October 9, 2001 4:01 AM Subscribe
Ahmed Rashid and Idries Shah have been my best sources as I try to get a real appreciation for the mosaic of Pashtun tribesmen, Tajiks, etc., that is Afghanistan. The former's book (link to long excerpt) is chock full of facts about the background and makeup of the Taliban. The latter's is a page-turning 1986 military romance (no Arabs, no CIA mentioned, but the secret KGB phone number given was, famously correct), by an author better known for works on Sufis and the incorrigible humorist Mulla Nasrudin: a painless way to steep yourself in a (romantically idealized but extremely informative) Afghan worldview. So, you other news junkies, what have been your best sources for the deeper cultural background of this patch of rugged mountains with which the U.S. finds itself at war?
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