Poetry of the Taliban by Alex Strick van Linschoten

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Much of the poetry here appeals to the heart rather than the head, engendering sympathy for the speakers' plight. That these poems put us in this uncomfortable place is the most impressive achievement of the anthology.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Overlooked by many as mere propaganda, poetry offers an unfettered insight into the wider worldview of the Afghan Taliban. This collection of over two hundred poems draws upon Afghan tradition and the recent past as much as upon a long history of Persian, Urdu and Pashto verse. The contrast between the severity of their ideology and the Taliban's long-standing poetic tradition is nothing short of remarkable. Unrequited love, vengeance, the thrill of battle, religion and nationalism--even a yearning for non-violence--are expressed through images of wine, powerful women and pastoral beauty, providing a fascinating insight into the hearts and minds of these redoubtable adversaries.

Taliban verse is fervent, and very modern in its criticism of human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict. Whether describing an air strike on a wedding party or lamenting, "We did all of this to ourselves," it is concerned not with politics, but with identity, and a full, textured, deeply conflicted humanity.

It is such impassioned descriptions--sorrowfully defeated and enraged, triumphant, bitterly powerless or bitingly satirical--and not the austere arguments of myriad analysts that will ultimately define and endure as a record of the war in Afghanistan.
 

About Alex Strick van Linschoten

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Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn are researchers and writers permanently based in Kandahar. They have worked in Afghanistan since 2006, focusing on the Taliban insurgency and the history of southern Afghanistan. Their research extends to other Muslim countries as well, and they regularly appear as commentators on major western news channels. Faisal Devji is reader in the history of South Asia at St. Antony's College, Oxford University. He is also the author of The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics.
 
Published May 17, 2012 by Hurst. 224 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War, Literature & Fiction, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Daljit Nagra on May 25 2012

Much of the poetry here appeals to the heart rather than the head, engendering sympathy for the speakers' plight. That these poems put us in this uncomfortable place is the most impressive achievement of the anthology.

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