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1. Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political
2. Afghanistan: A Short History of
3. Afghanistan: A Military History
4. Invisible History: Afghanistan's
5. Ghost Wars: The Secret History
6. A Brief History of Afghanistan
7. In the Graveyard of Empires: America's
8. Modern Afghanistan: A History
9. The Photographer: Into War-torn
10. Afghanistan: A Modern History
11. Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures
12. The History of Afghanistan (The
13. Afghanistan: A Military History
14. Afghanistan: Political Frailty
15. Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires:
16. Histories Are Mirrors: The Path
17. Afghanistan: The People (Lands,
18. Toughing It Out in Afghanistan
19. Boots on the Ground: Stories of
20. After the Taliban: Nation-Building

1. Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)
by Thomas Barfield
Hardcover: 400 Pages (2010-04-18)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691145687
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Afghanistan traces the historic struggles and the changing nature of political authority in this volatile region of the world, from the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century to the Taliban resurgence today.

Thomas Barfield introduces readers to the bewildering diversity of tribal and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, explaining what unites them as Afghans despite the regional, cultural, and political differences that divide them. He shows how governing these peoples was relatively easy when power was concentrated in a small dynastic elite, but how this delicate political order broke down in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when Afghanistan's rulers mobilized rural militias to expel first the British and later the Soviets. Armed insurgency proved remarkably successful against the foreign occupiers, but it also undermined the Afghan government's authority and rendered the country ever more difficult to govern as time passed. Barfield vividly describes how Afghanistan's armed factions plunged the country into a civil war, giving rise to clerical rule by the Taliban and Afghanistan's isolation from the world. He examines why the American invasion in the wake of September 11 toppled the Taliban so quickly, and how this easy victory lulled the United States into falsely believing that a viable state could be built just as easily.

Afghanistan is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how a land conquered and ruled by foreign dynasties for more than a thousand years became the "graveyard of empires" for the British and Soviets, and what the United States must do to avoid a similar fate.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)


4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Fascinating read.Many times you wonder about the countries that we hear about in the news and to completely understand the back-story it is important to pick up a book like this one.

To call Afghanistan backward would be improper; to call them out of date would be accurate.The author takes is through the turmoil that the country has dealt with for nearly 3 centuries.The conquers and those that the people defeated.

In the end you come out with a deep respect for these people but wonder what is the best course of action to take.Should the US support this country with troops and financial aid or would it be best to back out and allow the country to do what it has always done.

The author makes the process much more convoluted when he clearly shows his bias against President Bush near the end of the book.He clearly does not appreciate the near complete withdrawal of troops after the defeat of the Taliban but then makes it clear that the problems that have arisen in the aftermath are issues that only Afghanistan can correct...so which is it?

The fact that this country has so much potential and growth makes it a country to continue to watch for years to come.

4-0 out of 5 stars An unknown region explored and illuminated
Ever since The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and Three Cups of Tea, I've found Afghanistan to be a strangely compelling region. In those books, there was a different sense of the humanity of the people compared to what is seen on the nightly news, and it was difficult to align the two in my mind. Mention Afghanistan to someone and all they usually come up with is the notorious Taliban or the crumbling ruins that appear on the news. How accurate is that image?

When I first received Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, I hoped to find that answer and at the same time, that the book wouldn't be too dry or heavy on political rhetoric. I was pleased to find that it's an incredibly readable history book that makes the subject understandable and reveals the complicated lives of the people of Afghanistan. The author manages to compile the history without a political agenda or motive.

First off is recognizing that culturally, Afghanistan is made up of both tribal and nontribal ethnic groups. These groups mean everything to the people, and unlike some cultures, "tribal and ethnic groups take primacy over the individual." In other words, "individuals support decisions made by their group even when such support has negative consequences for themselves." This is a somewhat unique trait, and contributes to the devotion many have for their leaders. They also have an intense oral history that is repeated through the ages that also creates a sense of cohesiveness between past and present. These people live in a land crisscrossed by history, from Genghis Khan to Alexander the Great (see the photo of his castle above right). It was conflict between tribal regions, a civil war, that made the ordinary Afghan people eager to have the US come in to intervene with the Taliban, as "a drowning person is not too picky about who throws him a line....Afghanistan had either been ignored or abused by the outside world as it descended into chaos."

The Taliban, known for their desire to spread extremely conservative Islam, had riddled the nation with violence towards women and other religions. They've managed to alienate even those countries that were providing needed humanitarian aid. They do not have the support of the `ordinary' citizen, as at times the Taliban members have numbered below 150 members. A good portion of the book deals with how and why the Taliban gained such power. Another portion discusses the occupation by Britain and Soviet Russia prior to more recent actions with the US.

The historical details are interesting, but it was the smaller things that were more revealing. For example, why is it that on the news you usually see only children or old people? Their hardscrabble lives, tending outdoors to agriculture and focused on manual labor, shows up on their faces and they appear prematurely aged. Are the devastated streets of broken concrete typical? Actually no, as the majority of citizens live in small villages far from urban areas such as Kabul. Is it just a land of dust and opium poppies? No again, as stone fruit, grapes, nuts, citrus fruits, melons, and rice are grown in different parts of the country, depending on what areas are irrigated. The famous mountainous region, known to have been a hiding place for bin Laden, is in the center of Afghanistan. Its steepness creates dynamic changes in climate in just a few hours of travel, and creates a diverse variety of crops.

The current situation in Afghanistan is covered in the sixth chapter, where Barfield addresses the complicated social concerns that continually plague the country. The resurgence of the Taliban and their religious ideology reverses social progress, while modern policies want to focus on reducing the religious power of clerics. Additional goals include establishing rights for women, tolerance of non-Muslim faiths, implementing educational policies, and modernizing archaic laws to better represent the desires of the majority.

5-0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan
Excellent history and musings on the current situation.I llike the fact that Mr. Barfield clearly states that making decisions on present day information is hazardous--academic folks seldom mention that!For someone like me who was highly ignorant about Afghanistan this was a wonderful primer. Lots of foreign names and obscure locales to remember, but the central issues are clearly delineated.Would have liked to have seen maps that included province names and boundaries and more labeling of important locales and incidents that occurred there.All in all, thoroughly informative and enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars The view from where the people live
According to Thomas Barfield, the only way the Afghans could rid their country of the Russians was to make it ungovernable. Having gotten the Russians out, they have been unable to govern themselves, either.

However, based on this impressive review, Afghanistan was never really governed anyway, certainly not in a modern sense. This can be said of any Muslim majority state, with the difference that Afghanistan is, at least according to Barfield, a nation, unlike, say, Iraq or Turkey. It is not quite clear how the Afghans, who divide themselves ethnically, managed to reach and maintain a sense of nationhood, but evidently they have done so.

Barfield, an anthropologist at Boston University, did field work in Afghanistan as far back at the early 1970s and is one of few Americans to have lived in the country's rural villages. Since almost all Afghans, until recently, lived in the backwoods, this puts Barfield in a strong position to report.

A determinist, Barfield traces much of what Afghanistan is about to its geography and to developments from thousands of years ago, but he also asserts that the decade of Russian occupation changed Afghanistan permanently. Rural Afghans fled to cities, the economy was wrecked, but education was, briefly, expanded. These changes overlie, but they do not erase the ancient geographical, environmental, religious and social structure.

It is thus no surprise that President Hamid Karzai, put in power by outsiders because they thought that he was, to some degree, like them, should have lashed out at the powers that keep him in power, choosing deaths of civilians as an excuse. Many more civilians are killed by the Taliban, by tribal insurgents and by Muslim outsiders than by NATO, but a Karzai would never call them to book in the same way.

Barfield masterfully explains why: Until very recently, there was almost no mass politics in the country. The endless, violent disputes were between ethnic factions and among a ruling line (the Durrani Pashtuns). In the deeply divided nation, no faction could expect to be superior by itself, so no one could afford to permanently alienate any other faction. Political loyalty does not exist in Afghanistan, and it is not unusual for men who were being murdered (and raped, although Barfield does not mention this) by another clan one day to become allies of their enemies a few days later.

There are other points that have escaped those who would meddle in Afghanistan. The Pashtuns do not recognize the Durand Line that puts some in Afghanistan and some in Pakistan. Pakistan, like Germany in 1914, has to worry about a two-front war, so it is not in Pakistan's interest to see a strong, independent and democratic Afghanistan.

Although the scene was set even before Alexander's armies marched through, and Afghanistan was part of various Turko-Persian empires for a millenium, Barfield says Afghan politics effectively starts in the 1740s, when a Durrani dynasty was established that lasted until 1979.

Even non-Pashtuns have a strong sense that the country is made to be run by a Pashtun (Karzai is a Pashtun, as is Taliban leader Mullah Omar, though neither comes from the Durrani elite). Until recently, this deference to the Durranis was, more or less, an asset toward stability. It prevented all-out brawls when it came time for succession, since not every Afghan with a rifle and cousins with rifles was thought eligible to contend for the throne. This shortened the violent interregnums, but it did nothing to prevent them. For the past century, every leader was either murdered or exiled, until the re-election of Karzai.

It is instructive to consider the remaking of the Afghan polity in the 1890s, compared with what went on in the Ottoman Empire at the same time, although Barfield does not do this. Nevertheless, both traditionalist monarchies were revolutionized from the top, the Ottomans in an allegedly liberal manner with a constitution, the Afghans in a typically despotic manner by Abdur Rahman.

The result, though, in each case was a centralization and the destruction of the traditional peripheral restraints on the the power of the executive. In neither case was there modernization, and the brief effort of the king in the '20s in that direction resulted in deposition and civil war in Afghanistan. That assured that no subsequent executive would make even a gesture toward modernity.

