This book, subtitled "Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia, " was written by a Pakistani journalist who has covered Afghanistan for decades.
I bought it shortly after 9/11 because I wanted to understand more about the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The book was especially interesting to read at that point because it had been written before 9/11, so it had a different perspective than articles that were being written at the time.
I'm glad I read it. It has a tremendous amount of information, and puts it into a larger historical perspective, focusing especially on the "Great Game" for oil.
At the time I am writing this review, it is a few days after Benazir Bhutto was shot, and news from Pakistan is dominating the headlines. The Taliban (who originated in Pakistan before going into Afghanistan) or one of their allies seem to be the most likely culprits. Once again, understanding the Taliban is critical to understanding what is going on in the world, and for that I would recommend this book.
Although I found the book rewarding, I did find it difficult to read. The author goes into great detail on a very large cast of characters. Much of it is written in a dry just-the-facts-maam style. So it was slow going for me. Worth it in the end, but slow.