My new book: The Taliban Reader


My new book is out (finally). The Taliban Reader is somehow the culmination of years of work to drive studies of the Taliban back to primary sources. Some of this work was accidental; more recently it was more purposeful. The book I produced (together with Felix Kuehn) is long and detailed.

Comments and feedback prior to publication were extremely positive. It'll presumably take readers a while to start getting some real independent reviews in, but I look forward to feedback and whatever conversation is generated off the back of it all.

You can pick up a copy at any good bookshop or from Amazon here.

My First Arabic Book Translation

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I’ve been sitting on this for a while. 

Early in 2017, I was lucky to get put in touch with Sami Al-Hajj and al-Jazeera by a good friend. They were looking for someone to translate Sami’s memoirs from Arabic into English. I had done similar work in the past, working Zaeef’s memoirs from his Guantánamo time that later expanded into My Life With the Taliban. I had never done any serious translation from Arabic, however, particularly of this length.

I finished translating a while back. It was both harder and more enjoyable than I had expected. Harder in that it requires an intense focus that can’t really let up while the translation is happening. More enjoyable since I realised the process was something that brought in a lot of creativity to get the language ‘just right’.

Today, Sami’s memoirs have been published. You can download the PDF version via Al-Jazeera here. It looks like Kindle and iBooks versions will be made available in due course as well.

I hope you get a chance to give this book a read. Not only is it some work that I spent a good chunk of time working on, but it’s a really useful and moving account of someone who passed through Guantánamo. In particular, Sami was often on a hunger strike so there is a lot of detail on his mental state and coping mechanisms, as well as the way the medical authorities at Guantánamo attempted to 'deal' with the problem.