In his edited volume, Giustozzi, a fellow at the London School of Economics, has put together a timely and relevant collection of essays that advances the ongoing debate over what he terms the "main war of the early twenty-first century."
Based on the firsthand experiences of many of its contributors, which include scholars, journalists, political consultants, and military strategists, Giustozzi provides a broad and varied perspective of Afghanistan and the Neo-Taliban, the next generation Taliban, who have resurged as a result of a prolonged U.S. and Western presence. The majority of the essays address the various provinces in Afghanistan and the complex nature of the relationship between the Neo-Taliban, the regional government, and the local population. Each essay provides a historical perspective on the emergence of the Taliban after the Soviet occupation and a nuanced picture of the nature of the insurgency as it currently exists.
As a collection, the essays paint a comprehensive picture of the Neo-Taliban, not as a unified organization but as a combination of disparate groups, which form a loosely coordinated network of criminals and ideologues. Further, by emphasizing command and control, Giustozzi underscores the importance of organizational dynamics and the necessity of understanding the spheres of power and influence in this very traditional society. This is where this book Decoding the New Taliban shines, not necessarily as a prescription for success in the conflict but rather as a collection of essays providing insights into the tribal history, structure, and ongoing dynamics of Afghanistan.
Decoding the New Taliban will not be the stuff of neighborhood book clubs: The authors assume the readers have a considerable premise of knowledge about the Neo-Taliban and the geography of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the volume is instructive. The historical context provided by many of the authors underscores the nature and scope of the threat posed by the Neo-Taliban. More broadly, they explain how contemporary threats are a hybridization of traditional and conventional capabilities.
Decoding the New Taliban is a serious and comprehensive collection of essays written by authorities on their subject matter that will directly benefit those who find themselves on the ground with the Afghan people and among the still evolving Neo-Taliban.