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Games Without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Tamim Ansary

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Kurzbeschreibung

24. Januar 2013
Today, most Westerners still see the war in Afghanistan as a contest between democracy and Islamist fanaticism. That war is real; but it sits atop an older struggle, between Kabul and the countryside, between order and chaos, between a modernist impulse to join the world and the pull of an older Afghanistan: a tribal universe of village republics permeated by Islam. Now, Tamim Ansary draws on his Afghan background, Muslim roots, and Western and Afghan sources to explain history from the inside out, and to illuminate the long, internal struggle that the outside world has never fully understood. It is the story of a nation struggling to take form, a nation undermined by its own demons while, every 40 to 60 years, a great power crashes in and disrupts whatever progress has been made. Told in conversational, storytelling style, and focusing on key events and personalities, Games without Rules provides revelatory insight into a country at the center of political debate.

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Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan"In Games Without Rules, Tamim Ansary has written the most engaging, accessible and insightful history of Afghanistan. With gifted prose and revealing details, Ansary gives us the oft-neglected Afghan perspective of the wars, foreign meddling and palace intrigue that has defined the past few centuries between the Indus and Oxus. This brilliant book should be required reading for anyone involved in the current war there -- and anyone who wants to understand why Afghanistan will not be at peace anytime soon." Kirkus "A breezy, accessible overview of centuries of messy Afghan history, including the present military quagmire... As a native of Kabul, Ansary lends precious insight into the makeup of the typical Afghan village, with its tidy, self-sufficient, patriarchal hierarchy and need to keep the nomads at bay... Lively instruction on how Afghanistan has coped, and continues to cope, with being a strategic flash point." Christian Science Monitor"Games without Rules" explains longstanding problems and internal difficulties encountered in efforts toward nation-building in Afghanistan and shows how great power politics (and invasion) have been stalling the process for the past two centuries." San Jose Mercury News"Despite extensive reporting on the war in Afghanistan, San Francisco journalist and author Ansary thinks there's still a great deal of misunderstanding about the reasons for the conflict. In this history, he focuses on key developments that shaped current events." Booklist"Ansary tells the history of modern Afghanistan with a master storyteller's confidence...this is a nuanced, sophisticated historical narrative that strives to tell Afghan history from an Afghan perspective...The author's love for his native land and his optimism for its future shine through." Publishers Weekly, STARRED review "Ansary, an Afghan-born US citizen... offers an illuminating history of the country, providing not only a chronology but a deep cultural analysis that allows outsiders a comprehensive picture of Afghan mores and practices. This insider's perspective fills large gaps in contemporary outsiders' understandings of why these powers have failed and hopefully points the way towards forms of international cooperation that will work for Afghanistan rather than against it. Ansary has a gift for using informal language to illustrate his points in a way that doesn't compromise the legitimacy of his narrative. His ability to contextualize the history and situate it in culture, as well as to remind readers of when to keep track of important figures (sometimes for decades) is refreshing. Ansary has produced an invaluable resource to those curious about this tumultuous region." Geographical Magazine"As an Afghan-American, Tamim Ansary is well placed to present the Western reader with a penetrating view of his complex and often baffling native land. With the 2014 draw-down of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan approaching a better-late-than-never understanding of how the country works and its history is crucial if we're to avoid the mistakes of the past." New Statesman"(Ansary's) is an authentically Afghan voice, offering not an authoritative account of the ebb and flow of foreign entanglement in Afghanistan but a personal account of how an intelligent Afghan observer sees the course of events from the outside." Irish Times"Ansary has that rare gift of being able to blend an academic's knowledge with the skill of a natural storyteller. He if Afghanistan-born, and although he left when he was just 16, in 1964, he has clearly spent a lifetime collecting stories, which he has edited masterfully, knowing exactly when to move away from the major events and focus on the tiny details that give you a sense of what life must have been like for the country's many poor villagers, who often had no idea what was happening in their capital city. Refreshingly he keeps his focus on Afghans, with the foreigners appearing for brief periods, usually offering little and understanding less. I was gripped as I read the first 200 pages of GAMES WITHOUT RULES... The author brilliantly describes the personalities of these men and the conflict, conceit or foreign intervention that brought them to power."

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Tamim Ansary is the author of Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes and West of Kabul, East of New York, among other books. For ten years he wrote a monthly column for Encarta.com, and has published essays and commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Alternet, TomPaine.com, Edutopia, Parade, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. Born in Afghanistan in 1948, he moved to the U.S. in 1964. He lives in San Francisco, where he is director of the San Francisco Writers Workshop.

