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The Soviet-Afghan War 1979-89

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The Soviet invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan in December 1979 sparked a bloody nine-year conflict with the Mujahideen until Soviet forces withdrew in 1988-89, dooming the communist Afghanistan government to defeat by Afghan popular resistance backed by the USA and other powers. The Soviet invasion had enormous implications on the global stage; it prompted the US Senate The Soviet invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan in December 1979 sparked a bloody nine-year conflict with the Mujahideen until Soviet forces withdrew in 1988-89, dooming the communist Afghanistan government to defeat by Afghan popular resistance backed by the USA and other powers. The Soviet invasion had enormous implications on the global stage; it prompted the US Senate to refuse to ratify the hard-won SALT II arms-limitation treaty, and the USA and 64 other countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. For Afghanistan, the invasion served to prolong the interminable civil war that pitted central government against the regions and faction against faction. The country remains locked in conflict over 30 years later, with no end in sight. For over a year before the invasion the communist Afghan government, installed following a coup and intent on forcibly modernizing the country's civil law in the face of centuries of feudal practices, had called for Soviet armed assistance in its efforts to overcome the open rebellion of the Mujahideen. Fearing the international consequences should the Afghan government be toppled, the Soviets decided to invade. From the outset, though, they failed to understand that communist principles were incompatible with traditional tribal relationships - especially in a country notorious for its poor communications and resistance to centralization. The Soviets found that their forces, largely made up of conscripts untrained in mountain warfare and counter-insurgency - and deploying 'conventional' weapons such as tanks and helicopters - could not defeat guerrillas enjoying the support of both the local population and powerful foreign allies such as the USA, and operating in harsh mountainous and/or desert terrain that favoured the defenders. The Soviets decided to stage a phased withdrawal of their own forces and concentrated on building up the Afghan government forces, but the Mujahideen soon prevailed, ushering in a new era dominated by the Taliban, an Islamist militia group that controlled large parts of the country from the mid-1990s. Featuring specially drawn mapping and drawing upon a wide range of sources, this succinct account explains the origins, history and consequences of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, thereby shedding new light on the more recent history - and prospects - of that troubled country.


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The Soviet invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan in December 1979 sparked a bloody nine-year conflict with the Mujahideen until Soviet forces withdrew in 1988-89, dooming the communist Afghanistan government to defeat by Afghan popular resistance backed by the USA and other powers. The Soviet invasion had enormous implications on the global stage; it prompted the US Senate The Soviet invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan in December 1979 sparked a bloody nine-year conflict with the Mujahideen until Soviet forces withdrew in 1988-89, dooming the communist Afghanistan government to defeat by Afghan popular resistance backed by the USA and other powers. The Soviet invasion had enormous implications on the global stage; it prompted the US Senate to refuse to ratify the hard-won SALT II arms-limitation treaty, and the USA and 64 other countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. For Afghanistan, the invasion served to prolong the interminable civil war that pitted central government against the regions and faction against faction. The country remains locked in conflict over 30 years later, with no end in sight. For over a year before the invasion the communist Afghan government, installed following a coup and intent on forcibly modernizing the country's civil law in the face of centuries of feudal practices, had called for Soviet armed assistance in its efforts to overcome the open rebellion of the Mujahideen. Fearing the international consequences should the Afghan government be toppled, the Soviets decided to invade. From the outset, though, they failed to understand that communist principles were incompatible with traditional tribal relationships - especially in a country notorious for its poor communications and resistance to centralization. The Soviets found that their forces, largely made up of conscripts untrained in mountain warfare and counter-insurgency - and deploying 'conventional' weapons such as tanks and helicopters - could not defeat guerrillas enjoying the support of both the local population and powerful foreign allies such as the USA, and operating in harsh mountainous and/or desert terrain that favoured the defenders. The Soviets decided to stage a phased withdrawal of their own forces and concentrated on building up the Afghan government forces, but the Mujahideen soon prevailed, ushering in a new era dominated by the Taliban, an Islamist militia group that controlled large parts of the country from the mid-1990s. Featuring specially drawn mapping and drawing upon a wide range of sources, this succinct account explains the origins, history and consequences of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, thereby shedding new light on the more recent history - and prospects - of that troubled country.

