Brian Glyn Williams is a professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. He has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency tracking suicide bombers in Afghanistan and is the author of The Last Warlord, Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on Al Qaeda, Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to America’s Longest War, and The Crimean Tatars: The Diaspora Experience and the Forging of a Nation.
The Last Warlord is the spellbinding story of the legendary Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, a larger-than-life figure who guided US Special Forces to victory over the Taliban after 9/11.
Having gained unprecedented access to General Dostum, his family and sub-commanders, as well as local chieftains, mullahs, elders, Taliban prisoners and women’s rights activists, scholar Brian Glyn Williams paints a fascinating portrait of this Northern Alliance Uzbek commander who has been shrouded in mystery and contradicting hearsay. In contrast to sensational media accounts that have mythologized the “bear of a man with a gruff laugh” who some Uzbeks swear, has on occasion frightened people to death, Williams carefully chronicles Dostum’s rise from peasant villager to Uzbek leader and skilled strategist who has fought a long and bitter war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda fanatics that have sought to repress his people. Also revealed is Dostum’s surprising history as a defender of women’s rights and religious moderation.
In riveting detail, The Last Warlord spotlights the crucial Afghan contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom: how the CIA contacted the mysterious warrior Dostum to help US Special Forces wage a covert war in the mountains of Afghanistan, how respect and even friendship quickly grew between the Afghan and American fighting men, and how Dostum led his nomadic people charging into war the same way his ancestors had—on horseback. The result was one of the most decisive campaigns in the entire war on terror. The Last Warlord shows that, far from serving as an exotic backdrop for American heroics, it was these horse-mounted descendants of the Mongol warrior Genghis Khan that allowed the American military to overthrow the Taliban regime in a matter of weeks.
With the United States drawing down troops in 2014 and Dostum poised to re-enter the world stage to fight a resurgent Taliban, The Last Warlord is vital to understanding Afghanistan’s warlord culture and how it factors into Afghanistan’s past and future.
“A riveting account of a warlord’s rise to power that has all the drama, intrigue, and warfare of The Kite Runner, only this Afghan story is real.” – Scott C. Levi, associate professor of Central Asian history, Ohio State University
“A jewel. General Abdul Rashid Dostum is a crucial and colorful character in the United States’ stunning victory over the Taliban.” – Peter Eichstaedt, author of Above the Din of War
“Dostum’s story of never-ending battles, assassination attempts, and alliances forming and breaking in the blink of an eye is fascinating, whether he is regarded as hero or villain.” – Publishers Weekly
“The Last Warlord sheds essential light on the political challenges and drama that continue to grip Afghanistan. When the last regular US troops have left that country, the Uzbek fighter and politician Abdul Rashid—Dostum—as well as Tajiks, Hazaras, and Pashtun, will remain, and Williams’s book is an illuminating guide to what may lie ahead.” – Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers
“The Last Warlord is an in-depth look at one of the most important figures of the war in Afghanistan. Dostum played a key role in the early years of the war, and Williams does a great job telling the story of a very complex man and the Americans that fought with him.” – Kevin Maurer, co-author of No Easy Day
“Williams offers an intimate portrait not only of the warrior, but of the Afghan nation that so many have tried and failed to get their arms around.” – Bubblews.com