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I’m not sure I’ll ever finish reading Descent into Chaos: the United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, but like his previous book, Taliban, he proves himself immensely knowledgeable about Pakistan’s role in the “Afghanistan problem.” While both Descent and Taliban offer readers a framework for understanding the many strands of the conflict in Afghanistan, Rashid amps up his criticism of the many failures of the Bush administration, the tangled mess of Afghani warlords, and what he perceives to be the “terrorism central,” Pakistan, in his latter work.

Folks, Rashid does not skimp on the details. The book is jam-packed with information. You’ll find that if you are prone to underlining important passages in books that nearly every page will be thoroughly marked up.

If you want commentary on the last 10 years of turmoil in Central Asia, go for Descent into Chaos. If you want a more comprehensive understanding of Central Asia and the making of terrorist states, read Taliban. If you go for both, be sure to space them out and have plenty of trash fiction to read in between Rashid’s books.

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