With brisk authority and many illuminating analogies, Stephen Tanner's Afghanistan: A Military History
recounts the 2,500-year story of a region and, more recently, a country of "incredible beauty" (U.S. soldiers liken it to western Colorado) that has been both the "coveted prize of empires" and a hideout for international terrorists. What Afghanistan has known for virtually all its history is war. Tanner writes, with a good eye toward narrative, 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 into 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, informed, and informative. --H. O'Billovich
From Publishers Weekly
Although the public's interest in Afghanistan-based military operations may be waning, Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban brings readers from the 3rd century B.C.E. (with a nod to the 2,000 years preceding) to the beginnings of Hamed Karzai's government. This secondary source-based account by Stephen Tanner (Epic Retreats: From 1776 to the Evacuation of Saigon) tells the story of this historical crossroads as it passes, violently, from Alexander to the Mongols, the Durrani Empire, the British, the Soviets and Mujahideen, the Taliban, and "the Americans."
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