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Amazon.com: 4.6 von 5 Sternen  44 Rezensionen
24 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen like listening to the best storyteller in the world 21. November 2012
Von bookfan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I picked this up because I'm a fan of Ansary's fiction and memoir. I resolved to read it some time in the future when I get time. Then I made the mistake of glancing at page one. Okay, just one chapter, I thought. I read the whole book in four days with a constant awareness that I didn't have time for this, but I just couldn't stop. Then I remembered I'd had the same experience with other books he's written. I really don't have words to describe how rich and unique and surprising the story of Afghanistan is, but Ansary is the perfect guy to tell it.
25 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Outstanding cultural and political history! 26. November 2012
Von lit-in-the-last-frontier - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Of all the histories I have read on Afghanistan, and I have read more than a few, Tamim Ansary's is absolutely the best. Whether your knowledge is a clean slate and you are looking for one book that will explain this complex nation, or you are fairly conversant in the country, but want a brief refresher, Mr. Ansary will lay out everything you need to know in his latest offering. Games without Rules begins with the rise of the Durrani line and brings the reader up through the present, with reporting through May of 2012.

Tamim Ansary does a number of things in his book that make it especially accessible for readers, but chief among them is linking events in Afghanistan to events with which his readers might be more familiar, such as the fact that the opening of his work, the dawning of the Durrani Empire, with its founder Ahmad Shah Baba, known as Afghanistan's Founding Father, happened in 1747, roughly the same time as the founding of the United States of America. Over the course of reading the book the reader will also learn a great deal about the histories of India, Pakistan, and the neighboring central Asian republics, as the destinies of these nations and that of Afghanistan are all inter-linked. Another fact about Mr. Ansary's writing that becomes quickly apparent is that this is not the writing of a dry, boring scholar of a historian. While never stooping to comedy or disdain, he manages to always keep a storyteller's mien, full of adventure and humor and at times even anger and despair.

In addition to being written in an easily accessible style, this history is very well organized, carrying the reader seamlessly from one era into the next, clearly illustrating how each event, and not always those occurring solely within Afghanistan's borders, caused the next to proceed. Perhaps most valuable is Mr. Ansary's explanation of Afghanistan's placement upon the world stage-the role that it has played over the last two hundred years, so often caught up geographically in the maelstrom between world powers, for instance, between Russia and British India.

As he takes his reader along on a journey through the various powers, foreign and domestic, who have vied for power over her people, Tamim Ansary, in a marvelously conversant manner, gives a cultural education that is unparalleled. From the cities to the furthest reaches of the valleys, the governance and social customs of the country are explained, and he uses this information to break down for the reader exactly why he feels that attempts by various foreign powers over the centuries to govern the Afghani people have not succeeded. His analysis is insightful and well-laid-out, and for those not well-versed in the subject, this book will prove especially useful in helping you to understand exactly why the political and social situation there is so complex.

My one very slight reservation for my conservative readership is that Mr. Ansary is very clearly a liberal, and that does bleed through, especially with regards to our current president. He is quite a fan of the president's policies with regards to Afghanistan, something with which most conservatives do not agree. To give credit where credit is due, he also admits that Clinton made errors while in office. However, for the most part he does strive for partiality and is generally successful. No matter how conservative your leanings, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to read this book-Mr. Ansary's political views only come into play in the very last section and are toned down enough that even this conservative reviewer did not find them obtrusive enough to overwhelm all the excellent material contained within the rest of the book. And I personally found his views even here to be insightful and interesting, even if I might not agree with them.

In four hundred pages of reading a person's time will be well vested here. I give Tamim Ansary's newest history my highest endorsement, not only for the knowledge it imparts, but for its readability. If you read one book on the modern history of Afghanistan, her culture, her politics, and her role in our global peace (or otherwise), this should be the one you reach for.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A must read for understanding everything about Afghanistan history. 21. Dezember 2012
Von Bismillah Iqbal - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I've read a number of books on Afghanistan. Many sound the same almost as if they all copied one another. Tamim's Games without Rules is an exceptional book to the understanding of Afghan history. Reading the book feels like a straight forward conversation. I love how he gets into the humanistic values of the Afghan people. The true reasons why Afghanistan has been kept out from being part of the rest of the world. History books can have a heavy tone. This book does not miss a beat and tells it with a sense of ease. Read this and know why things are the way they are in that part of the world. Thanks and happy reading!
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Easy, and difficult, to read - an outstanding book 9. Mai 2013
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The author writes in a very conversational, story-telling, style. It's an easy read, but difficult for me in another way. As an Army officer in the Vietnam era, it's difficult to read about the mistakes we've repeated, and the people we've tried to help, but harmed, yet again in an admittedly different time and place. I think the author's statement that Afghanistan is a twenty-first century culture overlaying a twelfth century culture is probably his key point. Afghanistan's location is probably always going to make it a place where great powers, of one form or another, will contend for influence. Sadly, Pakistan - another state that isn't a state but a place, created when the British abandoned the area - is increasingly feeling the consequences of its nurturing of the Taliban.

