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Ali Ahmad Jalali

In this highly analytical study, a former interior minister of Afghanistan surveys the geographic, social, and political foundations of war in Afghanistan from the 19th century through the present day.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, many Westerners know of Afghanistan only through media reports of the area. Unfortunately, journalists and political analysts often present concepts based on stereotypes, generalizations, anachronistic judgments, and geographic misplacements in their haste to report the news. This highly focused political reference demonstrates how the social and political order in this multiethnic nation is a far more complex ecosystem than foreign observers can readily fathom.


Written from an insider's perspective, this volume provides the definitive history of warfare in Afghanistan from the 19th century through the era of British conquest to the Soviet incursion and the rise of the Taliban; and finally, the subsequent invasion by the United States. Author Ali Ahmad Jalali examines the factors contributing to Afghanistan's unique military personality: a distinct geography unsuitable for large invading armies and difficult to sustain logistically; the decentralized socio-political order of self-sufficient local communities; and the variety of military institutions within its social system. Real-life examples highlight the country's indigenous culture of warfare and its tactical and strategic advantages and vulnerabilities in times of conflict.

A Military History of Modern Afghanistan

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