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Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story Paperback – January 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872864944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872864948
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Journalists Fitzgerald and Gould do yeoman's labor in clearing the fog and laying bare American failures in Afghanistan in this deeply researched, cogently argued and enormously important book. The authors demonstrate how closely American actions are tied to past miscalculations—and how U.S. policy has placed Afghans and Americans in grave danger. Long at cultural crossroads, Afghanistan's location poised the country to serve as a fragile buffer between rival empires. Great Britain's 1947 creation of an arbitrary and indefensible border between Afghanistan and the newly minted Pakistan from the Afghan point of view... has always been the problem, but particularly after 9/11 American policymakers have paid scant attention to the concerns of Afghans, preferring to shoehorn an imagined Afghanistan into U.S. power paradigms. The United States is in a fight for its life, not because of [9/11]... but because of the way America responded.... That response was at once wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and... ineffective, the authors argue, calling on the incoming president to make radical changes. Osama is not beating the United States.... The United States is beating itself, and beating itself badly. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story is a defining work of great wisdom and depth in which the authors get to the bottom of the cauldron that is Afghanistan. We cannot fully understand today's Afghanistan without reading this insightful book. Afghanistan was the first war in the US war on terror. Understanding Afghanistan is the key to the current war. You could not start at a better place than this book. To understand why eight years later it is still being fought, Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story is a must read." --Ahmed Rashid author of Jihad and Descent into Chaos

"Journalists Fitzgerald and Gould do yeoman's labor in clearing the fog and laying bare American failures in Afghanistan in this deeply researched, cogently argued and enormously important book." --Publishers Weekly, 11/3/2008

The fog obscuring U.S. policies in Afghanistan is thicker than elsewhere in the region. The authors cut through it meticulously, exposing layers of cultural arrogance and myopia. They demonstrate with painful clarity how these traits helped push our would-be ally into the Soviet orbit, causing us to arm and promote the violent extremists we're fighting today. When confronted with al-Qaeda's nihilism on 9/11, our response was 'wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and ... ineffective.'" --Dallas Morning News

"Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story is a critically important contribution to our understanding of some of the most dramatic and significant developments of current history." -- Noam Chomsky --Noam Chomsky

"Utilizing 20 years of experience of researching and reporting on Afghanistan, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould seek to clarify and contextualize the current situation in conflict-torn Afghanistan with this comprehensive history. The material covers events starting in ancient antiquity, but puts a heavy emphasis on the second half of the 20th century through the end of 2007. The work concludes with analysis and strategy recommendations for the incoming American President and is supplemented by an appendix of historical maps."--The Middle East Journal -- The Middle East Journal

"I think your account of the Russian motivation at the time of the invasion and afterwards strikes me as being quite authentic. Prime minister Kosygin didn't vote for the intervention. He had his doubts and he was absent from the meeting."--Charles Cogan at the Cambridge Forum, February 4, 2009. Cogan was Chief of the Near East-South Asia Division in the Operations Directorate of the CIA from 1979 to 1984. He is now at the Kennedy School. --Charles Cogan at the Cambridge Forum, February 4, 2009

"There's more to Afghanistan's history than the rise and fall of the Taliban. Afghanistan's Untold Story is a look at the oft forgotten long and storied history of the Afghani people. Drawing the tale from thousands of years ago in ancient times to what Afghanistan was like before the infamous wars with the Soviet Union, it tells the story from the Afghani perspective, leading to a fascinating story of a war-torn people. Afghanistan's Untold Story is enthralling history reading, a great pick indeed." --Midwest Book Review

"Nearly 30 years after their first foray into the land-locked buffer state, married couple and journalist-historians Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould could not have chosen a more appropriate time to publish their comprehensive Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story . . . A chronically disinformed US public should leap at the chance to familiarize themselves with an honest overview of their country's historically scandalous involvement in the region." - Anthony Fenton --Asia Times

"Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould is a must read book for anyone who wants to understand world geopolitics since the Vietnam war and even before. --Newshoggers

