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on February 10, 2011
I've been to Afghanistan. I have seen Afghan women cry as their babies died of tragically easily preventable sickness. I have seen Afghanistan's wars and what it has done to the Afghans. I have even met the author of this book, who has also spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the years.

I have seen what is at stake in Afghanistan. I know the lives of Afghan people who deserve better are being shaped by decisions made, not by themselves or their kin, but by men behind desks in Washington, Tampa, Rawalpindi Cantonment and other far and distant places. One of the things that continues to blight the lives on the Afghan people is that neither these men nor those that implement their policies understand Afghanistan. That applies to good guys as well as bad guys. I have seen well-intentioned aid workers make ill-informed decisions that led to more deaths than any trigger-happy soldier could inflict.

If you want an idea of both WHAT is happening in Afghanistan and WHY, I recommend AFGHANISTAN, GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES. For a sense of what is at stake in Afghanistan, it pulls together the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The author is an experienced military analyst, but this book is not about battalions and operations. Rather, it aims to put the wars in an Afghan (not US) political and cultural context, which is what the men behind desks, men trying to do good works or men leading troops in Afghanistan never seem to understand, to the Afghans' great sorrow and cost.

I have seen the result of many of the policy, military and aid failures that this book describes. By no means all of them are the result of outsides. The author knows enough to realize that Afghans are not just victims, but have been part of the reason why the conflicts in their remote conflict now touch lives throughout the world. If you need to understand Afghanistan, this book can make you better informed, even if it cannot provide the needed answers to Afghanistan's conflicts.
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on May 1, 2010
With Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires: A New History of the Borderland, David Isby provides the reader an extremely thorough look into the central issue of current US foreign policy. His analysis is deep and penetrating, if very lengthy. Isby goes into detail into every aspect of the conflict in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), and examines the many challenges the US and its allies face there. His analysis of the relations between al Qaeda, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and there support networks in Pakistan's tribal areas is particularly noteworthy.

The challenges that Isby identifies are daunting to say the least, yet he shows how all of them have viable solutions, if only the US and its allies will be willing to put in the time, effort, and resources to properly see them through.

An outstanding read for anyone seeking an in depth look into the conflicts plaguing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and US policy in the region.
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on June 15, 2010
Afghanistan has been anything but a pure success story for American forces. "Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires, a New History of the Borderland" is a recent history of the chaos in Afghanistan and the tumultuous nature of the region, and how America seems to be falling into the same rut other nations have faced in trying to occupy and control the region. Looking at history and the problems that face modern Afghanistan outside problematic forces, "Afghanistan" is an insightful read for anyone who wants to understand the problems America faces in the country.
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on February 19, 2011
This book has many strengths and really only 1 weakness.

Highlights:
* The Author's superb knowledge of what is happening in the area
* An outstanding exploration and explanation of economic, political, and cultural interrelationships of the people of Afghanistan
* Very thorough review of past 20 years or so of the history of Afghanistan
* Great examination of Pakistan's relationship to Afghanistan

Caveat:
* The glossary could to be expanded; occasionally you will run into words that aren't precisely defined, for example kandaks.

I should also point out - this isn't a comprehensive long term history of Afghanistan - but rather an outstanding and insightful look at the past 20 or so years.
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on February 13, 2014
This is a good book and the author has a solid understanding of Afghanistan and carefully goes into all the details about how and why Afghanistan evolved the way it did. I am giving it a four star because it becomes a very tedious read and unless you already have a knowledge of Afghanistan and Islam then much of it won't make sense to the reader. If you are looking for a book that gives a basic overview of Afghanistan and the conflict this is not a good book. If you want a book that goes into details about what happened and why it happened then this is the book for you.
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on July 15, 2014
This book is poorly organized and poorly written. It is full of grammar mistakes, redundant information and Faulknerian sentences that require the reader to search for the verb. Combined, these errors make reading this book an unpleasant labor. Shame on the author and the editor. This topic deserves more serious scholarship.
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on April 9, 2011
This book examines the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, when the Taliban and al Qaeda escaped to regroup in the borderlands of Pakistan. From there, the Taliban and al Qaeda sought (and still seek) to overthrow the governments in Kabul and Islamabad and to carry the war to the West.

Isby provides a very thorough treatment of the actors and issues in these wars that is accessible to the general reader, with just enough reference to pre-2001 history to put things in context. He describes the lands and peoples involved, the dual faceted role of Pakistan as both sponsor and victim of terrorism, the evolution of al Qaeda from an Afghanistan-based to a Pakistan-based movement, the different factions of the Taliban, the role of narcotics trafficking, and the insurgency in Pakistan. He concludes that these wars must be won, and can be won if the US is "willing to pay the considerable costs" of doing so.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know why we're still in Afghanistan nearly ten years after 9/11 and who wants to understand the ongoing crisis in Pakistan.
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on March 31, 2012
Afghnanistan over centuries(1000-1700 A.D.) has been the base camp of Islamic Armies from Turkey, Iraq, Mangolia, Iran, Uzbekistn, etc., etc, to prepare and attack India. For seven centuries the 'Invading Islamic Armies' committed atrocities on the local Hindu populations, all over India, but in particular, in Punjab and Sindh, as it was, their doorway, to, the rest of India. They converted local populations in Punjab, Sindh and Bengal(PSB) by terror into Islam to continue ruling India but in 1700 A.D., the Islamic India rule, collapsed, and, the local Hindu populations, started resenting against their atrocities. There was then the birth of the 'Sikh Resisitance Army (out of Hindu popultions)'agaisnt the Islamn in Punjab and Delhi which regained Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir under their control. But it worried the last Islamic ruler in Bengal and he invited the British for help to regain control of India. They did help Islam but soon gained control over whole of India including Bengal. This continued till 1947 when India got freedom from the British, but, then the, 'Islamic Colonists' of India did not want to stay as part of Hindu India, and, bargianed, with, the British, for a separate 'Islamic Only Colony' the Pakistan(Punjab, Sindh and Bengal). Now are the 'Western Armies Assembled' in Afghnaistan are trying to contain the 'Islamic Coloniasm of Terror' spreading further, or, trying to the keep routes of oil supplies open? Read all about it in the Book: 'India Divided Religion Then 1947...'/amazon.com
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on January 20, 2014
The historic background of the country was interesting and informative as I spent 2012 in the country (military). The book provides a good lessons-learned profile of the country and its people.
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on February 27, 2013
I purchased the kindle version of this book for a class on the Conflict in Afghanistan. The author is of course very knowledgeable, and the book is easy to read.
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