As a result, Afghanistan stagnated at a time when even other Muslim countries were making some changes. Since the liberalizing king Amanullah fell on the issue of educating women, which horrified the community, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Afghanistan's misery is its religion.

If there is a deficiency in this meaty book, it is the slight attention given Islam, which gets about two pages. About all Barfield has to say about it is that Afghans believe themselves to have the purest and oldest conception of the religion, an opinion not supported by history and bizarre because they do not know Arabic. This makes them even more resistant to reformation than other Muslims.

Barfield notes that earlier students also treated Islam as a given, like sunlight, not because it was not important but because it was central. Nothing in Afghanistan happens outside the context of religion.

It is is odd that Barfield should skimp this topic, especially since, he notes, Sufism is so strong there. Sufism is generally outside the torments of political Islam.

In a brief summation, Barfield says, "To change the status quo, there needs to be an end to violence within Afghanistan and threats from its neighbors." A tall order, and he does not believe Karzai is up to it. He has no other candidate to offer, though. ... Read more

2. Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics
by Martin Ewans
Paperback: 368 Pages (2002-09-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$5.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060505087
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A fascinating chronicle of a nation's turbulent history.

Reaching back to earliest times, Martin Ewans examines the historical evolution of one of today's most dangerous breeding grounds of global terrorism. After a succession of early dynasties and the emergence of an Afghan empire during the eighteenth century, the nineteenth and early twentieth century saw a fierce power struggle between Russia and Britain for supremacy in Afghanistan that was ended by the nation's proclamation of independence in 1919. A communist coup in the late 1970s overthrew the established regime and led to the invasion of Soviet troops in 1979. Roughly a decade later, the Soviet Union withdrew, condemning Afghanistan to a civil war that tore apart the nation's last remnants of religious, ethnic, and political unity. It was into this climate that the Taliban was born.

Today, war-torn and economically destitute, Afghanistan faces unique challenges as it looks toward an uncertain future. Martin Ewans carefully weighs the lessons of history to provide a frank look at Afghanistan's prospects and the international resonances of the nation's immense task of total political and economic reconstruction.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Sir Martin Ewans
Ewan's book is an excellent primer for those who need to get up to speed on Afghanistan history through 2002.Although it doesn't cover "current" events of Operation Enduring Freedom and the ensuing efforts by the international community, it sets the conditions for a deeper understanding of the Afghan people and the challenges we all face in the region.

4-0 out of 5 stars A bit dry but comprehensive - some unsupported opinions too
Taking the long view, one can certainly see the evolution of a society and its politics from this work.

Personally, I think that the economic life of a country and its geography fashion many of its aspects but Ewans glosses over these if he mentions them at all.Afghanistan sits in the middle of the great Silk Road and serves as a path between East and West.It also seems to have a fruitful climate in parts and, according to the UN, has a population of over 28,000,000.

During the 19th century "Great Game" rivalry between Russia and England, it became a pawn and suffered TWO wars with Britain with a third just after WWI.

The writing is a bit dry, lacking human "juice" for its characters.Yet it packs a lot of history into 299 pages of text.

As a counterpoint, I'd recommend "The Man Who Would be King" by Ben MacIntyre which focuses on a single American adventurer in Afghanistan circa 1830.One gets a much better human and cultural understanding of the country and its people during that limited period.

As other commenters have noted, the most recent period from just before the Russian invasion through the Taliban's rule is the weakest portion.It does assemble a large number of facts I've not seen consolidated elsewhere.However, he seems to go far too easy on the Communist ideology that bears a great resemblance to the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and resulted in much the same carnage and disorders.The failure of the indigenous Communists eventually resulted in the Russian invasion.

One unsupported assertion is that efforts by the US and NATO to suppress the Taliban following 9/11/2001 have increased the number of terrorists.Recent polls from Afghanistan show great support from the people there for the US-lead effort and disgust with the Taliban.The author seems to adopt the Euro standard disdain for American aid to the trouble Afghan people.

Worthy of the four stars but with some significant weaknesses.It just fails to give one a complete, balanced, and coherent knowledge of Afghanistan.

4-0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan in Context
Former diplomat Martin Ewans' interest in Afghanistan shines in this well-written book on the history of Afghanistan and the events that has made this country what it is today.Ewans talks about the ancient history, the rise of the Pashtun, the British domination which warped and jaded the fabled compassion and openness of the people, the often overlooked and turbulent developments of the mid-20th century and a rare and balanced view of the soviet occupation from 1979 to the mid-eighties.

For students of Afghanistan who have trouble wading through dry histories, this book is a breath of fresh air.Well written and engaging, this work does not get bogged down with an overabundance of details, but rather gives a clear layout of the histories inlaid with rich details that bring to life the people who made the history.A clear logical flow makes the narrative easy to follow and easy to refer back to previous events.Highly recommended by a student of this fascinating country.

5-0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan
For anyone interested in the history of Afghanistan, its culture, and people, you cannot go wrong in reading this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Good Book.Many names to keep track of but that's history for you.I enjoyed it. ... Read more

3. Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban
by Stephen Tanner
Paperback: 392 Pages (2009-04-28)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$11.27
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306818264
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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For over 2,500 years, the forbidding territory of Afghanistan has served as a vital crossroads for armies and has witnessed history-shaping clashes between civilizations: Greek, Arab, Mongol, and Tartar, and, in more recent times, British, Russian, and American. When U.S. troops entered Afghanistan in the weeks following September 11, 2001, they overthrew the Afghan Taliban regime and sent the terrorists it harbored on the run. But America’s initial easy victory is in sharp contrast to the difficulties it faces today in confronting the Taliban resurgence.

Originally published in 2002, Stephen Tanner’s Afghanistan has now been completely updated to include the crucial turn of events since America first entered the country.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

2-0 out of 5 stars Little of substance!
Tanner has written a exceedingly mistake-ridden book, his analysis is almost always bogged down in ever repeated stereotypes about Afghans and their history, and, to top it off, it (his analysis) almost always has little of substance. For the most part, he pays no in depth attention to new work in some of the fields he is traversing. And a list of his factual mistakes and inaccurate or outdated assumptions would be too long to write. But a few prominent mistakes and lacunae should be noted. On pg 8 he notes that in our time the term Afghan applies to all the ethnic groups of Afghanistan, such as Pashtuns and the various Turkic ethnic groups. He says that Tajiks are a Turkic group, a very basic error. Tajiks are technically grouped with the Pashtuns as a Indo-Iranian (in the sense used in linguistics and such) ethnic-linguistic group, and this is what makes them unique in the Turkic dominated Transoxiana, for they are remnants of Central Asia's former Indo-Iranian past, and the remnants of Persian culture. On pg 75 he states "In 632 the Prophet Mohammed (sic) ascended to heaven from Jerusalem, leaving behind a fanatical army of horseman to spread his message.", but there are two problems with this, namely, one, that Muslim belief states that Muhammad ascended to heaven from Jerusalem in the early part of the middle of his career, while he was still at Mecca, not after he died. Secondly, Muhammad did not leave a fanatical army at his death. The Islamic Arab army had to be created by the first four Caliphs, and they did not intend to spread Islam. The early Islamic conquests had little to do with Islam and a lot to do with conquest. They simply were not interested in converts, their attitude was quite tolerant towards other monotheistic faiths (churches serving as mosques on Friday's), there is no archeological evidence of great destruction of cities, and archeological evidence for the widespread growing of wine and the eating of pork long after the conquests were complete are enough to refute the notion that Islam spread quickly, and that it was spread by the sword. And anyway, Islam was an extremely porous entity in those early days, with no real consensus on ritual or theology. Also, "fireenga" literally means "without color", not foreigner. Mohammad Zia Ul Haq was a Punjabi, not a Pashtun. The Taliban is still alive and well. And Pashtunistan (or as they say in Pakistan, Puktunkhaw) is a issue that has lost its momentum, and few Pashtuns on the Pakistani side (or for that matter, the Afghan side) of the border would support a independent state for Pashtuns. Mistakes like these, and ignorance of contemporary scholarship isnormal for this book. This work is best suited for someone with no knowledge of Afghanistan, and someone who is willing to search for better sources later.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very helpful book
This book will help improve your overall understand to a very hard problem to understand.A hard place to do business for sure, understand what others have and have not done and the complexe relationship of people in Afghanistan over the year you need to read a book like this to help you understand the real depth of what we are dealing with.

4-0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan 101
One of the first four books any new student to Afghanistan should read along with Dupree's Afghanistan, Schofield's Afghan Frontier, and Rubin's Fragmentation of Afghanistan.

4-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive!
This book pretty much covers the whole military history of Afghanistan up to about 2007 and is well worth the read. Could do with more maps to help explain battles etc but overall higly recommended!

3-0 out of 5 stars An Incomplete Military History
The subtitle of Stephen Tanner's book about Afghanistan describes it as being "A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War Against the Taliban." However, there is a serious omission.

It is now known that the Roma, known pejoratively as "gypsies," were driven from their homes in northern India during the first 25 to 30 years of the 11th Century. A largely warrior class in their native country, the Roma were forced on a long and tragic diaspora by a series of 17 raids led by Mahmud of Ghazni, the first sultan of the Ghaznavid dynasty in Afghanistan. Described on one website as "a zealous Sunni Moslem," Mahmud looted northern India of great riches, drove out the Roma in the name of Islam, and annexed the Punjab in 1021.

Perhaps for future editions, Mr. Tanner might wish to collectthis information from modern Roma scholars such as Dr. Ian Hancock.