30 review for The Soviet-Afghan War 1979-89

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Well written, lots of pretty maps and diagrams and photos. A solid short intro text. Seems like the Russians really goofed this one up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sean Chick

    This is a good introduction to a complicated war, one that is arguably the most important conflict of the era since it helped destroy the Soviet Union and led to the rise of the Taliban. I liked the concentration on training and tactics in the conflict, and the lack either Cold War era hawk rhetoric or apologies for radical Islam. Instead you get a cold, unflinching portrayal of a remorseless war.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    An eighteen year civil war (ten of which involved the Soviets) packed into 91 pages... difficult at best to put everything in so small a space. I liked it, though - - I didn't find it boring... and it gave me a good overview of what happened. If I want more details - I'll find a 300+ page book on it - but for right now - this book did it for me. I wish it talked a little more about the capture of Kabul by the Taliban in 1996 - - but again - 91 pages isn't much space. I highly recommend this book An eighteen year civil war (ten of which involved the Soviets) packed into 91 pages... difficult at best to put everything in so small a space. I liked it, though - - I didn't find it boring... and it gave me a good overview of what happened. If I want more details - I'll find a 300+ page book on it - but for right now - this book did it for me. I wish it talked a little more about the capture of Kabul by the Taliban in 1996 - - but again - 91 pages isn't much space. I highly recommend this book if you want a crash course.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bruinrefugee

    A decent primer on this important conflict that in many ways decided the Cold War and that frames the last decade for the US, particularly it's wars abroad. Due to the length of the conflict, the shortness of space and the irregular nature of the war, this is not a blow-by-blow recounting, but it is a helpful overview.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    It's definitely better than their book about The Thirty Years War, but it's still not an incredible book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bogdan

    Din motive ideologice, URSS a invadat în 1979 Afganistanul, o țară extrem de săracă din inima Asiei centrale, cam de două ori și jumătate mai mare decât România. Din nefericire pentru cei peste jumătate de milion de soldați sovietici care vor ajunge în Afganistan în cei 9 ani cât a durat războiul, această țară stâncoasă avea și are o tristă faimă de a fi „cimitirul imperiilor”, numeroase super-puteri găsindu-și înfrângerea în munții și deșertul de acolo. Prost concepută, slab aprovizionată și li Din motive ideologice, URSS a invadat în 1979 Afganistanul, o țară extrem de săracă din inima Asiei centrale, cam de două ori și jumătate mai mare decât România. Din nefericire pentru cei peste jumătate de milion de soldați sovietici care vor ajunge în Afganistan în cei 9 ani cât a durat războiul, această țară stâncoasă avea și are o tristă faimă de a fi „cimitirul imperiilor”, numeroase super-puteri găsindu-și înfrângerea în munții și deșertul de acolo. Prost concepută, slab aprovizionată și lipsită de motivație ideologică, invazia și efortul sovietic s-a împotmolit într-o serie de conflicte locale, la nivel de regiment și batalion, cu luptătorii de gueriilă locali, temuții mujahedini. Deja o axiomă, cartea este construită pe șablonul editurii militare Osprey, deci ne oferă elementele standard pe care am ajuns să le cunoaștem foarte bine: per total este un text introductiv excelent pentru acest subiect, fiind și un excelent punct de plecare pentru cei care... etc etc. Fotografiile sunt din păcate alb-negru, iar hărțile sunt mai limitate de această dată. Pe lângă enumerarea celor patru etape ale războiului, autorul ne mai prezintă și fragmente din memoriile unui veteran sovietic dar și ale unui jurnalist de război, precum și o scurtă prezntare rurală a Afganistanului. Stilul autorului este destul de accesibil și curgător, informațiile transmise fiind destul de nepărtinitoare. Deci, o carte Osprey bună.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mehmet Akif Koç

    Well-written summary of the Soviet-Afghan relations and 1979-89 invasion... Also provides the sui generis characteristics of the Afghan people, country and geography that create the proper conditions for resistance against the foreign invaders since Alexander, Mongols, Persians, Britons and finally Russians, as well as the Americans and other potential invaders... The inside maps and photographs are also well-selected.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    A general overview of the Soviet War effort in Afghanistan and what went wrong with it, which was nearly everything. It is covering a large subject in a small amount of pages so it is of necessity generalize but provides a good first look at what happened and why.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Fairly poor for Osprey to be honest. The pictures were excellent, the information not so much, just felt like it needed more.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Richard Trattner

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Walker

  12. 4 out of 5

    Davor

  13. 4 out of 5

    Otincelescu

  14. 4 out of 5

    Oana

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vulturs

  16. 5 out of 5

    Catalin Dinu

  17. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wright

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mihai Despa

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tim Brown

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrei

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nrtashi

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ionuţ Vrânceanu

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joe Collins

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cristi Pitulice

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mughees

  29. 5 out of 5

    Simon Gill

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frédéric

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