Afghanistan: A Military History From Alexander The Great To The Present Hardcover – Jul 3 2002
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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."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The rich and turbulent history of Afghanistan's history kept my attention until the final three chapters as the author moved away from historical narrative into a contemporary review of recent events which are still too close to offer any real historical judgement. That analysis must be left to the next generation to undertake comprehensively. The book lost further continuity as events related but external to Afghanistan itself were incorporated, including a somewhat detailed account of the events on 9/11 and later terrorist activity throughout the Middle East over the past two years.
I was also troubled by the author's inaccurate characterization of certain events (the most glaring being the US intervention in Somalia and Bush/Clinton's roles in the affair) that I have studied. These flaws place some doubt in my mind as to the accuracy of the rest of the book, especially concerning subjects I am less familiar with and the authors own opinions concerning the US military campaign expressed in the afterword.
This book provides an excellent start for someone looking for an introduction to Afghan military history. Read all except the last 2-3 chapters. Anyone looking for a review and analysis of the US military campaign since 2001 should look elsewhere or wait for a more comprehensive treatment of the subject with better sources thant Western press accounts.
In light of this, I picked up this book because I knew next to nothing about Afghanistan. What I found was a truly excellent book that covered all of Afghanistan history and paints a very rich tapestry of Afghan people, and how we have come to this point in history that is the American War on Terrorism there.
Throughout this book, you will read examples of foreigners conquering Afghanistan, only to face the reality that in the end the Afghans can not be conquered. The most compelling example in this book is the first Anglo-Afghan war in the 1840s, where British forces marched in with huge numbers, but in the end, they were fleeing back to India starved, frozen, and totally panicked. The Soviet-Afghan war is equally compelling, and really provides insight into the current conflict we face where Mujahideen veteran fighters from that era have now reassembled into what is now Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Regardless of your views of the War on Terrorism, people will really benefit from reading this book. I think that by reading about Afghanistan and how it came to be will give readers a greater appreciation for what is going on there now in the current conflict, and also the War as a whole. Enjoy!
Across time, Afghanistan has dealt similar harsh lessons to all intruders.
With Afghanistan shoved into the limelight after 9/11, many have been left wondering what kind of people inhabit such a harsh land. When the U.S. military ran out of targets after only a few days of bombing, I know I was asking myself exactly what kind of war we were fighting. Where did the bunkers that Bin Laden hid in come from, and did they have a deeper historical origin? Why did such a wanted man choose that country at all?
If you were wondering similar things, Tanner does an excellent job explaining these and numerous other issues surrounding the military history of Afghanistan. My initial interest was sparked by his previous book about Switzerland (Refuge from the Reich), which supplied fascinating WWII information about a country I've studied at length. The Swiss and the Afghans are actually more similar than many might at first think, as Tanner is sure to point out. With two mountainous regions and two heavily armed populations of varying ethnic groups, their shared struggles and lessons to the world are equally valuable. It is here that Tanner excels--in bridging civilizations and epochs to create understandable history.
Viewed militarily, Afghanistan becomes a shadowy region more often acted-upon than instigating.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book really an insult to people who have spent hard earned money in the hopes of educating themselves on this subject. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2003 by Douglas S. Rowe
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. Read morePublished on Sept. 11 2003 by Seth J. Frantzman
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... Read morePublished on July 8 2003 by Wali