Chris Frazier
... Read more

4. Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story
by Paul Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Gould
Paperback: 300 Pages (2009-01-01)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$11.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0872864944
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Despite official declarations, the war in Afghanistan is far from over; in fact, it’s escalating. Seven years after 9/11, the Taliban continue to regroup, attack, and claim influence over most of the region. This book presents a fresh, comprehensive analysis of Afghanistan’s political history that begins at the roots of tribal leadership and ultimately emphasizes our present political moment and the impact of ongoing US military intervention.

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, first went to Afghanistan in 1981 and have reported for CBS News, Nightline, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Their documentary Between Three Worlds was broadcast by PBS.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars 4 stars
Very good, but not as comprehensive as I had hoped. Not enough material on the early years, particularly the nineteenth century.

5-0 out of 5 stars Detailed & dense, but worth the work
Our Read & Practice Peacemaking group picked up this book in an effort to become more informed about Afghanistan. We were initially overwhelmed by the level of detail, but then settled into the uncomfortable epic of blundering imperialism that has been Afghanistan's story - and particularly America's interaction with this country. We sent letters to the President, Secretary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Gates recommending that they read and discuss Fitzgerald and Gould's work, because it isn't clear to us that Afghanistan's Invisible History is being taken into account in current U.S. foreign policy. The reply we received doesn't imply that the book was purchased and read at The White House, but perhaps if more of Fitzgerald and Gould's fans wrote the President....?

5-0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan's Untold Story
Both books arrived timely and in good condition.
Thanks you Amazon.com & thanks to the shippers.
Good job ~ well done!

4-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Research, Well Written, But it's Imperialism
Fitzgerald and Gould add another book to the shelf of important work on the many Great Games, from Hopkirk's of that title and his Like Hidden Fire, to Coll's Ghost Wars, all of Rashid's work, and Hodson's Under A Sickle Moon. Throw in McCoy's old Politics of Heroin and, naturally, Kipling. For those who can retain good humor about the topic and want to ease into the history, see the Flashman novels. Of these, Fitzgerald and Gould's may be the best beginning point for a new investigator as they do a fine job on the long history of the AF-Pak region and bring the reader up to early 2009. That the authors are among the few who have actually paid attention to Afghanistan for 25+ years and have fought their way through the media fog is to their great credit as well. Radicals may be drawn to the book by Chomsky's endorsement. But this is not a radical book, and that's a problem. Radicalism goes to the root. Fitzgerald and Gould do note the Unocal vs Bridas battles, but only in passing. What the authors, bourgeoisie nationalists, come away with is not an examination of imperialism and its twin, capitalism, on a relentless search for profits via resources, cheap labor, raw materials, markets, and regional control, but an analysis of a conspiracy of bad ideas (often originating in failed "Trotskyities" who became reactionaries--whatever happened to Jay Lovestone?) on one hand, and dreamy solutions of "can't we all live together in a 'new kind of international cooperation'?" Well, no we cannot. The tangled web of imperialism, stretching out from the UK to India, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, really everywhere, can only be unraveled by going to its source, exploitation and inequality. For that, back to the Old Man: Marx.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely insightful and valuable background...
...for understanding how we came to be in the predicament that we're in, Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story gives an unusually clear summary of historical events that led to the present (2009). Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald have obviously done their homework and gone to great lengths both in travels to Afghanistan and research to give us a picture of what's transpired, heretofore unobtainable in mainstream media. I GREATLY appreciate Elizabeth's and Paul's dedication in creating this book and found it most illuminating.
I encourage readers to not be deterred at the outset---the beginning of the book very rapidly traverses the early historical aspects of Afghanistan and the setting in relations with India, Iran, Russia, and Western Europe and is almost a whirlwind of names of leaders to keep up with.But it settles into more modest and comfortable pace as it enters the 20th century when the US entered the picture, inheriting the absurd mantle that Britain created in their 19th century era of imperialist behavior.
Though the work is not without bias---it's hard to create such a history free of SOME sort of bias---as long as the reader is alert to that fact of life, as with any book, he or she can interpret the events in his or her own world view, derive meaning and harvest a rich crop of concepts and political factors from the in-depth work and years of research of the authors in this subject. ... Read more

5. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
by Steve Coll
Paperback: 738 Pages (2004-12-28)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$8.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143034669
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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To what extent did America’s best intelligence analysts grasp the rising threat of Islamist radicalism? Who tried to stop bin Laden and why did they fail? Comprehensively and for the first time, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Steve Coll recounts the history of the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks. Based on scrupulous research and firsthand accounts by key government, intelligence, and military personnel both foreign and American, Coll details the secret history of the CIA’s role in Afghanistan, the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of bin Laden, and the failed efforts by U.S. forces to find and assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan.Amazon.com Review
Steve Coll's Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 offers revealing details of the CIA's involvement in the evolution of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the years before the September 11 attacks. From the beginning, Coll shows how the CIA's on-again, off-again engagement with Afghanistan after the end of the Soviet war left officials at Langley with inadequate resources and intelligence to appreciate the emerging power of the Taliban. He also demonstrates how Afghanistan became a deadly playing field for international politics where Soviet, Pakistani, and U.S. agents armed and trained a succession of warring factions. At the same time, the book, though opinionated, is not solely a critique of the agency. Coll balances accounts of CIA failures with the success stories, like the capture of Mir Amal Kasi. Coll, managing editor for the Washington Post, covered Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992. He demonstrates unprecedented access to records of White House meetings and to formerly classified material, and his command of Saudi, Pakistani, and Afghani politics is impressive. He also provides a seeming insider's perspective on personalities like George Tenet, William Casey, and anti-terrorism czar, Richard Clarke ("who seemed to wield enormous power precisely because hardly anyone knew who he was or what exactly he did for a living"). Coll manages to weave his research into a narrative that sometimes has the feel of a Tom Clancy novel yet never crosses into excess. While comprehensive, Coll's book may be hard going for those looking for a direct account of the events leading to the 9-11 attacks. The CIA's 1998 engagement with bin Laden as a target for capture begins a full two-thirds of the way into Ghost Wars, only after a lengthy march through developments during the Carter, Reagan, and early Clinton Presidencies. But this is not a critique of Coll's efforts; just a warning that some stamina is required to keep up. Ghost Wars is a complex study of intelligence operations and an invaluable resource for those seeking a nuanced understanding of how a small band of extremists rose to inflict incalculable damage on American soil. --Patrick O'Kelley ... Read more

Customer Reviews (185)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read, given we're all paying the price.
Simply an amazing story, well told. The amazing part is that the vast majority of Americans don't know the history of our involvement in Afghanistan, given the current expenditures of American blood and cash.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly describes the horrible plotting and failings that led up to that fateful day.
"Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001", by Steve Coll, is the hauntingly detailed and accurate description of the twenty year lead-up to the events of September 11, 2001.As the title describes, it details Soviet and United States involvement in Pakistan and Afghanistan; but it accounts for so much more than that.It highlights the rise of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.It describes the ebbs and flows of CIA and Intelligence Community interest in Afghanistan and general terrorism issues.It especially details the failing of the United States intelligence community and various presidents to adequately understand and deal with the growing problems in Central and South Asia.This is a book to be read and studied thoroughly so that we do not repeat past mistakes.It can be read as companion to the 9/11 Commission Report.However, the details of 9/11 itself are not contained in this book, which ends on September 10, 2001.However, the reader gets a full understand in of the horrible plotting and failings that led up to that fateful day.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ghost Wars
My wife really likes it.We bought the book after seeing it on TV.

4-0 out of 5 stars great book
intelligently truthful book.
exciting read that I would reccomend

Kenneth haft

4-0 out of 5 stars Used Book
This book was in satisfactory condition but it was not "like new" as I expected. ... Read more

6. A Brief History of Afghanistan
by Shaista Wahab, Barry Youngerman
Paperback: 354 Pages (2010-09)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$14.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0816082197
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good information
This book is just long enough to inform about history but not so long that it turns boring.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Boring History of Afghanistan
This is a very basic and brief history of Afghanistan.It appears to be most suitable as a high school or freshman college introductory text.There are brief chapters on ancient history and culture, with more detailed chapters for more modern times.While the book covers social and cultural history, it mostly focuses on the political history of the country, leaning even more toward the political realm as it gets into more recent history.

Overall, for me, this text was much too basic.While the early chapters on ancient history and culture were informative, the later chapters, for someone who has studied the history of the country, were not as useful.

I would say this is a good starting point for someone who knows nothing about the history of Afghanistan.The drawback is the writing style is very tedious and boring.I feel sorry for any students who are forced to read this.The writing is clear enough, but it is just plain drab.

5-0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan: At the Vortex of Worldpower Rivalry
Afghanistan is often viewed through the lens of "the war on terror."
But area specialists, however, see Afghanistan as the gateway to the energy-rich Central Asian and Caspian fossil-fuel deposists. Endemic violence and dwindling supply from traditional sources serves as a midwife among world powers to control sources now thought to surpass the Middle East. Afghanistan is key to their strategies.

While the war on terror is the official justification proffered for resultant and permanent military bases, in reality, competition between Iran, Russia, China, and the United States for untapped reserves along with pipeline access is the unstated, motive force.

Shaista Wahab's "A Brief History of Afghanistan" is a remarkable view of what makes Afghanistan tick. A thorough analysis of religion, the people, the land, and the political dynamism that is the mosaic of Afghanistan.

In view of superpower activities in this remote and austere land, those with a serious interest in the fabric of the country along with its tumultous history will find this historical work educational as well as compelling.

Richly illustrated, and invaluable as a research tool, this book is a must for serious students of Afghanistan.

