Cover image for Afghanistan : a military history from Alexander the Great to the present
Afghanistan : a military history from Alexander the Great to the present
Tanner, Stephen, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Da Capo Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
vii, 351 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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DS356 .T36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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."

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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." (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

As a rain of ruin fell from the skies over Afghanistan following the tragedy of September 11, most Americans assumed that a majority of Afghans were "evil doers." Few realized the rich military history of Afghanistan. Independent scholar and freelance writer Tanner has presented a carefully researched account of the Afghans as they resisted foreign and domestic occupiers from Alexander the Great to the Taliban. The most fascinating aspect of the book is Tanner's depiction of the British retreat from Kabul in 1842 and the subsequent massacre of British forces as they fled toward the Khyber Pass. Likewise, Tanner's account of Afghanistan's role in the Great Game, when Great Britain and Russia jockeyed for position in Central Asia, allows readers to visualize patterns similar to the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. Tanner acknowledges that Afghans seldom accepted defeat and raises questions concerning the legacy of US involvement. Achieving a military victory is only part of the solution; "governing, controlling, or even trying to help the country" in difficult times is an equal challenge. Tanner's book will be a worthy addition to both academic and public libraries as readers seek answers to the complex problems concerning Afghanistan's military legacy. C. C. Lovett Emporia State University