The Return of Rashid

by Christian Bleuer on 3/17/2008 · 1 comment

Whether you like it or not, Ahmed Rashid is making his return to Central Asia. His previous contributions to the “better” understanding of Central Asia include The Resurgence of Central Asia: Islam or Nationalism? and Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia. I consider them unwelcome additions to the “literature” on the region; full of hyperbole, inaccuracies and dire predictions that did not manifest. Apparently people weren’t actually eating babies in Osh.

And now we have to look forward to his new book, subtly titled Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Perhaps Central Asia was merely attached to the subtitle to give the book an appearance of regional context. Maybe there will be very little discussion on Central Asia beyond the obligatory discussion of US basing in Central Asia and of Andijon?

We shall find out in June of this year when Rashid’s bargain-priced 540 pages are released. Despite my tone I will be putting down my $18.45 for a copy. Like it or not, Rashid is influential.


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{ 1 comment }

Dan March 22, 2008 at 5:33 am

Ouch. I hadn’t realised there was such hostility towards Ahmed Rasid floating around. He seemed to at least do his research and talk to people beyond the bubble that surrounds most journalists in Afghanistan. Is he really more hyperbolic, inaccurate and wrong than the majority of people writing about Central Asia?

As for the book titles: I tend to ignore them. They’re chosen by the publishers, and they’re designed to sell books to people more interested in America than in Central Asia. The content may be good or may be bad, but the title doesn’t count for a great deal other than marketing.

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