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In 1991, a British university student spent his summer break with Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq. Now a prize-winning reporter and author of a critically acclaimed book on al Qaeda, Jason Burke travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Gaza Strip, and Thailand to meet with refugees, mujahideen, and government ministers in a probing search to understand Islam, and Islamic radicalism, in the context of the War on Terrorism: His symbolic destination is the ancient city of Kandahar, a crossroads of history that was once the capital of Afghanistan, overtaken by such invaders as Alexander the Great, Tamer lane, and Genghis Khan before it became the Taliban’s administrative headquarters.
Burke, a daring foreign correspondent for Britain’s Observer, crosses borders, dodges incoming shells, and speaks with villagers, soldiers, and government officials in a quest to understand why they fight (or don’t fight), and what they fear and hope for. He interviews Taliban officials, a former torturer for Saddam Hussein’s dreaded Mukhabarat (intelligence service), a soccer- loving suicide bomber, and an American sniper in Iraq, among many others.
With crisp, evocative writing reminiscent of Hemingway (who also started as a foreign correspondent), On the Road to Kandahar brings the reader close to the people in whose villages and cities the “War on Terrorism” and Islamists’ violent acts of anti-Western, anti- modern jihad are being fought.
Praised by London’s Daily Mail as intensely personal and accessible: this is the gripping story of a search for answers to some of the most urgent questions of our time: What drives Islamic fundamentalism, and how should the West respond? Are we so fundamentally different that we can’t coexist? Although much of Burke’s account concerns war and suffering, he reaches the optimistic conclusion that extremist violence alienates its populations, and so is doomed to fail and wither away.
Publisher: THOMAS DUNNE BOOKS