Books & Reading
The following are recommended readings:
Books on Central Asia
“Descent into Chaos”, by Ahmed Rashid. On Afghanistan after the US invasion.
“Jihad”, by Ahmed Rashid. On the rise of Islamic movements such as the Taliban and the IMU in Central Asia.
“Taliban”, by Ahmed Rashid. This contemporary history of the Taliban.
“The Fragmentation of Afghanistan.”, by Barnett R. Rubin. On the political and social condition of contemporary Afghanistan.
Books on History
“Sacred Space and Holy War”, by Juan Cole. On history of Shia Islam and its impact on political history.
“The Age of Revolution”, by Eric Hobsbawm. On revolutionary Europe and political economy from 1789-1848.
“Landscape & Memory”, by Simon Schama. On Western art, political, and narrative history shaped by its geography and mythologies.
“Guns, Germs, and Steel”, by Jared Diamond. On global history and human development from pre-history to now.
Books on India
“Uncle Sam’s Nuclear Cabin”, by Prabir Purkayastha, Ninan Koshy, and M.K. Bhadrakumar. On the foreign policy and security policy of India in relation to the region after the US-India Nuclear Pact.
Books on Iraq
“The Occupation of Iraq”, by Ali A. Allawi. The best primer on post-invasion Iraq and full of information on its political and social condition since the US invasion.
“Muqtada”, by Patrick Cockburn. On the contemporary history of Iraq and Muqtada al-Sadr.
Books on Iran
“Roots of Revolution”, by Nikki R. Keddie. Insightful analysis of the history, economics, and politics of Iran leading up to the Islamic revolution. A must read.
“Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran”, edited by Mark J. Gasirowski and Malcolm Byrne. Analysis and history of a deeply democratic movement under Mosaddeq, overthrown through the leadership of the CIA and British intelligence. This incident is at the heart of much of the anti-American sentiment in Iran and is an example of another chapter of direct foreign intervention in Iran in the 20th century.
“Under Five Shahs”, by Hassan Arfa. Auto-biography of an Iranian General and his account of the evolution of Iran in the early 20th century.
Books on the Middle East
“Pity the Nation”, by Robert Fisk. On the political history of Lebanon. A must read not only to learn about Lebanon to have a deeper understanding of politics in the Middle East.
“The Kurds”, by Hassan Arfa. On the history of the Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria and their rise of national identity in the early 20th century.
“The Great War for Civilization”, by Robert Fisk. On the political history of the Middle East since the First World War. Great primer, chalk full of information, and solid analysis. A must read.
Books on Theory and Philosophy
“In Defense of Lost Causes“, by Slavoj Zizek. Critical theory on social and cultural life. Heavy use of Lacanian psychoanalysis.
“Empire“, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. A reinterpretation of the dynamics and composition of power in the post Cold War period.
“Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System“, by John McMurtry. A critique of economics as a system of ethical value.
“Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art“, by Alain Badiou. An essay on the potential for emancipation in contemporary art.
Books on the USA
“Skunk Works”, by Ben R. Rich, and Leo Janos. The story of one of the US’s top R&D aerospace divisions tied to military contracts.
Books on War
“Just and Unjust Wars”, by Michael Walzer. On the ethics of war and international law.
Articles and Essays on Pakistan
“The Idiot’s Guide to Pakistan“, by Nicholas Schmidle.