A Man and a Motorcycle: How Hamid Karzai Came to Power

Bette Dam. Ipso Facto, $15.30 trade paper (246p) ISBN 978-90-77386-13-2
Reporter Dam meticulously recounts Hamid Karzai’s rise to power, drawing on the experiences she’s had living in Afghanistan for the past eight years, including multiple meetings with the president. In fact, she recalls being surprised, as a woman, by the level of access she had to him, and to Afghan politicians in general. Armed with this first-hand knowledge, Dam begins by laying out the system of tribal nepotism and patronage that keeps the country running but hinders it from advancing into a functioning democracy. She goes on to show how those systems were disrupted by the arrival of the Taliban and restored under Karzai, despite American efforts to paint the new regime as a paragon of democratic government. Dam also outlines how American military might was co-opted by regional warlords in power struggles neither U.S. policy makers nor troops fully understood. Military history enthusiasts and students of comparative culture will be grateful the author has decided to share her unique perspective on Karzai and Afghanistan. The book’s focus on the minutiae of the Afghan president’s life and career can be overwhelming, but it quickly becomes clear that only this level of detail will allow Americans to understand a very different culture. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 11/24/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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