15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Like others, I read Tanner's book in order to gain a greater familiarity with Afghanistan's military history. In this respect, the book succeeds. Tanner's provides a basic overview of the subject without devling too deeply. At times I did get the impression that the author relied too heavily on secondary sources not just for historical details but analysis as well.
The rich and turbulent history of Afghanistan's history kept my attention until the final three chapters as the author moved away from historical narrative into a contemporary review of recent events which are still too close to offer any real historical judgement. That analysis must be left to the next generation to undertake comprehensively. The book lost further continuity as events related but external to Afghanistan itself were incorporated, including a somewhat detailed account of the events on 9/11 and later terrorist activity throughout the Middle East over the past two years.
I was also troubled by the author's inaccurate characterization of certain events (the most glaring being the US intervention in Somalia and Bush/Clinton's roles in the affair) that I have studied. These flaws place some doubt in my mind as to the accuracy of the rest of the book, especially concerning subjects I am less familiar with and the authors own opinions concerning the US military campaign expressed in the afterword.
This book provides an excellent start for someone looking for an introduction to Afghan military history. Read all except the last 2-3 chapters. Anyone looking for a review and analysis of the US military campaign since 2001 should look elsewhere or wait for a more comprehensive treatment of the subject with better sources thant Western press accounts.
7 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
How did Alexander the Great feel when he viewed Afghan warriors following his every move through the open fields and tight crevasses of Afghanistan? Probably much the same as British Major General William Elphinstone felt centuries later as he led an ill-fated expedition out of Afghanistan, during which all of his 15,000-strong caravan of soldiers died at the hands of Afghans...except for the one man left alive to tell the story.
Across time, Afghanistan has dealt similar harsh lessons to all intruders.
With Afghanistan shoved into the limelight after 9/11, many have been left wondering what kind of people inhabit such a harsh land. When the U.S. military ran out of targets after only a few days of bombing, I know I was asking myself exactly what kind of war we were fighting. Where did the bunkers that Bin Laden hid in come from, and did they have a deeper historical origin? Why did such a wanted man choose that country at all?
If you were wondering similar things, Tanner does an excellent job explaining these and numerous other issues surrounding the military history of Afghanistan. My initial interest was sparked by his previous book about Switzerland (Refuge from the Reich), which supplied fascinating WWII information about a country I've studied at length. The Swiss and the Afghans are actually more similar than many might at first think, as Tanner is sure to point out. With two mountainous regions and two heavily armed populations of varying ethnic groups, their shared struggles and lessons to the world are equally valuable. It is here that Tanner excels--in bridging civilizations and epochs to create understandable history.
Viewed militarily, Afghanistan becomes a shadowy region more often acted-upon than instigating. The warrior Afghans pledge tribe loyalty before all else, helping to explain why it has remained so splintered politically throughout so many centuries. What Tanner does is explain how the invading armies of history first destroy any existing Afghan infrastructure (for often short-sighted military goals), and then immediately suffer at the hands of those they have attempted to subjugate. What emerges is a culture bent on freedom to live unconstrained, even at the hands of an organized government or ideology.
With sections on everyone from Alexander to Ghengis Khan to Queen Victoria to President Bush, Tanner covers the historical spectrum. The generations of military strategists that attacked Afghanistan would find a wealth of common sense lessons from Tanner's book.
Tanner finishes his military history with a look at the American campaign until June of 2002. His conclusions about the accomplishments of the U.S. so far, to both help and hurt our own cause, are worth examination. In particular, his suggestions for a possible political solution, only too briefly explored, hint at an historical precedent to be found in the lessons of the Swiss. Tanner's insights are backed by thousands of years of dangerously cyclical history in dire need of change.
If you're looking for an intelligent, well-written and concise history of Afghanistan, you should not be without this book. Highly recommended for both analysts and novices.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
R. W. Levesque
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Although the first eleven chapters of this book provide a readable overview of the military history of Afghanistan, Tanner uses the last two as a forum for a list of anecdotes he then uses to justify simplistic recommendations on political solutions for the US and its allies in Afghanistan.
After providing an interesting historical narrative of the many peoples, empires, and states that have fought over and within the boundaries of modern Afghanistan Tanner provides a chapter of how the US and its allies pushed the Taliban out of power after 9/11. Unfortunately after eleven chapters of interesting narrative, Tanner's chapter on the US is essentially nothing more than an anecdotal list of problems with the invasion. The chapter is intellectually jarring because methodologically speaking it's very different from what preceded it. It's not until you read the "Afterward" that you realize the anecdotal chapter is a prelude to his pet peeves and simplistic recommendations on how to solve the problem....none of which is tied to the first eleven chapters of his book. Essentially the last two chapters are an op-ed and not related to his work.
This is too bad. I found the bulk of his book interesting (I'm a novice on Afghanistan's military history) and had a hard time putting it down. And I kept looking forward to his conclusion where he would tie together the historical lessons to provide a better understanding of today's events.....not so. And this is what makes the book a weak history - he fails to tie together over 2000 years of military history and its implications.
5 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
September 11th, 2001 brought about an unprecedented chain of events. The world's most powerful nation is now deeply intertwined with one of the poorest and most isolated countries in the world: Afghanistan. What happens in Afghanistan now directly affects us, and will continue to affect us for some time to come.
In light of this, I picked up this book because I knew next to nothing about Afghanistan. What I found was a truly excellent book that covered all of Afghanistan history and paints a very rich tapestry of Afghan people, and how we have come to this point in history that is the American War on Terrorism there.
Throughout this book, you will read examples of foreigners conquering Afghanistan, only to face the reality that in the end the Afghans can not be conquered. The most compelling example in this book is the first Anglo-Afghan war in the 1840s, where British forces marched in with huge numbers, but in the end, they were fleeing back to India starved, frozen, and totally panicked. The Soviet-Afghan war is equally compelling, and really provides insight into the current conflict we face where Mujahideen veteran fighters from that era have now reassembled into what is now Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Regardless of your views of the War on Terrorism, people will really benefit from reading this book. I think that by reading about Afghanistan and how it came to be will give readers a greater appreciation for what is going on there now in the current conflict, and also the War as a whole. Enjoy!
3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This was an interesting look at Afghanistan's military past, but the author lost all pretext of objectivity when he began discussing US involvement in Afghanistan. I should have seen it coming when he referred to "ex-President Jimmy Carter" as "brilliant," but toward the end, Tanner's sputtering hatred for President Bush makes the final two chapters look more like the Washington Post in campaign mode than any sort of serious book on military history. Bottom line: If you have time for one book on Afghanistan's rich military history...this is NOT the book for you.
That said, Tanner does offer us a glimpse of the Afghanistan fighting spirit by giving us the wave tops to a few of their wars. While not giving us a complete survey of all wars Afghan, Tanner drives home one key point: Nobody wins wars against that geography.