Posted by: Christian | June 2, 2009

Academic Reading Recommendation #3

There is a lot of dry, boring scholarship on Afghanistan. On the other hand, “good reads” on Afghanistan are usually bad scholarship. There are even books that are both bad and boring. However, there is that rare book that is both a good read and good scholarship. For example, Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan. Today, I would like to point out two books by the same author that are both good and good:

Heroes of the Age: Moral Fault Lines on the Afghan Frontier, by David B Edwards (University of California Press, 1996)

Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad, by David B. Edwards (University of California Press, 2002)

And good news if you want to get your hands on these books. UofC Press has recently made these books open access, here and here. However, it’s not a download. So without further ado, here are some PDFs from the darker corners of the internet:

Read in order of publication. If Heroes doesn’t engage you, then you may be comatose.

David B Edwards is currently an anthropology professor at Williams College and is the director of the Williams Afghan Media Project. He also co-directed and produced a documentary called Kabul Transit.

No reviews. [I actually reviewed Heroes over two years ago, but I would probably now qualify parts of the review] I’m just going to do what I do with most books: go to the table on contents.

Heroes of the Age:

1. INTRODUCTION
Beginnings
Recollecting the Past
Contested Domains

2. THE MAKING OF SULTAN MUHAMMAD KHAN
Myth and History
Fathers and Sons
Men and Women
Friends and Enemies
Coda: Jandad’s Punishment

3. THE REIGN OF THE IRON AMIR
Mapping the State
The Once and Future King
The Armature of Royal Rule
Kingship and Honor
Coda: The Death of the King

4. THE LIVES OF AN AFGHAN SAINT
Twice-Told Tales
Fathers and Sons
Identity and Place
Discipline and Power
Benefit and Gratitude
Purity and Politics
Pirs and Princes
Coda: The Journey to Koh-i Qaf

5. MAD MULLAS AND ENGLISHMEN
A Passage to India
The Events of 1897 and Their Explanation
Waging Jihad
The Fault Lines of Authority
Tales of Jarobi Glen
Conclusion

6. EPILOGUE
Re: Posting on the Internet
Embedded Codes

Before Taliban:

1. Introduction: Into Forbidden Afghanistan

Part I. The Saur Revolution

2. Lives of the Party
3. The Armature of Khalqi Power
Coda: The Death of a President

Part II. The Pech [Kunar] Uprising
4. A Son of Safi
5. Anatomy of a Tribal Uprising
Coda: The Death of a Safi Daughter

Part III. The Islamic Jihad
6. Muslim Youth
7. Fault Lines in the Afghan Jihad
Coda: The Death of Majrooh

8. Epilogue: Topakan and Taliban

Now go read.


Responses

  1. Hello,
    I visit “Ghosts of Alexander” regularly and find interesting information here.
    Maybe you would be interested in reading this book on the educational development, the state and society in Afghanistan. I helped my brother publish it. He has spent 5 years working for inernational organizations within the Ministry of Education and is currently back in Afghanistan.
    It would be certainly good to spread the news about this publication, because it contains previously undisclosed data and information from inside the system…
    Please visit http://www.educationinafghanistan.com for more information.
    Have a nice day! Greetings from Germany,
    Natascha Naumann

  2. […] Far be it from me to comment on this – because I haven’t just spent a month in Afghanistan – but here’s some perspective on the situation from Abu Muquawama: 1. Winning in Afghanistan will be really, really difficult. I was and am still haunted by one of the last paragraphs in David B. Edwards’ majesterial Heroes of the Age: […]

  3. […] strategy review, emphasis mine: I was and am still haunted by one of the last paragraphs in David B. Edwards’ majesterial Heroes of the Age: “Afghanistan’s central problem [is] Afghanistan itself, specifically certain profound […]

  4. […] was and am still haunted by one of the last paragraphs in David B. Edwards’ majesterial Heroes of the Age: “Afghanistan’s central problem [is] Afghanistan itself, specifically certain profound […]


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