Afghanistan

A Cultural and Political History
Narrated by: Robin Bloodworth
Length: 17 hrs and 22 mins
Categories: History, Asia
4.4 out of 5 stars (143 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.95

Buy for $29.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

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 16th century to the Taliban resurgence today. Thomas Barfield introduces listeners 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 19th and 20th 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 listening 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.

©2010 Princeton University Press (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"In this riveting study, Barfield does a splendid job of informing us why Afghanistan is the way it has always been." ( Daily Star)
"This book is an authoritative and well-written summary of what we might call the majority view. There is a streak in this book, however, of more radical thinking. . . . It leads him near the end of the book to some startling predictions for Afghanistan's possible futures." ( Gerard Russell Foreign Policy)
"Thomas Barfield's new book offers a remedy for Americans' pervasive ignorance of Afghanistan. . . . Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History is an invaluable book. Mr. Barfield does not give the United States a way out of Afghanistan, but he does provide the context necessary for good policymaking." (Doug Bandow, Washington Times)

More from the same

What listeners say about Afghanistan

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    85
  • 4 Stars
    35
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    63
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    68
  • 4 Stars
    35
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great overview of Afghanistan's history

What made the experience of listening to Afghanistan the most enjoyable?

Interesting perspective on tribal/cultural dynamics. Goes more in depth into actual Afghan historical politics vs. the more traditional US foreign policy-perspective books which are more widely published.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good details but....

I see too much of northern Afghanistan’s influence in his writing. That makes it less of an overall history of Afghanistan and more history of northern Afghanistan and their role in the region.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting content, poor production

The historical background and social context this book brings to its examination of Afghanistan is very interesting. The Audible production, however, is terrible.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awful narration

Great content, but possibly the worst narration I've listened to. Inconsistent pronunciation, using absurd accents for quotes, etc.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Masterful

Barfield has total mastery of the tribal, cultural, political and anthropological roots of Afghan history. Don’t get turned off by the academic introduction. This is a wonderfully written history of a country woefully misunderstood. Bloodworth’s narration is perfectly modulated and will hold your attention.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Listen & Narration

Comprehensive look into Afghanistan with an emphasis on the country from the 18 and 19th centuries and onward. Compliments to the narrator , as well.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Suneil
  • Suneil
  • 06-08-20

Underplayed US funding of Islamists

Really pleased I listened to it but I thought it didn’t fairly describe the affect of IIS, Saudi and US intervention and subsequent problems in a balanced way.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 12-18-19

Wonderful, in-depth view of the nation’s struggle with living.

I recommend this book to those looking to gain a solid understanding of the nation of Afghanistan and it’s functionality, what made it what it is today and the mythos surrounding it. It’s no secret that Afghanistan has been topical in recent decades and those interested in gaining an in-depth understanding into the nation’s current state will not be disappointed by this presentation. Only gripes with this audio is that Robin’s Accent changes suddenly in certain parts, which is notable but doesn’t distract from the overall presentation.