- Recent Publications
Afghanistan: A Cultural History, by St John Simpson. Northampton: Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., 2012. 160 pages. $19.95. Dr. St John Simpson, senior curator responsible for the pre-Islamic collections at the British museum, furnishes the reader with a broad overview of the history of Afghanistan’s varied peoples. This book does not privilege the modern time period, and does not confine itself to within Afghanistan’s modern-day borders. Instead, it is a cultural survey beginning in the prehistoric period, covering the Achaemenids, [End Page 758] Alexander the Great, Huns, Turks, Medieval Islamic dynasties, Mongols, Mughals, and the creation of the modern state. Simpson utilizes both historical and archeological evidence, and always has his eye toward the wider regional context surrounding Afghanistan, true to its moniker as the “heart of Asia.” Illustrated with color photos, Afghanistan: A Cultural History is an important read for anyone interested in gaining a broad perspective on a this conflict-ridden, yet vitally important region of the world. (DW)
Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands, ed. by Shahzad Bashir and Robert D. Crews. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012. 336 pages. $27.95. In this volume, Shahzad Bashir and Robert Crews have compiled a selection of essays on the political, economic, and social forces that affect the lives of those living in the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. With the self-described goal of “exploding Western misunderstandings” about the region, Under the Drones tries to untangle some of the complexities of the border areas in order to help “America and its European allies realign their priorities in the region to address genuine problems, rather than fabricated ones.” A variety of topics are addressed in this volume, ranging from the tribal nature of the Taliban, to a sociopolitical analysis of Pakistani truck decoration, to the impact of the drug trade on Afghan women. (DW)
The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict With Iran, by David Crist. New York: Penguin, 2012. 656 pages. $36. David Crist’s account of 30 years of conflict between Iran and the United States is the product of over a decade of research, drawing on interviews with hundreds of individuals and archival research utilizing US military and government archives. Crist details the history of US-Iran tension since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, describing covert conflict, secret negotiations, complexities, paradoxes, and misunderstandings besetting relations between the two countries. It provides an insider’s look at one of the most important and complex but least understood aspects of American foreign policy in the Middle East. (NJ)
Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War, by Yaakov Katz and Yoaz Hendel. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2012. 254 pages. $29.95. Katz and Hendel detail over 30 years of shadow warfare between archrivals Iran and Israel, drawing heavily on access to key members of Israel’s defense establishment to examine Israeli decision-making regarding the conflict with post-revolutionary Iran and the prospect of the country becoming a nuclear weapons state. Covering intelligence, proxy warfare, and the options at the disposal of Israeli decision-makers, as well the possible repercussions of military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Katz and Hendel provide an analysis of one of the most pressing and complicated geopolitical issues facing the Middle East today. (NJ)
Israel’s Silent Defender: An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Israeli Intelligence, ed. by Amos Gilboa and Ephraim Lapid. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House Ltd., 2012. 408 pages. $29.95. This compilation of essays by experts and insiders from the Israeli intelligence community details the history, composition, operational successes, and challenges of the various intelligence agencies in Israel. Edited by Reserve Generals Amos Gilboa and Ephraim Lapid, veterans of Israeli military intelligence, the book includes essays detailing the founding of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and Israel Defense Intelligence agencies, as well as famous operations carried out by Israeli intelligence, such as the intelligence collection that led to Israel’s stunning success in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the hostage rescue at Entebbe. It also includes essays describing the role of human intelligence (HUMINT), signals intelligence...