Bruce G. Richardson
Author: "Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror."
... Read more

7. In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan
by Seth G. Jones
Paperback: 464 Pages (2010-04-12)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$6.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393338517
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A definitive account of the American experience in Afghanistan from the rise of the Taliban to the depths of the insurgency.

After the swift defeat of the Taliban in 2001, American optimism has steadily evaporated in the face of mounting violence; a new "war of a thousand cuts" has now brought the country to its knees. In the Graveyard of Empires is a political history of Afghanistan in the "Age of Terror" from 2001 to 2009, exploring the fundamental tragedy of America's longest war since Vietnam.

After a brief survey of the great empires in Afghanistan—the campaigns of Alexander the Great, the British in the era of Kipling, and the late Soviet Union—Seth G. Jones examines the central question of our own war: how did an insurgency develop? Following the September 11 attacks, the United States successfully overthrew the Taliban regime. It established security throughout the country—killing, capturing, or scattering most of al Qa'ida's senior operatives—and Afghanistan finally began to emerge from more than two decades of struggle and conflict. But Jones argues that as early as 2001 planning for the Iraq War siphoned off resources and talented personnel, undermining the gains that had been made. After eight years, he says, the United States has managed to push al Qa'ida's headquarters about one hundred miles across the border into Pakistan, the distance from New York to Philadelphia.

While observing the tense and often adversarial relationship between NATO allies in the Coalition, Jones—who has distinguished himself at RAND and was recently named by Esquire as one of the "Best and Brightest" young policy experts—introduces us to key figures on both sides of the war. Harnessing important new research and integrating thousands of declassified government documents, Jones then analyzes the insurgency from a historical and structural point of view, showing how a rising drug trade, poor security forces, and pervasive corruption undermined the Karzai government, while Americans abandoned a successful strategy, failed to provide the necessary support, and allowed a growing sanctuary for insurgents in Pakistan to catalyze the Taliban resurgence.

Examining what has worked thus far—and what has not—this serious and important book underscores the challenges we face in stabilizing the country and explains where we went wrong and what we must do if the United States is to avoid the disastrous fate that has befallen many of the great world powers to enter the region. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars When will it stop?
Excellent book, very eye opening. I believe George Santayana said it best "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."Apparently we never learned from the Russians as recently as the mid 1980's.Also the English and the Russians in what they called "The Great Game."As far as Afghanistan, the Middle East, Islam, etc. this is only just the beginning.The Muslim's will not be happy until the green flag of Islam is flying over every present day capitol in every country of the world.Until then another quote by Santayana is somewhat appropriate ""Only the dead have seen the end of war,".

1-0 out of 5 stars Poorly written rehash of Stephen Tanner and Hopkirk
Tanner's history of Afghanistan, Barfield's insider knowledge, Rashid's political insights, Hopkirk's sweeping great game narrative, Jalal's Mujahideen, or Olivier Roy's studies of Islam and Afghanistan are all books worth reading and re-reading. This book is not. It is however, a re-hash of all of the above with the best parts (their joy in the topic and the written word) taken out. Using RAND's name to sell bad books further undermines their cache.

5-0 out of 5 stars In the Graveyard of Empires

an important read. what matters knowledge if man is forever condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past?

4-0 out of 5 stars An Interesting book
An interesting book about the various empires throughout history which have tried to conquer Afghanistan, only to be repelled. The basis of this historical lesson is to give context to America's current quagmire Book is relatively short in relation to the substance. It does not spend much time regarding Alexander the Great 3rd century BC, the British Empire of the 19th Century, and the Soviet's failure in the 1980's, the author simply gives you a quick summary. The book's intentions are to spend most of the time relating to America's current situation. A somewhat haphazardlyresearched evaluation of American foreign policy in Afghanistan. Seth Jones claims to have invested significant time and effort in researching for this book - and he has added a largelist ofreferences at the end of the book. Unfortunately, this effort does not always translate into the book as there are lots of random pieces of information with little serious analysis. He tried to give a message that no one has succeeded in an invasion against Afghanistan in more than 2000 years - and Nato and its forces may be no different.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book
A good comprehensive account of the War in Afghanistan; although as new information continues to come to light and as the US strategy in Afghanistan changes this book may need updating or else will fail to capture the true state of war in afghanistan. ... Read more

8. Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival
by Amin Saikal
Paperback: 352 Pages (2006-11-28)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$18.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1845113160
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Afghanistan's history is a sad one: Soviet invasion in 1979; Pakistan-backed internal conflict in the 1980s; the Taliban regime and then the US invasion after the catastrophe of September 11th. Why does Afghanistan remain so vulnerable to domestic instability, foreign intervention and ideological extremism? Amin Saikal provides us with a sweeping new understanding of this troubled country that grounds Afghanistan's problems in rivalries stemming from a series of dynastic alliances within the successive royal families from the end of the eighteenth century to the pro-Communist coup of 1978. This is the definitive study of Afghanistan.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

Modern Afghanistan
Most books about Afghanistan, are written from the perspective of an informed outsider. Often times this is someone with significant academic experience and even some time on the ground, in country. An argument could be made that the outsider's perspective is a good thing - and has its advantages. Someone who has not experienced the violence that has characterized much of Afghanistan's recent history (1970s to date) is not as personally invested in the events, and can therefore approach the subject more objectively. Again: outsiders are less likely to be subject to ethnic bias, than are those that hail from within those ethnic groups. For all that, however, something has to be said for the advantages of the insider. Some kinds of knowledge are only gained by one who as actually lived the events about which they write. The author of this book falls into the latter category.

Modern Afghanistan is a book about Afghan history, from an insider's viewpoint. The author suggests, up front that "virtually all western scholarly works [on Afghanistan] overlooked some fundamental issues". He numbers these issues as three, and structures his book accordingly. The issues are these: "the dynamic interactive relationship which had evolved between the factors of royal polygamy, major power rivalry and ideological extremism in heavily influencing the evolution of the modern Afghan state ever since its foundation in 1747". The author presents that history broken down chronologically according to Afghanistan's successive rulers. Because of this, it is a history of Afghanistan's elite.Perhaps another example of the fact that history is written by the winners.

As for what the author promises: the book promises much and delivers some. I say that because while I found good information, the book did not contain for me the great revelation that the author promised at the outset. When compared to other books on the subject. Saikal's book is a good compliment to Barnett Rubin's "The Fragmentation of Afghanistan" or Oliver Roy's "Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan". It is similar in scope, content and style to both of those, but does provide a somewhat different perspective. For those wishing to understand the background history of afghanistan, this book is well worth the time and effort invested to read it.
... Read more

9. The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders
by Emmanuel Guibert
Paperback: 288 Pages (2009-05-12)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$13.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1596433752
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com Review
Book Description
In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union. This graphic novel/photo-journal is a record of one reporter's arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan accompanying the Doctors Without Borders. Didier Lefèvre’s photography, paired with the art of Emmanuel Guibert, tells the powerful story of a mission undertaken by men and women dedicated to mending the wounds of war.

Take a Look Inside The Photographer
These color panels and striking landscapes document Didier Lefèvre's journey across the Hindu Kush mountains with Doctors Without Borders (click each image to see the full page).

Mountain crossing with a caravan of horses and donkeys

Clinic in northern Afghanistan's Yaftal Valley

... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Painfully real, beautifully told
This just sucks you in as you read.I'm not a fan of graphic novels, but this transcends that genre, melding photography with drawing to tell the story of a Doctors beyond Borders mission to Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation there.Not only a great story, but it provides useful background to current events.

5-0 out of 5 stars A powerful way to remember someone who did more than his part to help us understand the world
Beyond the headlines, behind the countless stories of war in Afghanistan, and what it means to live there now, lie millions of stories. Human stories, personal histories, and day-to-day activities that can be downright banal if not for the war, religion, and politics that constantly affect everything and everyone living there. There is always the question of how we got here, how Afghanistan reached this point in its history, and what we in North America don't understand about the country.

The Photographer does not exactly sum up everything, but that's not its job. Its role is a deceptively simple one. It's "merely" the story of a photographer, Didier Lefèvre, hired to document the work of several physicians working for Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan in July 1986. To say it's informative is an understatement.

What Lefèvre experienced--beginning with adjusting to the heat, followed by learning to acclimate socially in this conservative country--is epic in scale, and the book's heft gives proper exposure to Lefèvre's life. The Photographer was originally published in Lefèvre's native France, where it's sold 250,000 copies. Now a worldwide phenomenon, its U.S. release is an event, as it should be. The story deserves it. Lefèvre deserves it.

It's hard to describe what Lefèvre went through in a short synopsis. He returned with 4,000 photos, substantially fewer teeth and less body weight, and a severe case of exhaustion. In the book, he goes through a cute "initiation" from the doctors, earns their trust and respect, and then becomes part of this culture and society that is at once so fascinating and so foreign to him.

The thousands of photos Lefèvre took remained unpublished for the most part for decades after his return. It was his stories of his time there that got the most airing, but mostly only for his friends. One of those friends, Emmanuel Guibert (Alan's War), became the conduit for creating The Photographer, and the book is richer for it. Guibert has a knack for lending his subtle pencils to true life stories, and the way his artwork seamlessly blends in with Lefèvre's photographs is brilliant. That's in large part due to the stellar work of designer Frédéric Lemercier.

An afterword to The Photographer gives an update on the key players of the story, which is a thankfully thorough explanation for readers, who will inevitably be left craving more. Lefèvre was indeed someone whose eyes opened up new insights for others. That he shared them in this remarkable book is a wonderful statement about his life and a powerful way to remember someone who did more than his part to help us understand the world a little bit better.