"Thirty years in the making, this deeply researched book is bursting with overlooked facts and unauthorized insights. Through their erudition, prescience and passion, Gould and Fitzgerald have provided us with an urgent and necessary history, one that pierces through the haze of misinformation that has, for far too long, obscured the guiding light of an authentic past. The timeliness of this book cannot be overstated. --Truthout.org

"In Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story (City Lights Books, 2009), authors Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould give a current examination of the last hundred years in Afghanistan. The wife-and-husband journalists researched the book with Sima Wali, author of the introduction, part of a generation of women in Afghanistan who had access to education, and whose vision of what their society might become lies in tatters today. Her family fled the country in 1978 when the monarchy ended, during a time when she and other Afghanis were 'striving on the path to democracy.' Ms. Wali describes this book, which has gotten rave reviews everywhere, as a 'phenomenal compendium of .. the complex dynamics' of her country.

Complex dynamics is a mild term for a country that touches four regions of the vast sharing zone that is Eurasia, and has been at the intersection of many of their competitions. This book's very clear focus on what is possible in Afghanistan has it moving quickly through background material before a closer examination of power plays in the region from 20th century until today. That the U.S. created the very enemies it now claims it must fight by bombing civilians is well-known. Here are the well-presented details.

An excellent chapter at the end offers What Can President Barack Obama Do?, an organized list of solid recommendations. It includes 2. Stop humiliating Afghan men and desecrating their homes, a practice many say recruits militants. The list also acknowledges the problem of humanitarian aid trickling down slowly and meagerly: 4. Start helping Afghans in a way they can understand, see, and appreciate. Empowering women in Afghanistan to work and educate themselves is a key component of this proposal.

Sima Wali describes a 'vast majority of willing Afghans who are capable of ushering in democratic change.' Mr. President, are you listening?" - Lisa Savage, PINKtank --Lisa Savage, PINKtank

I strongly recommend Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald's new book, Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story. Thirty years in the making, this deeply researched book is bursting with overlooked facts and unauthorized insights. Through their erudition, prescience and passion, Gould and Fitzgerald have provided us with an urgent and necessary history, one that pierces through the haze of misinformation that has, for far too long, obscured the guiding light of an authentic past. - Ryan Croken, Truthout --Truthout.org

"In their recent book, Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, two US journalists with a long involvement there, trace how it has re-emerged after being parked with a compliant Pakistani regime during the Iraq war. . . Speaking at meetings throughout the US, Fitzgerald and Gould report a bewilderment about why the extra troops are being sent there now. They believe the Obama administration is buying time to save face, redefine its commitment and reorganise its priorities." --The Irish Times

"In Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould outline striking historical accounts of an ancient nation, its borders shaped through colonial wars and conflicts between empires. Their style is reflective yet factual, delving into Afghanistan's key role in central conflicts that have defined global politics in the past century, from the Cold War to the 'war on terror.'" --Stefan Christoff, The Hour

"Fitzgerald and Gould (journalists who have been reporting on Afghanistan and US policy towards Afghanistan since 1981) narrate the political history of Afghanistan and provide a critical analysis of US policy towards Afghanistan. They reveal the manipulations of Afghanistan by the United States and other great powers from the 'Great Game' of the 19th century through the current 'War on Terror' and describe its terrible consequences for the Afghan people." --Book News

"To understand Afghanistan's tragic circumstances, this well-documented book by journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould is essential reading. . . . The authors urge US leaders to learn from the Soviet experience and adjust their policies to help the Afghan people regain their independence, especially from foreign-supported extremism, before it is too late. Engaging reportage." --Ruth Parnell --Nexus Magazine

"Invisible History provides a wealth of often generally-unknown details about the tribal and ethnic alliances that created current divisions and government instability." --Paul J. Nyden --Sunday Gazette Mail

