative and rare compilation.’ — Thomas H. Johnson, Research Professor of National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey and author of Taliban Narratives: The Use and Power of Stories in the Afghanistan Conflict