Descent into Chaos

Descent into Chaos

The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781440631047
  • 560 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


The #1 New York Times bestselling author provides a shocking analysis of the crisis in Pakistan and the renewed radicalism threatening Afghanistan and the West.

Ahmed Rashid is “Pakistan’s best and bravest reporter” (Christopher Hitchens). His unique knowledge of this vast and complex region allows him a panoramic vision and nuance that no Western writer can emulate.

His book Taliban first introduced American readers to the brutal regime that hijacked Afghanistan and harbored the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Now, Rashid examines the region and the corridors of power in Washington and Europe to see how the promised nation building in these countries has pro-gressed. His conclusions are devastating: An unstable and nuclear-armed Pakistan, a renewed al’ Qaeda profiting from a booming opium trade, and a Taliban resurgence and reconquest. While Iraq continues to attract most of American media and military might, Rashid argues that Pakistan and Afghanistan are where the conflict will finally be played out and that these failing states pose a graver threat to global security than the Middle East.

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and the crisis in Pakistan are only the beginning. Rashid assesses what her death means for the region and the future. Rashid has unparalleled access to the figures in this global drama, and provides up-to-the-minute analysis better than anyone else. Descent Into Chaos will do for Central Asia what Thomas Rick’s Fiasco did for Iraq — offer a blistering critique of the Bush administration and an impassioned call to correct our failed strategy in the region.
Descent into Chaos

Descent into Chaos

Ahmed Rashid


Arthur Ross Book Award – winner
Asia Society Award Nominee – winner
Lionel Gelber Prize – winner


“Not only provides thoughtful, detailed dissection of seminal events in Central Asian recent history, but an insightful snapshot into future scenarios of where the roadmaps to terror and peace may be headed.”
-Greg Mortenson, author of The New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea

-Wolf Blitzer

“Rashid, a Pakistani journalist, is that most valuable of political analysts: both insider and outsider to the problem he studies. His book should be read by anyone pondering how America might stop widening Osama bin Ladin’s pool of bomb-clad volunteers.”
- Chicago Tribune

“[A] brilliant and passionate book.”
-The New York Review of Books

Table of Contents

Descent into ChaosMaps
Countries and Cities of Central Asia
Ethnic Distribution Within Pakistan and Afghanistan
Afghan Provinces and Federally Administered Tribal Areas
NATO Deployment and Provincial Reconstruction Team Locations in Afghanistan, 2007
Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan, 2007
Military Offensives Launched by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, 2007-2008


Imperial Overreach and Nation Building

Part One: 9/11 And War

1. A Man With A Mission
The Unending Conflict in Afghanistan

2. “The U.S. Will Act Like a Wounded Bear”
Pakistan’s Long Search for Its Soul

3. The Chief Executive’s Schizophrenia
Pakistan, the United Nations, and the United States Before 9/11

4. Attack!
Retaliation and Invasion

5. The Search for a Settlement
Afghanistan and Pakistan at Odds

Part Two: The Politics of the Post-9/11 World

6. A Nuclear State of Mind
India, Pakistan, and the War of Permanent Instability

7. The One-Billion-Dollar Warlords
The War Within Afghanistan

8. Musharraf’s Lost Moment
Political Expediency and Authoritarian Rule

Part Three: The Failure of Nation Building

9. Afghanistan I
Economic Reconstruction

10. Afghanistan II
Rebuilding Security

11. Double-Dealing with Islamic Extremism
Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan

12. Taliban Resurgent
The Taliban Return Home

Part Four: Descent Into Chaos

13. Al Qaeda’s Bolt-Hole
Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

14. America Shows The Way
The Disappeared and the Rendered

15. Drugs and Thugs
Opium Fuels the Insurgency

16. Who Lost Uzbekistan?
Tyranny in Central Asia

17. The Taliban Offensive
Battling for Control of Afghanistan, 2006-2007

18. The Death of an Icon
Pakistan Struggles to Survive

19. Conclusion
A Fragile Future

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