The Taliban: Afghanistan's Most Lethal Insurgents

By Barzilai, Yaniv | Parameters, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

The Taliban: Afghanistan's Most Lethal Insurgents


Barzilai, Yaniv, Parameters


The Taliban: Afghanistan's Most Lethal Insurgents

By Mark Silinsky

Westport, CT: Praeger Security International (PSI) Publishing, 2014

263 pages

$52.00

Thirteen years into the longest war in American history, precious little is known about the Taliban. Indeed, most Americans probably could not identify Mullah Omar as the leader of the Taliban by name or recognize him as one of America's top enemies from the two grainy pictures of him that exist in the public domain. The Taliban: Afghanistan's Most lethal Insurgents, a part of the PSI Guide to Terrorists, Insurgents, and Armed Groups series, seeks to fill that void. A 31-year veteran of the defense intelligence community, Mark Silinsky has written a useful, concise, and readable primer on the Taliban. The book is ambitious in its scope. In less than 200 pages, Silinsky attempts to provide an account of the history of the Taliban, tactics and strategy the Taliban employs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the connections the Taliban maintains with other militant organizations and foreign powers, and an overview of US counterinsurgency efforts against the Taliban. Scattered throughout the book are short, vivid profiles of individuals who crossed paths with the Taliban, adding color and personality to the narrative.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of The Taliban is the description of the way the organization operates. Silinsky succinctly discusses the structure and leadership of the Taliban, then explores how the Taliban uses violence, intimidation, and information operations to achieve its objectives. He also compares the Taliban to a criminal organization and identifies the various criminal activities it uses to support its operations. Experts looking for new information on the Taliban are unlikely to discover it in this book, but those who are less familiar with the Taliban and the US war in Afghanistan will probably enjoy Silinsky's accessible overview of what he deems "Afghanistan's most lethal insurgents." Similarly, his analysis, which is rooted within the framework of US counterinsurgency doctrine, is familiar but thoughtful. …

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