“This book’s fascinating perspective exposes layers of political and human complexity in individuals who are often shrouded by intrigue, and brings nuance to the general Western understanding of the Taliban. This extensively researched, eminently readable work greatly enhances public knowledge of the years leading up to the occupation of Afghanistan, and will be welcomed by specialists and general readers alike.”

Ilan Greenberg, Publisher and Editorial Director, Coda Media


“Jonathan Cristol makes a valuable contribution to what is known publicly about America’s slide toward war and tragedy in Afghanistan. Cristol’s book offers the vital context missing from so many accounts of Washington’s interactions with the Taliban.”

Michael Moran, CEO, Transformative; author of The Reckoning: Debt, Democracy and the Future of American Power


This book tells the story of the United States’ relationship with the Taliban from the start of the Taliban movement until its retreat from Kabul in the face of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The US and the Taliban held countless meetings, but could never come to a workable arrangement, and this book examines both why diplomatic recognition was so important to the Taliban government and why the US refused to recognize it. It presents a concise, readable, and interesting perspective on US/Taliban relations from the fall of Kabul in 1996 until the fall of Kabul in 2001.


Jonathan Cristol is Research Fellow in the Levermore Global Scholars Program at Adelphi University, and Senior Fellow at the Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College, USA.