Item description for War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet, Revised Edition by Eric Margolis & Eric S. Margolis...
Overview Examines the complex geopolitics that have made the Khyber Pass and the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges the center of long-term conflicts and the source of tension between India and China.
Publishers Description What will the post-Taliban government of Afghanistan look like? How will the war in Afghanistan affect the already unstable politics of Central Asia? In "War at the Top of the World," veteran foreign correspondent Eric Margolis presents a revelatory history of the complicated and volatile conflicts that have entangled Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, the Soviet Union, and many others. By 1999, Pakistan had proven they have medium-range nuclear weapons, and now the threat that their government could be taken over by a radical Islamic fundamentalist faction is stronger than ever. In fact, Osama bin Laden has already claimed to have a nuclear weapon. How could this have happened? Margolis plays witness to the escalating conflicts of the past decade, tracing disputes over Afghanistan, as well as those ever neighboring Kashmir and Tibet, back to their Cold War roots, exploring clashes that continue to threaten to destabilize the region today. Combining vivid first-hand accounts of a war correspondent with a historical and strategic overview of the region, Margolis guides the reader through the geopolitical complexities of the area and its key players. He offers a clear, concise analysis of a complicated and little-understood part of the world that is home to a quarter of the world's population. Fascinating and now more timely than ever, "War at the Top of the World" is an extraordinary read for anyone interested in the current global balance of power.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.01" Width: 6" Height: 0.81" Weight: 1.14 lbs.
Release Date Mar 29, 2002
Edition Revised & Updat
ISBN 0415934680 ISBN13 9780415934688
Reviews - What do customers think about War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet, Revised Edition?
Disappointingly biased May 27, 2008
I have been a reader of Eric Margolis since my university days - over a decade ago. I bought the book and passed it on to my father. Ignore the glowing, positive reviews. Either they have not read the book, or their personal biases (Margolis is rightly perceived as an apologist for Islamic fundamentalism) prevent an accurate assessment. The book makes for interesting reading, but is full of inaccuracies and a strange bias - Margolis comes across as very bigoted against Indians (specifically Hindus) and is told from the basic point of view of a Pakistani army officer or Mujahedin, who Margolis homo-erotically fawns over.
Margolis' 'sympathy' for Pakistan clouds his ability to offer informed analysis. As it is, the book is mere propaganda for the theocratic state of Pakistan.
I'll still keep reading Margolis because he's amusing - but not because I feel that he's providing me with objective views, researched and conclusions supported by critically examined evidence.
Biased writing, not much depth or knowledge fo India May 18, 2008
Eric does not have much depth knowledge of India or its traditions or cultural nuances. The book almost seeems to be the views of Pakistani propaganda machine. Most Indians reading this book would be very dismissive of the condescending attitute of the attitude of Mr. Margolis towards India. His speaking of circumcision and that Indians thinking of Muslims as sexually robust shows the stupidity of analysis used in writing about peoples and racial prejudices prelavant through out. Not a very scholarly work.
Evident Bias, Lacks Substantiation Feb 19, 2008
While Mr. Margolis' book provides interesting background on the conflicts in Central Asia, it is difficult to identify the demarcation between fact and fiction. The book has not a single footnote to identify sources or substantiate his claims. This makes it difficult to accept Mr. Margolis' more inflammatory allegations as anything more than gossip designed to validate his point of view. Combined with his evident bias, I would caution readers to approach this book with a fair degree of skepticism.
Learn the background to today's wars in Afghanistan and beyond Jan 14, 2008
Eric Margolis's "War at the top of the World" provides, as "The Economist" described it an "gripping and instructive" account of the issues and background to the contemporary conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, that majority muslim state in a majority Hindu country. But it does much more too. Published in 2000 before smoke from 9-11 effectively blocked, at least in the popular media in the US and much of the west, any kind of wider analysis of modern geopolitics in the Himalaya - South/West Asia region, it provides observers of the region ...and of America's involvement in Afghanistan... with much of the background and wider context needed to unravel the otherwise seemingly bizarre politics of the region. It's a roadmap to the realities of the region that is easy to follow and hard to put down.
It is an excellent, indeed superior, journalistic account that integrates historical and geopolitical analysis, with a sufficient levening of first person travel writing to turn non-fiction into a page turner. Margolis makes the great spine of the Himalayas come alive. As someone who has spent time in the region and in Ladakh ("Little Tibet") Margolis's work added extra depth to my traveller's experience.
The recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto has boosted the relevance of Margolis's book even further. Pakistan, he reminds us, owes it's name to an anagram of Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Sind, yet only two of those four provinces are currently under Pakistani rule. The founders had bigger ideas. It also derives it's name from the word "Paak", meaning "pure". Pakistan's founders imagined it as a "land of the pure", a kind of muslim Israel. Maybe even a muslim "Eretz Israel". And like Israel, Pakistan has had a continuing struggle between those with secular versus theocratic visions for the country. Overlayng this spiritual struggle is the more down to earth conflict between the forces of "feudalistic democracy" as represented by the Bhutto's, who 'own' their populist political party in much the same way as the family owns vast landed estates, versus the Army, which like the military in Indonesia and Burma, is really a self governing corporate state within the state, a military economic complex that may direct as much as 25% of Pakistan's economy. Margolis's approach to geopolitics rightfully considers it as best seen as a branch of geography.
Pakistan's populous hug the valleys of the Indus in much the same way as Egypt's hug the Nile. Away from this long lifeline, terrain not humanity dominates. This makes Pakistan a strategically vulnerable state, prone to Indian dissection, as much from geography as history. In order to protect their rear, Pakistan perceives a need to dominate Afghanistan and has done so for decades through tribal proxies of various descriptions. Hollywood likes to portray the Afghan Soviet War as "Charlie Wilson's war", a CIA directed campaign against Soviet invaders. A kind of Bay of Pigs that actually worked. A more accurate label would have been "General Zia's war", as it was the Afghan military dictator, who overthrew corrupt civilian predecessors, who saw the need and opportunity to defeat the Soviets with Afghan tribal proxies and who wrangled US, British and Chinese underwriting of a campaign directed and supplied by Pakistani military intelligence, the ISI. More recently the so called "Taliban", actually the militant arm of the Pashtun tribes, who constitute some 55% of the population of Afghanistan have become ISI's favoured proxies.
Pakistani vulnerability, like that of Israel, also drove their quest for nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have both strategic and tactical relevance to the Pakistanis. Besides the high profile sabre rattling with nuclear India, they are seen as a possible answer to the Indian Army's armour superiority, especially in the relatively open and "tank friendly" desert country of the south east. Margolis doesn't mention it but there are echoes here of NATO's cold war adoption of nuclear first strike posture as a counter to the Soviet's superiority in conventional armoured forces. Unlike American demands for Pakistan to help 'catch' Osama Bin Laden, these geo-strategic concerns actually have "life or death" relevance to Islamabad. Margolis shows how the nuclear tango between Pakistan and India is really a three way dance. In all probability India may have commenced it's drive for the bomb before China, even if Peking beat them to the first test. Margolis notes how India commenced it's nuclear program following their humiliation to superior Chinese infantry and logistics following Himalayan border conflicts of the early sixties. A doubly humiliating event as Nehru, a patron of "Third World" anti-imperialism and a die hard fabian socialist found himself pleading for support from the US Navy. India's bomb, of course, realised under the reign of Indira Gandhi was meant to perform multiple duty, as a badge of status, a deterrent to China and a bludgeon against Pakistan. In response Pakistani premier Bhutto, Benazir's father, ultimately executed by Zia, commenced the quest for an Islamic bomb and said his people would "eat grass" if needed to pay for it.
Margolis describes the history, geography and geopolitics of the "Little Tibets", Ladakh, Sikkim and Bhuttan as well as "Big Tibet" too. He shows China's drive to dominate the Tibetan plateau, a drive that has now given them the high ground over the Indian subcontinent and an integrated surveillance, military, logistics and transport network in the region that India would be pushing up hill, literally, to match.
As mentioned earlier, this is not just a perceptive analysis of diplomatic and defence matters, but a personal story. Margolis describes the key places, towns, peoples and individuals he met during many journeys into the Himalayas, Kashmir and Tibet. It includes first person descriptions of meetings with the Dalai Lama and jeep rides with Pakistani colonels. Margolis has the knack of description. I would not have considered Deng Xiaoping, 20th century Asia's greatest revolutionary before reading Margolis, but my guess is that when legacies are finally audited a century from now, Deng will certainly eclipse Mao. Although the final chapter on possible futures scenarios for China is highly speculative, most of his book is solidly grounded in the forces shaping today's headlines.
Heavily Baised Apr 22, 2007
I am surprised how easy it is to put down a nation of a billion people with a history ranging back to over 3 Millennia as thieving indifferent thugs. That's the impression I got out of this book about India and Indian people as such. The book has been written in an extremely biased manner. As if Mr. Margolis is making references straight out of a book he picked up for himself from a Madrasah in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. It seems Mr. Margolis is on a never ending romantic honeymoon with the Islamic fundamentalists and seems to romanticize this whole notion of a holy struggle. Not sure what book he is working on but I am sure the next time I would be reading about Mohammad Atta and how Mr. Margolis had a big crush on him. I left the book when I read his extremely racist remarks like "Godless Hindus" and the "infidels" Read this book if you are an India hater it will certainly boost their ego for the night.