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.
‘What appears to be the most remarkable achievement of the study is the filling of a research gap … The collection of primary source materials undertaken by the authors has significantly enriched the literature on the topic.’ — Insight Turkey
‘This pathbreaking, expertly assembled collection provides crucial insights into the development of a complex 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, The Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University
‘A stunning documentary trail of the Taliban movement – this compilation of voices from the Taliban is a truly unique contribution.’ — 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. The editors have rendered an invaluable service in contributing to our understanding of the Taliban.’ — Antonio Giustozzi, Visiting Professor, King’s College London and author of The Army of Afghanistan: A Political History of a Fragile Institution
‘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
‘There are contributions, there are major contributions, and there are landmarks. This book is the latter. Through painstaking and intrepid work, Strick van Linschoten and Kuehn have made it possible to finally read the Taliban in their own words. The Taliban Reader fills a gaping hole in the literature, not just on Afghanistan, but on political Islam more broadly.’ — Thomas Hegghammer, Director of Terrorism Research, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), and author of Jihadi Culture: The Art and Social Practices of Militant Islamists
‘Much of what is written about the Taliban is hearsay. As they have done many times before, Strick and Kuehn put most journalists and experts to shame, relying on largely primary sources and assembling a wealth of translated documents that provide invaluable insights into what the Taliban were, are, and are likely to become. The Taliban Reader is an essential book for anyone wishing to understand not just this movement, but Islamist movements worldwide.’ — Ben Anderson, author and journalist