-- John Hogan

5-0 out of 5 stars Most prized book
The Photographer is without a doubt within the top ten books of my collection. I have recently become a fan of the graphic novel and consider this among its best expressions. If you are not yet a fan, don't let that put you off. True, it is more than graphic novel. The blending of what must be award winning pictures from Afghanistan with the carefully drawn characters and situations makes this book compelling and fun to read. It may be trite to say, but you do feel like you are there, something hard to achieve with straight narrative.

The story is a simple one, of a caravan moving through remote regions of the war torn country to deliver medical supplies and aid. What could have been told in essay form or as a short memoir and succeeded well enough became a timeless lens on a special place and journey.

There are photographs of the men (and one important woman) who make the dangerous trip. In the beginning, you see the secret handshake as they negotiate for their pack animals. This is but one small example of the wonders in this volume.

Giving this book five stars felt a little unfair...it deserves six...as do the men and women of Doctors Sans Frontiers.

4-0 out of 5 stars An amazing adventure.
This is a beautiful story.The images, pictures, colors make for the most intense movie ever and the story is Afghanistan as seen by Didier and not by politicians or sentimentalists.
Great translation as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Bookschlepper Recommends
The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Didier Lefèvre (the photojournalist), Emmanuel Guibert (the graphic artist) and Frederic Lémércier, translated from the French. A creative solution to a problem: what do you do with reels of stunning photos from the Russian-Afghan war after the talented photographer has died? Answer: use his proof sheets and journal notes and supplement them with graphic panels. This combination memoir of a naïve young man's first trip to the battlefield and his excellent and candid photos of DWB in action are augmented by "comic-strip" panels to fill in the blanks in the adventure. It works extremely well. It is, moreover, a good story that also deepens our understanding of Afghanistan while highlighting the modus operandi of dedicated NGO medical personnel in a war zone. Didier is young and innocent, and, thus, brave. He sets out to return from the field alone. He is kidnapped, robbed, close to death, in desperate straits before a local chieftain saves him. A dramatic story, well told. And, now that bloggers are running around the world reporting on trouble spots, this should be required preparatory reading so they don't blunder across boundaries and become the news themselves. ... Read more

10. Afghanistan: A Modern History
by Angelo Rasanayagam
Paperback: 336 Pages (2005-11-05)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$16.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1850438579
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Afghanistan has long been the focal point of East-West relations, from the 19th and early 20th centuries when its mountain ranges provided the arena where the world's greatest powers sought to expand their influence to its center role in international struggles today. Squeezed between four empires--Russia, China, India, and Persia--Afghanistan's tortured history provides an extraordinary glimpse into the patterns of world movements. This serious, yet accessible history of modern Afghanistan is of vital importance for understanding the country's current crisis and is essential reading for historians, policy makers, and all those interested in the state of the world today.
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Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars A general preview - yeah right !
Well ... this is not a bad book! If you want to learn something about the 19th century or early 20th century Afghanistan.

On the other hand, if u need fresh info, and think "Well look at this book, it was printed in May 2003! So it must be current and cover things up to ... hmmm ... beginning of 2003 ??" And that is a mistake ... up to about 2000. or 2001. is OK, but then it starts talking not of Afghanistan but all the popular stuff ... drugs, Osama, 9/11 ... just no Afghanistan!
That is a BIG minus in my world!

4-0 out of 5 stars Detailed but Insightful
A very good book that helps to explain Afghanistan’s present situation by describing the conflicts and power struggles of the past. It is hard to keep track of all the names of Afghani warlords and tribal leaders but I do not fault the author for this. The devastation caused as a result of super power struggles during the Cold War is made abundantly clear. The book demonstrates how little loyalty Afghan leaders and family have toward each other.The book describes a level of suffering that is hard for North American’s to imagine.Unfortunately if the past is any indication the future, does not look bright for Afghanistan.One of the clear themes of the book is how the complex Afghanistan political and ethnic situations defy simple solutions. I was impressed by the author’s unbiased approach and his insightful predictions.His suggestions to reduce future violence are novel and very thought provoking. ... Read more

11. Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures
by Fredrik Hiebert
Paperback: 304 Pages (2008-05-20)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$15.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1426202954
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Almost 30 years ago, a precious trove of art was spirited away from the National Museum of Afghanistan by a small group of "keyholders" —museum guards, curators, and antiquities lovers who risked their lives to save the country’s cultural treasures. Their actions spared these magnificent pieces from the threat of destruction, first by the invading Soviets in 1979 and more recently by the Taliban. Exquisitely crafted in gold and ivory, the artifacts illustrate Afghanistan’s key place at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, at the center of the ancient Silk Road—a rich heritage to be displayed at four major U.S. museums through 2009. Crowning this headline-making exhibition is a famous hoard of Bactrian gold, considered to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.

To help create the exhibit and book, archaeologist and National Geographic Society Fellow Fredrik T. Hiebert inventoried the artifacts at the request of the Afghan government. Gorgeously photographed and elegantly packaged, the collection shines in this official companion to the much anticipated and widely covered tour.

For the eager audiences who will visit, and for legions of art and history lovers across the United States, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures provides a beautiful, affordable keepsake, a handsome gift, and a rare opportunity to appreciate this matchless tradition of artistry and the steadfast human spirit that preserved it. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Afghani History and Culture
The Afghanis have gone through a lot.They have suffered for about 30 years now.Their culture and heritage have been destroyed and the Taliban have tried to force their beliefs on everyone.This culture throughout history has been pretty progressive in many ways but have always had rightist movements that kept it down.Several rulers and leaders have tried to promote the rights of women only to be successful for a short time before being slapped down by more conservative forces.This book is great for those wanting to learn about the ancient history of Afghanistan when it was a kingdom of Alexander The Great and the Greek rulers who came after him.The Silk Road also was a great influence on the culture.Much of the items would have been lost in the 70s except for the savvy museum employees who hid as much treasure as they could in the vault of the central bank.Much treasure and historic sites were destroyed but this treasure survived and it is a wonder to behold.I have some Afghani students who will love to look at this book and enjoy it.It will bring them pride.

2-0 out of 5 stars Archeology of Afghanistan
*****I have tried to correct the star error without any success.I apologize for that.The book is a must to have.Exquisitely written and the pictures are a dream.It is not often that we see archeological discoveries of Afghanistan,let alone a book that we can keep looking at.I went to the exhibit,and I must say that the book did wonders for the exhibit.
The details of the pieces that you see with your own eyes,and then dream of were they were discovered how and by whom and look at the book.Oh I wish I discovered them myself.The pictures are very detailed,and come in different sizes.It is a collector's book which does credit to the writer.Very very well done.the history is written the pictures of the graveyards,how the skeletons were discovered with these fantastic pieces of gold.Everything is detailed.
A must have book. ... Read more

12. The History of Afghanistan (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
by Meredith Runion
Hardcover: 184 Pages (2007-10-30)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$39.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313337985
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

After the September 11th attacks on America, many nations became entrenched in the War on Terror. With this escalating conflict came the names of many countries that the American public knew little about. Prior to 9/11, Americans knew Afghanistan simply as a country in the Middle East area. In the aftermath of 9/11, Americans now associate Afghanistan with words like Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Despite the recent press coverage on this land-locked nation, few understand the history of Afghanistan, including the rich cultural aspects, political climate, and society of this country. As the future of Afghanistan is being lived and written right now, a clear understanding of the country's history is imperative in our new global circumstances.

Ideal for students and general readers, the History of Afghanistan is part of Greenwood's Histories of Modern Nations series. With nearly forty nation's histories in print, these books provide readers with a concise, up-to-date history of countries throughout the world. Reference features include a biographical section highlighting famous figures in Afghanistan history, a timeline of important historical events, a glossary of terms, and a bibliographical essay with suggestions for further reading.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Greenwood--Hire a Copy Editor!
I am not an expert in this field, and thus will not comment upon the content of the book.I hold no ill-will toward the author and truly regret the pain that this review will cause, butRunion's writing skills leave much to be desired.I'm not talking nit-picking--I'm talking fundamental problems with sentence construction and word choice.I'm talking every page.This is more than a distraction--there are many passages that leave one puzzled.I was going to cite some examples here but there's no point in rubbing it in.Runion, I apologize for being so blunt but for the hefty price of this slim volume one expects better writing.Shame on Greenwood, and shame on the series editors for not giving this author the assistance he/she needs.

5-0 out of 5 stars Solid book, Great research starting point
I found this book to be an excellent source for an overview of Afghanistan's history and development as the country it is today. The book covers the complete history of Afghanistan and touches upon the important historical formation of the country and describes the influences of such leaders as Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. This is an excellent source for the information provided about these leaders and their experiences as rulers in this region.

The later half of the book examines the 20th Century events and forces that influenced the politics of the United States throughout multiple presidencies, including the Soviet Invasion, the rise of the Taliban, and the circumstances facing Afghanistan today. This is a great read to reveal the hidden side of Afghanistan through a chronological narrative of the country, and a complete examination of Afghanistan's history from pre civilization to present day.

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific, well-researched read
This is a great book for an introduction to Afghanistan and is an all-inclusive text that presents an entire history of the country and the rulers that have governed throughout Afghanistan. The book primarily focuses on the 20th century and gives great detail such recent events as the Soviet invasion, and I think many readers will be as surprised as I was about the origin of the Taliban. It is clear the author did a great deal of research and references multiple sources to provide an unbiased look into Afghanistan.

Major points in the book describe how modern Afghanistan is a melting pot of a multitude of cultures, tribes, and political influences all under the guiding belief of Islam. The author repeatedly stresses that due to the country's strategic location along the crucial trade routes between Central Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan has suffered repeated conquests throughout its tumultuous history. In spite of this, Afghanistan has proven to be a resilient force in the face of long term conquests, as the United States is experiencing today.