It's an engaging read by a knowledgeable author who has lived a good part of the recent history. Sad, but ultimately hopeful. Would that our leaders in the US would read this book and learn from it before we recreate another tragedy both in another place and here, ultimately, at home. The consequences of Vietnam on our own veterans are peaking now, forty years later. I shudder to think of what we'll see in another 30-40 years as consequences of our "wars of convenience" and "wars of consequences".
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Gold Standard on Afghanistan 28. Januar 2013
Von Barry Willdorf - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Review: Games Without Rules, Tamim Ansary

Disclosure: Tamim Ansary has been my mentor at SF Writer's Workshop and is a friend. I have good taste and judgment. I might not have discovered this book had I not known him personally, but I am better off for it.

Games Without Rules is a much-needed volume delving into the history, Geo-politics and customs of Afghanistan, primarily from the seventeenth century to the present. It is too bad that this book wasn't written ten years ago and read by people in this country with the power to influence our foreign policy. Many lives and limbs, both of Americans and Afghans would have been spared. Many billions of dollars would not have been squandered. Tamim Ansary's book is that thorough, that persuasive.

Tamim Ansary as an Afghan-American. He is a scholar, an outstanding writer and an honest broker when it comes to an analysis of Afghanistan and its people. Games Without Rules reflects his candid assessment of that country and he tells its story with wit, sarcasm and introspection that are hallmarks of the man I know.

Browsing the myriad of footnotes and the bibliography, I noticed a number of articles and news reports that I had read when they were current. (Although not the books.) Then, when I finished the book, I had the feeling that I learned a hell of a lot more than I expected I would. That's because Mr. Ansary gets into the guts of the personalities and the geopolitics in ways that prove insightful and that a casual reader of news reports, such as myself, rarely bother with. Sure, I knew that Babrak Karmal was an incompetent communist lackey, replaced by a thug named Najibullah who ended up swinging from a Kabul lamppost, but that's about it. Yes, I know that Hamid Karzai is corrupt and unstable, but no one before Mr. Ansary put it in context and provided rational explanations for his erratic behavior. I suspected that the Taliban was financed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, the ISI, but no one before Mr. Ansary tied the Taliban's abrupt collapse and subsequent resurrection directly to ISI funding decisions. Nor had I focused on how today's Taliban differs from the one that was the scourge of the country before nine-eleven. On and on it went.

Mr. Ansary is unabashed in his preference for a secular, gender-equal, modern society--he wants Afghanistan to become the Switzerland of Central Asia-- but that does not prevent him from giving the khans, mullahs and impoverished, backward country folk a fair deal. Throughout Games Without Rules, Ansary reminds us that there are plenty of good reasons why the people of Afghanistan behave the way they do, from growing opium, to embracing radical Islam with its draconian gender practices, to selling out the country's resources and heritage for relative pittances. He explains that customs are different between the city folk and their country cousins (a circumstance not all that different from Russia, or which indeed we see hints of in our red state/blue state maps.) His brief provides us with something rarely revealed in the reportage of that country, context.

Ansary reminds us that Afghanistan has always been coveted real estate, despite its sparse population and rugged, unwelcoming terrain. It seems the country is repeatedly deemed strategically essential by one empire after another, be it Greek, Persian, Ottoman, Mogul, Russian, English or American. He gives us a litany of examples demonstrating it is an easy country to conquer yet an impossible country to rule. There are always a myriad of players both within and without its borders, every one eager to foil the designs of someone else. As a result of this constant dissonance Afghans of every ethnicity have developed a long tradition of waging guerrilla wars, peoples wars, some might say, that over time just wear down intruders, invaders and schemers.

Mr. Ansary ends his book on a hopeful note. Perhaps now foreigners will have learned their lesson. Military conquest is not a solution. I am neither as knowledgeable nor as hopeful. Kabul is prepared to sell the country's patrimony to the highest bidder. (Cue the Chinese.) It is also prepared to accommodate the reactionary tendencies of the Islamist/Jihadist/backwater interests. But these two divergent tendencies must clash and despite the patina of piety and fidelity to tradition economic interests will prevail. The outcome will inevitably bring Afghanistan into the twenty-first century, but I'm just not all that sure how the twenty-first century is going to work out.

In the final analysis, Games Without Rules is the gold standard for those who want to understand Afghanistan. You can't beat the writing. The story is compelling, with a full spectrum of dramatic grabbers: heroes, villains, betrayals, revenge, greed, pride, hubris, violence and sex. It has everything but a car chase. And it's all true. Five stars.
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