Revolution Unending: Afghanistan, 1979 to the Present / Edition 1

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Overview

Having traveled and researched in Afghanistan since 1988, Gilles Dorronsoro has developed a rich and nuanced understanding of the country's history and people. In Revolution Unending he draws on his extensive firsthand experience to consider the political, historical, economic, and ethnic factors that will influence Afghanistan's future. He argues that U.S. optimism about Afghanistan following Western intervention and recent elections fails to appreciate the divisions that continue to define the country.

While not underestimating the oft-cited "ethnic factor" in Afghan politics, especially Pashtun dominance, Dorronsoro argues that class and the competition for employment and education are key factors in explaining the country's recent past. The 1990s saw the triumph of religious authorities (the ulema) and the marginalization of the traditional elites. With coalition intervention in 2001 and the subsequent deposition of the ulema-dominated Taliban, the educated elites are back in power. However, as Dorronsoro argues, patching up the country by means of short-term ethnic alliances and a new division of the spoils will only perpetuate the schisms in society. The Afghan civil war, Dorronsoro suggests, is set to continue and perhaps worsen over time.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World - Peter Bergen
For an authoritative account of modern Afghan history, we must turn instead to Gilles Dorronsoro's Revolution Unending. Deftly translated from the French by John King, it explains that conflict between the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan was never inevitable.
Booklist - Jay Freeman
A timely and valuable work.
Middle East Journal - Abdulkader Sinno
Revolution Unending is an excellent and very thorough study... This first-rate empirically-grounded book is a must read.
Digest of Middle East Studies - Erik Sean Estep
Dorronsoro, in his splendid and fascinating study... provides a much needed antidote to the many misconceptions about this country.
Washington Post Book World
For an authoritative account of modern Afghan history, we must turn instead to Gilles Dorronsoro's Revolution Unending. Deftly translated from the French by John King, it explains that conflict between the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan was never inevitable.

— Peter Bergen

Booklist
A timely and valuable work.

— Jay Freeman

Middle East Journal
Revolution Unending is an excellent and very thorough study... This first-rate empirically-grounded book is a must read.

— Abdulkader Sinno

Digest of Middle East Studies
Dorronsoro, in his splendid and fascinating study... provides a much needed antidote to the many misconceptions about this country.

— Erik Sean Estep

Peter Bergen
For an authoritative account of modern Afghan history, we must turn instead to Gilles Dorronsoro's Revolution Unending. Deftly translated from the French by John King, it explains that conflict between the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan was never inevitable. It "was not 'ethnicities' that made war," Dorronsoro writes, "but political organisations with ideological objectives."
— The Washington Post
Kirkus Reviews
The Taliban are gone now, but will they be back? To judge by this scholarly account of Afghan politics, the chances are good that the answer is yes. State-building in Afghanistan, Dorronsoro (Political Science/Sorbonne) suggests, is akin to stacking mercury with a pitchfork. So it has been from the first, when, in 1929, the constitutional monarchy of Afghanistan was carved out of bits of the former Persian Empire. Soon rivalries of various kinds-personal, ethnic, regional, religious and political-began to pull the country apart. The Communists came to power in the 1970s in part because the educated urban elite had abandoned some of those rivalries in favor of an ideology that put party solidarity ahead of other kinds of loyalties. But, Dorronsoro argues, the Communist Party failed to build a base outside the cities where that educated elite lived: "Radio stations throughout the country spread the new regime's propaganda," Dorronsoro writes, "but the unfamiliar Marxist-Leninist language fell harshly on the people's ears." At the same time, Islamic students began to reject the teachings of the traditional mullahs and, when civil war came, to radicalize a countryside already inclined to despise city dwellers. That war against the Marxist regime and its Soviet benefactors had many causes, Dorronsoro writes, though it was widely interpreted as mainly an ethnic conflict, "since this was the only language which the foreign powers understood without difficulty." Following the Soviet defeat and the overthrow of the Marxists, the old rivalries began to emerge; a decade later, they would be complicated by a split between those who favored Iraq over those who favored Saudi Arabia. Enter theshort-term winner in that argument, the Taliban, which "gave expression to the desire of rural people to avenge themselves on the towns" even as they alienated the nation's minorities, yielding an unintended "ethnicization" of the conflict. The minority population is in charge now, backed by an American occupying force. But, Dorronsoro suggests, the time will come when the countryside, resistant to the more liberal cities, will rise again. A coherent overview for scholars of the region.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Gilles Dorronsoro is professor of political science, Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne). He has written extensively on Afghan and Central Asian politics and is a member of the editorial committees of Cultures and Conflicts and Central Asian Literature.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

ForewordChronologyGlossary

Introduction

PART ONE. THE ORIGINS OF THE AFGHAN REVOLUTION

1. The Sociogenesis of the Afghan State2. From Mobilisation to Revolution

PART TWO. MOBILISATIONS

3. The Commanders4. The Jihadi Parties

PART THREE. THE DYNAMICS OF CONFRONTATION

5. The Kabul Regime6. The Guerillas

PART FOUR. THE TALIBAN

7. Competition and the Impetus towards Monopoly (1992-2001)8. The Ethnicisation of the Conflict9. The Clerical State

PART FIVE. THE AMERICAN INVASION AND THE RETURN OF FRAGMENTATION

10. A Splendid Little War? 11. the Return to Political Fragmentation12. The Policy of Pakistan

ConclusionSelect BibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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