I actually did some constructive things with my time in the field and got through some very good books. I started the op reading Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, a nonfiction that plots the rise of Islam in the world of politics and documents America’s involvement in the development of radical Islam. I’ll spare you with a term paper on the books argument, but I’ll try and provide a brief synopsis.
After a heavy introduction distinguishing the roles of Islam in society and politics throughout history the book dives straight into the west’s ethnocentric policies during the colonial period. It explains how western nations (namely Britain and France) were some of the first nations to use terrorism to pursue policy, the major case being the South African/Angola affair. It then focuses on America’s use of covert operations and funds to wage proxy war’s in nations around the world, notably Laos, Nicaragua, Iraq/Iran and finally Afghanistan. The major focus of the book is on America’s involvement in the Afghan war against Russia, when American CIA agents helped Pakistan open training camps and religious schools that would produce radical Muslim extremists recruited from around the globe who would fight Reagan’s ‘Evil Empire’ of the Soviet Union. The book asserts that the CIA warped the meaning and purpose of the Jihad in order to serve its purpose. Claims of the CIA’s involvement in the opium trade as a source of funding are also made.
The book was very compelling and the arguments we’re backed up with about 60 pages of citations and footnotes at the back of the book. I’ll hold my judgement on the argument the book makes for your sake.
The next book I read was A Thousand Splendid Suns, by the same author as The Kite Runner. This was the perfect book to read next because it dealt with the lives of two women as they lived through the wars in Afghanistan, first the revolution, then the Soviet invasion and then the mujhadeen revolt and the Taliban takeover. After having lived in a Muslim nation for seven months similar to Afghanistan and seeing what the lives of women are like in a traditional Islamic society, it was an awesome book. Very much on the depressing side, which, if you’ve ever seen a woman wearing a burqa getting smacked by her husband you would understand. But I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse at this culture or the recent history of Afghanistan. The author is amazing, I had read The Kite Runner about a year ago and fell in love with his style.
Towards the end of the op the pickin’s on books started to get slim. I kept eying this Clive Cussler novel sitting around, but I remembered that I had promised myself never to read a Clive Cussler novel. Finally sheer boredom won out and I picked it up and started reading it. 364 Dirk Pitt adventure filled pages later I remembered why I had sworn that I wouldn’t read that crap.