The book includes helpful tools such as a general timeline for the country, Notable Figures in Afghanistan, glossary, and bibliography. Chapters of the book include "An Introduction to Afghanistan: The Land and People," "Prehistory," "Early Civilization and the Nomadic People of Afghanistan," "Greek Hellenistic Culture to the Introduction of Islam," "The Mongolian Invasion through the Shah Dynasty," "The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Civil War, 1979-1992," "Fundamentalism and the Taliban Regime, 1992-2001" and "Democracy and the Future of Afghanistan."

Overall it is a quick read on the country - the book is actually about 150 pages - so if you want really in depth material this probably isn't for you. However, this is a great starting place for those wanting to gain more understanding on the country, the current focus on modern events and conflicts, and even on overall world history - highly recommend this book even for just background information on Afghanistan.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good overview
The Good: In a typical Western education, whether it's intentional or not, vast areas of the world get skipped over, so that you realize as a Western student that you know precious little about them. Afghanistan is one such nation, as it was not in my consciousness, like most other Americans until the events of 2001. Runion here gives a insightful overview of a country that you probably know almost nothing about.

The Bad: It's a very brief overview, and written at probably a 12th grade level. As you get towards the more modern history of Afghanistan, it becomes perfectly clear that this book was written for an American who wanted to know more about Afghanistan after 2001. If that is your only purpose for this book, your fine, but if you are a history student like myself, you find vast other eras of history getting the short shrift.

The ugly: The chronology of this book jumps all over the place, and the areas the author chooses to focus on are sometimes puzzling. Even though Afghanistan was a neutral nation during WWI and WWII, those wars are discussed in a paragraph. More irritating than that is the authors style of presaging the next section. She'll say something like:

"That king ruled until the war was over in 1967".

Then the next section will begin:

"The war of regicidal independence began in 1960".

This is fairly common, and has the reader sometimes struggling to put their mindset back into chronological order.

For an introductory history to Afghanistan, this serves it's purpose, but it will probably pique rather than satiate your search for knowledge, which may have been the author's point all along. ... Read more

13. Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban
by Stephen Tanner
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2002-07)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306811642
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The only complete military history of Afghanistan, from battles fought by the ancient Greeks to those reported in this morning's headlines.

For over 2,500 years, the forbidding territory of Afghanistan has served as a vital crossroads--not only for armies but also for clashes between civilizations. As the United States engages in armed conflict with the current Afghan regime, an understanding of the military history of that blood-soaked land has become essential to every American.

Afghanistan's military history provides lessons for us today. The earliest written records inform us of fierce mountain tribes on the "eastern" edge of the cradle of civilization. Alexander the Great conquered Afghanistan on his way from Persia to India. Later, because of its strategic location--the Silk Road passed through its mountainous northern region--Afghanistan was invaded in succession by Arabs, Mongols, and Tartars. In the nineteenth century, Great Britain tried--and failed--to add Afghanistan to its Indian empire, while Russia tried to expand into the same embattled land. Afghanistan once again fought--and defeated --Russia in the 1980's when it tried to prop up a secular government in the face of rising Islamic resistance.

Now America must face a new enemy on this land--a land that for centuries has become a graveyard of empires past.Amazon.com Review
Stephen Tanner's Afghanistan: A Military History recounts with brisk authority and many illuminating analogies the 2,500-year story of a country--for much of that time it was more properly a region--of "incredible beauty" (soldiers liken it to western Colorado) that has been both the "coveted prize of empires" and, more recently, ahideout for international terrorists. What Afghanistan has known for virtually all of its history is war. Tanner tells, with a good narrative eye, of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan by Cyrus, Alexander, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the British (disastrously), and the Soviet Union (only slightly less so), as well as the rise, and fall, of the Taliban, ending the book with a brief, speculative chapter on the country's present and future. Tucked in Tanner's overview are fascinating historical footnotes, including the Afghans' reliance over the centuries on its now-infamous caves, and its brief role in World War II--the Nazis felt a kinship with the blonde, blue-eyed segments of the population. This is a noteworthy and valuable book: accessible, objective, informative, and informed. --H. O'Billovich ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

2-0 out of 5 stars Good overview; bad finish
Although the first eleven chapters of this book provide a readable overview of the military history of Afghanistan, Tanner uses the last two as a forum for a list of anecdotes he then uses to justify simplistic recommendations on political solutions for the US and its allies in Afghanistan.

After providing an interesting historical narrative of the many peoples, empires, and states that have fought over and within the boundaries of modern Afghanistan Tanner provides a chapter of how the US and its allies pushed the Taliban out of power after 9/11.Unfortunately after eleven chapters of interesting narrative, Tanner's chapter on the US is essentially nothing more than an anecdotal list of problems with the invasion.The chapter is intellectually jarring because methodologically speaking it's very different from what preceded it.It's not until you read the "Afterward" that you realize the anecdotal chapter is a prelude to his pet peeves and simplistic recommendations on how to solve the problem....none of which is tied to the first eleven chapters of his book.Essentially the last two chapters are an op-ed and not related to his work.

This is too bad.I found the bulk of his book interesting (I'm a novice on Afghanistan's military history) and had a hard time putting it down.And I kept looking forward to his conclusion where he would tie together the historical lessons to provide a better understanding of today's events.....not so. And this is what makes the book a weak history - he fails to tie together over 2000 years of military history and its implications.

1-0 out of 5 stars History... or politics? You decide.
This was an interesting look at Afghanistan's military past, but the author lost all pretext of objectivity when he began discussing US involvement in Afghanistan.I should have seen it coming when he referred to "ex-President Jimmy Carter" as "brilliant," but toward the end, Tanner's sputtering hatred for President Bush makes the final two chapters look more like the Washington Post in campaign mode than any sort of serious book on military history.Bottom line:If you have time for one book on Afghanistan's rich military history...this is NOT the book for you.
That said, Tanner does offer us a glimpse of the Afghanistan fighting spirit by giving us the wave tops to a few of their wars.While not giving us a complete survey of all wars Afghan, Tanner drives home one key point: Nobody wins wars against that geography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise and general in its scope, with concentrated focus on the most pivotal events, well founded and provoking analysis.
Stephen Tanner's book "Afghanistan:A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban," is a brilliant and exciting piece of work that will serve Western readers well.
Tanner's work covers the regional peoples andancient tribes who have made indelible contributions to modern Afghan society to the first years of U.S. intervention in the "War on Terror."
The early chapters of the book are an interesting brief on Afghan history condensed.Featuring an exhaustive list of regions, tribes, villains and personalities thatwould otherwise require too much additional background to cover in-depth, Tanner fittingly navigates early history to focus on primary events in Afghan history and the overall Afghan experience, if there ever was such a thing.
Tanner's modern-day material draws on British, or at least mostly Occidental sources, and covers the British and Russian experience in Afghanistan noticeably more in-depth.The connections Tanner makes between Afghanistan and Switzerland are brilliant and set the stage for his conclusion.
Given the subsequent events since the book's publication, it would not be difficult to fill in any holes with supplemental material from various sources, if not Tanner's newer material, regarding the American-Afghan experience since. Obviously the accuracy of Tanner's analysis will remain to be seen within the context and perhaps only at the conclusion of the "War on Terror."
Afghanistan itself, exists as a profound storehouse and contributor to world culture.The future of the world's destiny is no less shaped by this region once bisecting East and West; now bisecting past and present, than it has been throughout time.
Overall, "Afghanistan:A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban" is an exceptional look at a subject too many Americans can claim ignorance, if only by virtue of geography.
Perhaps best of all, it is written with hope, rather than writing off the long suffering Afghan people, be it through Imperialism, radical Islam or perhaps most unfortunately, benign neglect.

5-0 out of 5 stars a full history
I reccomend this in light of our present war in afghanistan.This is a mountainous nation that defeated the Russsians and the British before us. A confounding culture of rival tribes and people that have known war forever.This rugged land is interesting and it has been the center of much intrigue and war for thousands of years.This book tells it all.

1-0 out of 5 stars Copy paste job!
One of the worst books that I have read about Afghanistan. Initially I was really excited about this book, but after reading half it I realized that author had gone to his local library, collected all the books about Afghanistan and copy and pasted...

The author gives 1900 years of afghan history not even half of the book, concentrates too much on Anglo-afghan wars, with a lot of quotations to fill pages, really unscholarly work.

This is anything but a "military" history book. The author does not talk at all about the afghan battle tactics throughout the history. No map of battles, and their formations... this is probably one of the worst books about Afghanistan ever.

Good only for scanning, and casual reading. And off course buy the second hand version of this book. ... Read more

14. Afghanistan: Political Frailty and External Interference (Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern History)
by Nabi Misdaq
Paperback: 380 Pages (2008-06-20)
list price: US$39.00 -- used & new: US$38.35
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Asin: 0415470242
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Afghan society is analyzed from a fresh standpoint in this book which discusses the country’s two and a half centuries of socio-political disquiet and outside interference. The author explores the continuous struggle between the central government and the cornerstone of the present state, the tribes. In its examination of the interchange between the centre and the periphery, the book presents a compelling review of Afghan history, the role of Islam and the contemporary theories of state, Islam, nationalism, ethnicity, and tribalism.