"The history told within these covers is the story of an ancient nation whose intention in the past century or so has included the creation of a free and tolerant society. . . . It is the authors' contention that this struggle erupted into a civil war when the US began arming warlords and reactionary religious forces in its war against the Soviets. . . . This book puts the responsibility for Afghanistan's desperate situation directly in the laps of US policymakers . . . It also asks whether or not this was the intention of those policymakers all along." --Ron Jacobs, Dissident Voice


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Customer Reviews

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I found the last chapter, to be the best!
M.S. Heiser
For those who can retain good humor about the topic and want to ease into the history, see the Flashman novels.
Richard J. Gibson
"Afghanistan's Untold Story" is a look at the oft forgotten long and storied history of the Afghani people.
Midwest Book Review

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Alan Gould on April 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
...for understanding how we came to be in the predicament that we're in, Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story gives an unusually clear summary of historical events that led to the present (2009). Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald have obviously done their homework and gone to great lengths both in travels to Afghanistan and research to give us a picture of what's transpired, heretofore unobtainable in mainstream media. I GREATLY appreciate Elizabeth's and Paul's dedication in creating this book and found it most illuminating.
I encourage readers to not be deterred at the outset---the beginning of the book very rapidly traverses the early historical aspects of Afghanistan and the setting in relations with India, Iran, Russia, and Western Europe and is almost a whirlwind of names of leaders to keep up with. But it settles into more modest and comfortable pace as it enters the 20th century when the US entered the picture, inheriting the absurd mantle that Britain created in their 19th century era of imperialist behavior.
Though the work is not without bias---it's hard to create such a history free of SOME sort of bias---as long as the reader is alert to that fact of life, as with any book, he or she can interpret the events in his or her own world view, derive meaning and harvest a rich crop of concepts and political factors from the in-depth work and years of research of the authors in this subject.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Desertwriter on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fortunately, I listened to these authors discuss their long up close and personal experiences in country and with the Afghani people from early 80s to present. They come to their perspective over a long period of time and with viewpoints rarely presented in MSM in US which seems instead to carry water for MIC (miltary industrical complex). As a result of CSPAN's hour long coverage of their book talk I intend to purchase this book and another that they highly recommended (Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos)for deeper background and understanding. A key element that they covered was the issue of the West turning its back on Afghanistan three different times and thus setting the US/Nato for failure. There is exploration of what went wrong and why. One cannot doubt their long view and reflections on political, cultural and social reasons for the way that country has again been betrayed by western powers for reasons which have nothing to do with 'democratization' or humane/gender concerns. THIS is the book for Americans to read before further damage is done and greater human suffering is left on ravaged Afghan's doorstep. Bravo to the Fitzgeralds dedication and diligence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DCB on March 21, 2010
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Very good, but not as comprehensive as I had hoped. Not enough material on the early years, particularly the nineteenth century.
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I read every single book I can find on central Asia and Afghanistan. This book here, is so packed with information... it's amazing that it all fits in one book!!!

You'll find this book very thick. For a paperback, it has a really strong binding and cover. It's also written in a good size font, I had to use my reading glasses, but the writing is of fair size.

You'll need a notepad and pen/pencil, if you plan on remembering everything you read! This book, out of the 100 and some books I have read on the region... is the most in depth book I've read to date!

You'll go back to Afghanistan, before it was Afghanistan. All the way from time (BC) to the present day. I found the last chapter, to be the best! You can't go wrong. There is no better book, for this price... on the country of Afghanistan.

A MUST READ FOR ALL STUDENT OF: INTERNATIONAL STUDIES/RELATIONS, AS WELL AS FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
There's more to Afghanistan's history than the rise and fall of the Taliban. "Afghanistan's Untold Story" is a look at the oft forgotten long and storied history of the Afghani people. Drawing the tale from thousands of years ago in ancient times to what Afghanistan was like before the infamous wars with the Soviet Union, it tells the story from the Afghani perspective, leading to a fascinating story of a war-torn people. "Afghanistan's Untold Story" is enthralling history reading, a great pick indeed.
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