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, a secular government in the face of rising Islamic resistance.
America has faced a new enemy on this land, a land that for centuries has become a graveyard of empires past.
©2002 Stephen Tanner; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks
"This is a noteworthy and valuable book: accessible, objective, informative, and informed." (Amazon.com)
I chose this book after listening to "The Kite Runners". While this audio book contained a great deal of information, and was generally well-written, I wished I had had access to a decent map of the region while listening. I also was annoyed by the narrator who mispronounced a number of words and foreign place names and has a tendency to use a fake foreign accent when quoting from some sources (e.g. Russian or British). Nonetheless, these are minor quibbles about the book itself, which focuses on the history of military invasions of Afghanistan and of the civil war during the last two decades of the 20th century. I can't help feeling that the lessons learned about fighting insurgents by the Soviet invaders from 1980 onward are today being re-learned by American soldiers in Iraq. Overall this was a decent book.
I listened to this just before I deployed to Afghanistan and was amazed at just how much of what was in the book is still relevant today. A great piece to put the conflict and hopes of Afghanistan today into perspective of the regions long history.
Yes, but not in an audiobook.
Worth listening to, but I would get more out it in a paper book because without maps it is sometimes hard to follow. It is a very well researched book and to someone interested in the total history of Afghanistan, this is a good start.
This is an area I have an interest in, I have spent some time there, so I could generally follow. However, without maps, especially during some of the ancient times, it can be hard to truly follow. Knowing locations of some ancient places when you are just listening can be tough to follow. I used the book as a refresher to brush up on some reading I had done years earlier and it succeeded. Nevertheless, Tanner does a good job of weaving personal touch stories into the works that keep it interesting. Todd does a good of narration. I did not encounter any problems with sound quality others had made.
As good local histories do, Afghanistan: A Military History places its subject into historical perspective and we get a glimpse of the Persian, Hellenistic, Mongol, Muslim, and British empires from the perspective of Afghanistan. The Twentieth Century history is just as compelling and provides a concise history of the Soviet war. The author has, of course, been overtaken by events in covering US involvement.
The book offered a compelling and engaging history of a nation so important to the world in the beginning of the new century.
However, Tanner completely botched the account of the Battle of Mogudishu in 1993 (he states that Pres. Bush called for the withdrawal when it was actually Clinton).
Also, I detected a bit of subtle anti-Israeli sentiment in the epilogue.
His fears of America as a robotic military superpower are slightly absurd. These two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) have proven that boots on the ground will not be replaced by technology in our lifetimes. These so called "robots" are still heavily reliant on human guidance.
In fact, I could not complete it. The depth of detail became boring to such an extent that I could not bring myself back to the book after awhile.
first and last
Unless you are a fan of military history in boring detail, leave this one alone
This book is a compendium of a huge amount of information. I appreciate the work that went into such an endeavor, but for someone like me (not a historian), most of this book (as far as I've slogged through) is a list of names and places and a few highlights of battles. I'm finding nothing engaging in it at all.
The narrator does a good job speaking. But even he made a barely audible sigh before launching into another list of names and dates.
The recording quality is a little tinny.
If you want a list of facts (I've got this running in the background while I type and just heard that 25 Macedonians died in a particular battle), this is your book. If you are looking to find a compelling book to give context to our current situation, skip over this book!
This book was very dry sometimes and hard to focus. It had great information but buried in between tough reading/"listening". I think if there is an abridged version, it probably would be better. Definately too detailed!
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