In addition, Misdaq considers Afghanistan’s dynamism and long established custom of dealing with foreign invaders. Covering the Soviet occupation, ethnic conflicts and the US invasion, the book examines Afghan resilience and the capacity to raise an army of fighting men. Written by a well-respected authority on the region, the book highlights past mistakes which should not be repeated and recommends the way forward for this troubled nation.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Work
As a former student of Political Science and a strict follower of the events of Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion and most recently, the post-9/11 era, I have tried to read the works written about my country and the agony of its people.I believe no nation in the course of history shed its blood so generously in defense of her identity, liberty, and faith.The book researched and written by Dr. Misdaq throws light on many unseen, dark corners of Afghanistan such as unmasking many of its false war heroes. It is well-written, well-researched, and I would like to add, thoroughly well done.For those scholars who want to know more and find unbiased facts about Afghanistan, I strongly recommend "Political Fraility and Foreign Interference."I wish Dr. Misdaq much success in this endeavor.

-Hafiz Karzai
An Afghan

5-0 out of 5 stars A Historical Work of Distinction
Every so often a book comes along that makes a significant contribution to the corpus of available Afghanistan literature. This is such a book.

Crafted with the skilled eye of a BBC foreign affairs journalist for more than a decade, and with training as an anthropologist and historian, Dr Nabi Misdaq guides and challenges readers through the tumult and mosaic that is Afghanistan. Beginning with a multitude of dynastic invaders, our narrative curiousity is nourished with an encyclopedic treatise on the rich history, culture, tradition and political landscape of Afghanistan.

Our journey culminates with an objective appraisal of the devastating effect that the "war on terror" has had on the people of Afghanistan while dispelling many of the myths that persist.

In this book, the reader will find none of the "file-copy" so prevalent in the media and among many books on Afghanistan. Our eminently qualified author and narrator challenges many of the sterotypical images crafted by those with superficial knowledge and or a political orientation who are often posed as media experts.

With courage and candor, Dr. Misdaq reveals the many untruths surrounding certain Afghan personalities masquerading as patriots, but in truth, were and in some cases are, collaborators. Exhaustively researched with copius end-notes, Dr. Misdaq's book will educate, enlighten and enthrall the reader, be they student, historian or policy maker yet who also harbor a desire to understand the complexity and mosaic of a nation poised at the gates of the fiercely competitive, energy-rich Central Asian and Caspian deposits. Currently the focus of Russia, Iran, China and the United States who seek an alternative to the dwindling, traditional Middle East energy sources. It can be argued therefore that Afghanistan is a victim of its geography as the contentious Trans-Afghan-Pipeline negotiations between The U.S. and Taliban through the Summer of 2001 will attest.

This and much, much more can be found in this remarkable and compelling historical work by Dr. Misdaq. I can therefore recommend without reservation "Afghanistan, Political Fraility and External Interference."

Bruce G. Richardson
Author: "Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror."

5-0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan from a multidisciplinarian perspective
Dr. Misdaq presents a finely written discourse on a breadth of Afghan history and its current state. A compelling backdrop is set in an effort to describe the formation and continuous reformation of an Afghan identity with each foreign interference and civil uprising. He speaks from a sociological and anthropological perspective, one which allows the reader to understand concepts and traditions, such as the tribal codes and the Pasthunwali code of honor, which are so integral to understanding Afghan people, life, and culture.

There is a thorough narrative of the political history and characters involved, of course, but I feel the most interesting parts of the book are the Appendices which explore particular ideas or events in more depth. From topics such as comparing tribal traditions to Islamic traditions, resisting modernization from the West, to the impetus behind the Durand Agreement and the disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dr. Misdaq gently allows the reader to see just how resilient Afghans have truly been in the past two and a half centuries - almost as if they've had the ability to change without changing.

I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to know Afghanistan in depth, or wants to understand key events and issues in Afghan culture and history, past and present.

5-0 out of 5 stars Academic Reviews Inside Book
The following academic reviews are offered on the inside cover of the book and should be of interest:

"Nabi Misdaq has a rare blend of skills. As an anthropologist he studied contemporary Afghan society and then worked for many years as a journalist with the BBC's Overseas Service in which capacity he met and interviewed most of Afghanistan's leading politicians. Combining these skills with a profound knowledge of Afghan history, he has produced an enthralling study which reveals the fundamental problems encountered by generations of Afghan rulers in attempting to create a legitimate, centralised Afghan state, problems which, as Misdaq also shows, still confront Afghanistan's present-day leadership."
- Ralph Grillo, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology,
University of Sussex

"'Afghanistan: Political Frailty and External Interference' is a timely book. At a time when the focus of the world is on the region, it is one of the few anthropological commentaries by a well-known native. Nabi Misdaq's book is detailed and insightful. He has established himself as an authority on Afghanistan. I strongly recommend the book."
- Dr Akbar S. Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies,
American University, Washington DC

"Dr Nabi Misdaq has described in this book how the Afghans defended their identity and country, Afghanistan, in odd conditions throughout history, with a special focus on the last 300 years. The publication of this book, considering the current conditions in Afghanistan, is by itself an example of such defense. This is a thoroughly researched and compassionately argued work. I will recommend this book as a must for all those who have an interest in the geo-politics of Afghanistan."
- Dr Farouq Azam, former Afghan Minister of Education ... Read more

15. Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires: A New History of the Borderland
by David Isby
Hardcover: 464 Pages (2010-04-13)
list price: US$28.95 -- used & new: US$18.07
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Asin: 160598082X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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An illuminating history of modern Afghanistan: the story of a country caught in a vortex of terror.
Veteran defense analyst and Afghanistan expert David Isby provides an insightful and meticulously researched look at the current situation in Afghanistan, her history, and what he believes must be done so that the US and NATO coalition can succeed in what has historically been known as "the graveyard of empires."

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the lowest literacy rates. It is rife with divisions between ethnic groups that dwarf current schisms in Iraq, and all the groups are lead by warlords who fight over control of the drug trade as much as they do over religion. The region is still racked with these confrontations along with conflicts between rouge factions from Pakistan, with whom relations are increasingly strained. After seven years and billions of dollars in aid, efforts at nation-building in Afghanistan has produced only a puppet regime that is dependent on foreign aid for survival and has no control over a corrupt police force nor the increasingly militant criminal organizations and the deepening social and economic crisis.

The task of implementing an effective US policy and cementing Afghani rule is hampered by what Isby sees as separate but overlapping conflicts between terrorism, narcotics, and regional rivalries, each requiring different strategies to resolve. Pulling these various threads together will be the challenge for the Obama administration, yet it is a challenge that can be met by continuing to foster local involvement and Afghani investment in the region. 20 black-and-white illustrations ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars An insightful read for anyone who wants to understand the problems America faces in the country
Afghanistan has been anything but a pure success story for American forces. "Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires, a New History of the Borderland" is a recent history of the chaos in Afghanistan and the tumultuous nature of the region, and how America seems to be falling into the same rut other nations have faced in trying to occupy and control the region. Looking at history and the problems that face modern Afghanistan outside problematic forces, "Afghanistan" is an insightful read for anyone who wants to understand the problems America faces in the country.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Solid Understanding of our Most Pressing Conflict
With Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires: A New History of the Borderland, David Isby provides the reader an extremely thorough look into the central issue of current US foreign policy. His analysis is deep and penetrating, if very lengthy. Isby goes into detail into every aspect of the conflict in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), and examines the many challenges the US and its allies face there. His analysis of the relations between al Qaeda, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and there support networks in Pakistan's tribal areas is particularly noteworthy.

The challenges that Isby identifies are daunting to say the least, yet he shows how all of them have viable solutions, if only the US and its allies will be willing to put in the time, effort, and resources to properly see them through.

An outstanding read for anyone seeking an in depth look into the conflicts plaguing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and US policy in the region. ... Read more

16. Histories Are Mirrors: The Path of Conflict through Iraq and Afghanistan
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2008-09-01)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$6.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1884167446
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"In Iraq, they were not battles so much but single moments in which normalcy exploded." (Ian Fisher) "A woman in Kabul's busy marketplace walked freely through the crowd with her burqa pulled away from her face. As I photographed her, she offered no sign of objection, staring confidently into my camera's lens, an unimaginable gesture of her new freedom." (Tyler Hicks)From the devastation of the World Trade Center in 2001, through the mountains of Afghanistan, to the ongoing battle for Iraq, Tyler Hicks' images have made history as well as recorded it. Histories Are Mirrors, the first collection of Hicks' extraordinary photographs, brings us up close to America's war on terrorism. With this inclusive view we are shown soldiers from all sides in battle and the bloody aftermath, destroyed cities, palaces, and archeological treasures, refugees and battered civilians, and the shocking reprisals that continue to travel to the Unites States through the news media, bringing home the savagery and profound emotion that characterize these conflicts. Histories Are Mirrors features award-winning images of the embattled regions that have come to define our national policy today - moving from September 11 through Afghanistan and into the streets of Iraq with Tyler Hicks, one of America's greatest new talents in photojournalism. Hicks' images are accompanied by discerning essays by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter John F. Burns and longtime New York Times Middle East correspondent Ian Fisher, whose text provides insight into the most recent upheaval in Iraq. With photographs and texts by three respected reporters on America's war on terrorism, presented here are the stark but dignified realities of everyday life during the conflicts and their aftermaths. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tyler Hicks is an Extraordinary Photographer as is the book
Contrary to the first reviewer's misinformed and erroneous comment about "are the photographs faked," Hicks is one of the world's finest, most authentic and reliable photojournalists. This magisterial book is a good entrance into the world of his extraordinary visual testimony about the world's events. It is not necessary for me to add more than what Ms. Hegland has already contributed villifing the outlandish accusations promulgated about Hick's work. We, unfortunately, live in a time of easy words and radiant mistruths spread with electrical velocity. If only the hard-won expression of what passes in this life were so easily and readily available to be swallowed and digested.

I recommend this book and the entire scrupulously honest work of Mr. Hicks.

