In the mid twentieth century, Afghans believed their nation could be a model of economic and social development that would inspire the world. Instead, political conflict, foreign invasion, and civil war have left the country impoverished and politically dysfunctional. Each of the men Edwards profiles were engaged in the political struggles of the country's recent history. They hoped to see Afghanistan become a more just and democratic nation. But their visions for their country were radically different, and in the end, all three failed and were killed or exiled. Now, Afghanistan is associated with international terrorism, drug trafficking, and repression. Before Taliban tells these men's stories and provides a thorough analysis of why their dreams for a progressive nation lie in ruins while the Taliban has succeeded. In Edwards's able hands, this culturally informed biography provides a mesmerizing and revealing look into the social and cultural contexts of political change.