In This Review

War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet
War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet
By Eric Margolis
Routledge, 2000, 256 pp

A vivid account of warfare in the highest mountain ranges in the world. War correspondent Margolis covered the fighting in Afghanistan and Kashmir, the crisis in Tibet, and the border standoff between India and China. He begins by providing an excellent review of the Marxist takeover in Afghanistan in the late 1970s and the subsequent struggle that brought in the Soviet Union and Islamic fundmentalists. As Margolis sees it, the success of the Islamist forces in Afghanistan heightened tensions in Kashmir, provoking a nationalist turn in both Pakistan and India. Much of his writing's power comes from the descriptions of soldiering at 15,000 feet up and 60 degrees below. But Margolis is equally interested in describing the new "Great Game" now being played out by four nuclear powers -- China, India, Russia, and Pakistan -- and warns that they may be "locked in a long-term rivalry that may erupt into the first major conflict of the twenty-first century." Although backed by considerable evidence about the seriousness of the Kashmir conflict and the instability of Afghanistan, his alarmist depiction of Chinese-Indian tensions is less convincing, perhaps brought into the analysis for an inflated big-power dimension.