It is magisterial and breath-stealing. Allow yourself this wind-swept moment: by swallowing Hick's photographs, you shall be transformed.


5-0 out of 5 stars A truly impressive collection of the many truths that comprise the realities of the contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq
With vivid photography by Tyler Hicks and thoughtful essays from John F. Burns And Ian Fisher of the New York Times, Histories Are Mirrors: The Path Of Conflict Through Afghanistan And Iraq is a truly impressive collection of the many truths that comprise the realities of the contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq. Histories Are Mirrors is a strong recommendation for students of International Studies in general, and the controversial involvement of the United States in these two Islamic nations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Histories Are Mirrors
Our world is in a very tumultuous state. To many, the words "Iraq" and "Afghanistan" are just that... Words. Tyler Hicks' "Histories Are Mirrors" is an important record for our time.He offers the viewer a glimpse of what our global neighbors have to do to survive and exist.War is not pretty.And to those who live in comfort in countries free of continuous conflict, the idea of war is as foreign a concept as the land that they take place in.In my opinion it is the responsibility of all to seek out, view and to try and understand the issues at hand.Some people may consider a few of the photographs difficult to look at... But we must.Mr. Hicks' book is a testament to all those whose paths he has crossed on his journeys. Look at the photographs and look into the eyes of those affected.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pictures of a changing world
People talk endlessly about how the world has changed since 9/11.In his new book, "Histories are Mirrors," Tyler Hicks doesn't talk about the changes, he records them in some of the most riveting photographs I've ever seen.

This book may be the best document to date of what has happened in our world since the World Trade Towers came down. From the Hicks's earliest pictures, taken at ground zero immediately after the attack, through the invasion of Afghanistan and on to Iraq, the viewer is taken step by step through world-changing events and the resulting hope, euphoria, death and destruction.

Hicks is one of the world's leading war photographers.Sometimes it seems barely a bullet was fired that he was not there to record.His pictures of the execution of a wounded Taliban soldier-previously splashed across the front page of the New York Times where Hicks is a staff photographer-are gut-wrenching.And there are many more like that: Marines in close-quarters combat in the cemetery in Najaf, Saddam's soldiers searching for downed Americans along the Tigris, bleeding Northern Alliance soldiers an arm's reach from the lens.The pictures of Iraqi prisoners fleeing the open doors of Abu Ghraib are alone worth the price of the book

But Hicks has another, more empathetic side as well.He goes into the homes of grieving families; he shows the funerals and the hospital wards, the parents who have lost children, the children who are now orphans. The viewer feels the human suffering that results as world leaders solve political problems with guns and bombs.

There are many talented, committed photojournalists working today.Two characteristics separate Hicks from the crowd.One is his persistence-he was one of a handful of journalists who remained in Baghdad during the US bombing campaign.The second is his artistry.Simply put, he understands how to make a riveting, often haunting picture in the quiet moments when there is no action.

Robert Capa, Eugene Smith and Larry Burrows are recognized as the preeminent war photographers of the twentieth century. All were brave beyond belief (Capa and Burrows died in Vietnam). Yet they are remembered as much for their artistry, and for the humanity in their photos.Tyler Hicks follows in their footsteps.

Michael Kamber ... Read more

17. Afghanistan: The People (Lands, Peoples, and Cultures)
by Erinn Banting
Paperback: 32 Pages (2003-03)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$7.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 077879704X
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This book is suitable for children of ages 9-14. Centuries of invasion through its mountain passes have created a host of different ethnic groups in Afghanistan. From mountain villages and nomadic lifestyles to desert and city living, Afghans are tied to one another through their belief in Islam and struggle for survival. Special spreads include information on women and girls, Islam, and the most recent war in Afghanistan. The topics include: early history and invaders; arrival of Islam; road to independence; Soviet wars and the War on Terrorism; Pashtuns and other ethnic groups; nomadic and village lifestyles; family celebrations; women and girls; clothing and food; and returning to school. ... Read more

18. Toughing It Out in Afghanistan
by Michael O'Hanlon, Hassina Sherjan
Paperback: 164 Pages (2010-02-01)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$14.48
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Asin: 0815704097
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"Michael O'Hanlon and Hassina Sherjan have written a superb analysis of the current strategy in Afghanistan. It is an insightful work by two authors with exceptional knowledge and experience. It is a must-read for those who want a clear understanding of the situation, the strategy, and the path ahead in this crucial conlict."
General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Retired)

In this unique collaboration between an American scholar and an Afghan American entrepreneur, Toughing It Out in Afghanistan provides a succinct look at the current situation in Afghanistan with policy prescriptions for the future.

Drawing partly on personal experiences, O'Hanlon and Sherjan outline the tactics being used to protect the Afghan population and defeat the insurgents. They discuss ongoing effots to reform the Afghan policy, to run a better prison system for detainees, to enlist the help of more of Afghanistan's tribes, and to attack corruption. They also discuss the Afghan resistance, including an explanation of how the Taliban mounted a comeback and what it will take to defeat them.

The authors also seek to demolish common myths about Afghanistan, such as the notion that somehow its people hate foreigners. And they explain how to use metrics, such as those in the Brookings Afghanistan Index, to determine if the new strategy is succeeding in the course of 2010 and 2011. Included are policy suggestions to further increase the size and capabilities of the Afghan army and police, to facilitate Afghan businesses' involvement in economic recovery, to expand the role of other Muslim nations in the effort, and to create a strong international aid coordinator as a civilian counterpart to NATO's military leader. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent read - may get outdated quickly
I am a regular "Joe the Plumber" type interested in global politics and foreign affairs.I found this book to be a fantastic and informative read with minimal filler.If you want a primer on the current state of affairs in Afghanistan, then this is it.However, by 2011 it may be significantly outdated...still waiting to see how the predictions in this book pan out.o.o ... Read more

19. Boots on the Ground: Stories of American Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan
Paperback: 304 Pages (2004-06-07)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1560255870
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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The recent wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan have generated gripping coverage from some of our most accomplished writers and correspondents, and Boots on the Ground collects the best new writing about our troops in the field. They include Mike Sager, who profiles marines training in the California desert for war in Afghanistan; John Laurence, who follows the elite 101st Airborne into a firefight at Baghdad airport; Evan Wright, who files a dispatch from Afghanistan with Canadian and American reconnaissance teams; Peter Boyer and David Levine, who explore the resignation of U.S. Marine Reserve Corps Major Scott Ritter from the United Nations arms inspection team sent to Iraq. These writers' stories offer new and deeper perspectives on the challenges and setbacks our soldiers face in modern combat, and together create a gripping portrait of the front lines in the ongoing war against terrorism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

2-0 out of 5 stars Very liberal anti-war slant
Not at all balanced. While there were a few articles that appeared neutral in their coverage, most went out of their way to denounce Bush and paint soldiers in a less than complimentary light. Namely, articles from NY Times, The Guardian, The LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle were simply biased and appeared to espouse a specific agenda. Don't waste time with this book. ... Read more

20. After the Taliban: Nation-Building in Afghanistan
by Amb. James F. Dobbins
Hardcover: 179 Pages (2008-07-31)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1597970832
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In October 2001, the Bush administration sent Amb. James F. Dobbins, who had overseen nation-building efforts in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, to war-torn Afghanistan to help the Afghans assemble a successor government to the Taliban. From warlords to exiled royalty, from turbaned tribal chieftains to elegant émigré intellectuals, Ambassador Dobbins introduces a range of colorful Afghan figures competing for dominance in the new Afghanistan. His firsthand account of the post–9/11 American diplomacy also reveals how collaboration within Bush’s war cabinet began to break down almost as soon as major combat in Afghanistan ceased. His insider’s memoir recounts how the administration reluctantly adjusted to its new role as nation-builder, refused to allow American soldiers to conduct peacekeeping operations, opposed dispatching international troops, and shortchanged Afghan reconstruction as its attention shifted to Iraq.

In After the Taliban, Dobbins probes the relationship between the Afghan and Iraqi ventures. He demonstrates how each damaged the other, with deceptively easy success in Afghanistan breeding overconfidence and then the latter draining essential resources away from the initial effort. Written by America’s most experienced diplomatic troubleshooter, this important new book is for readers looking for insights into how government really works, how diplomacy is actually conducted, and most important why the United States has failed to stabilize either Afghanistan or Iraq. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars An insider's account
AFTER THE TALIBAN could easily have been featured in our Military Shelf section but is reviewed here for its wider-ranging importance to any college-level collection strong in military policy, politics, social issues and Afghan culture. It provides an insider's account - from an American Ambassador who oversaw other nation-building efforts around the world - of the special challenges involved in rebuilding the region after the Taliban, examining relationships between the Afghan and Iraqi ventures and showing how resources have been drained from the original Afghan effort.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch

5-0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for BEFORE 2008 ELECTION
"After the Taliban: Nation Building in Afghanistan" is only 179 pages, but it is the most informative foreign relations book that I have ever read. Although it isn't the easiest book to read (I plan to read it again to get it set in my mind), it shows clearly that TRUE diplomatic negotiationswith the world requires a knowledgeable, THINKING, intelligent commander-in-chief who can select the RIGHT people to perform such important duties -- and will seek information and LISTEN to those assigned to deal with foreign countries. A person who thinks military solutions are the answer to delicate foreign relations will only create more problems for our nation in the 21st Century. The bookwas a great follow-up read to "Three Cups of Tea" which ended with the explosion of madrahsas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (see my review) The last sentence of "After the Taliban" sums it up well: "Peace will not come to Afghanistan, or Iraq for that matter, until American military prowess is once again matched to an inclusive diplomatic strategy that has some prospect of gaining broad regional support." (p. 168)HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! ... Read more

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