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The Afghan Wars 1839-42 and 1878-80

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The Afghan Wars of 1839-1842 and 1878-1880 were the direct result of Russian and British imperial designs for the expansions of the respective spheres of influence. This book is a scholarly history of those wars.


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The Afghan Wars of 1839-1842 and 1878-1880 were the direct result of Russian and British imperial designs for the expansions of the respective spheres of influence. This book is a scholarly history of those wars.

30 review for The Afghan Wars 1839-42 and 1878-80

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This book is an important and comprehensive account of military history, but it may seem arcane to most readers today. Indeed, many, if not most Americans are entirely unaware of the long conflict the UK had in this region of the world. Having a son who served 2 tours in Afghanistan, I was interested in becoming more familiar with the history of the conflicts in this sad country. In that respect, the book did not disappoint. Written from an obvious pro-British perspective, nevertheless there are This book is an important and comprehensive account of military history, but it may seem arcane to most readers today. Indeed, many, if not most Americans are entirely unaware of the long conflict the UK had in this region of the world. Having a son who served 2 tours in Afghanistan, I was interested in becoming more familiar with the history of the conflicts in this sad country. In that respect, the book did not disappoint. Written from an obvious pro-British perspective, nevertheless there are a lot of lessons from history here from which American leadership could definitely benefit. Many memorable passages revealed to me just how little has changed in the Afghan culture and worldview in the past 175 years. The author offers many insights and anecdotes that are still full of wisdom. For example: "When historians write of Afghan treachery and guile, it seems to have escaped their perception that Afghan treachery was but a phase of Afghan patriotism, of an unscrupulous character, doubtless, according to our notions, but nevertheless practical in its methods, and not wholly unsuccessful in its results." "The patriotism of a savage race is marked by features repulsive to civilised communities, but through the ruthless cruelty of the indiscriminate massacre, the treachery of the stealthy stab, and the lightly broken pledges, there may shine out the noblest virtue that a virile people can possess. A semi-barbarian nation whose manhood pours out its blood like water in stubborn resistance against an alien yoke, may be pardoned for many acts shocking to civilised communities which have not known the bitterness of stern and masterful subjugation." "We have nothing to fear from Afghanistan, and the best thing to do is to leave it as much as possible to itself. It may not be very flattering to our amour propre, but I feel sure I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us. Should Russia in future years attempt to conquer Afghanistan, or invade India through it, we should have a better chance of attaching the Afghans to our interest if we avoid all interference with them in the meantime" (quoting Sir Frederick Roberts). Afghans had no more love then for outsiders than they do now. And the tactics that insurgents used then against their occupiers haven't changed all that much over time. For these reasons alone, Forbes's book ought to be read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    Forbes' account of the two Afghan Wars in the 19th Century very quickly gives the reader a clear picture of what Afghanistan was like at the time and the scope of the difficulty involved in conquering it and maintaining a hold within the space. The book is divided logically into two sections, one for each war, which Forbes outlines in great detail. The First Afghan War is the disaster one and shows clearly how badly the British army had been prepared to deal with the environment and locals. Cons Forbes' account of the two Afghan Wars in the 19th Century very quickly gives the reader a clear picture of what Afghanistan was like at the time and the scope of the difficulty involved in conquering it and maintaining a hold within the space. The book is divided logically into two sections, one for each war, which Forbes outlines in great detail. The First Afghan War is the disaster one and shows clearly how badly the British army had been prepared to deal with the environment and locals. Considering that the British army was one of the best armies (if not, the best!) in the world at the time, the fact that the troops in Afghanistan were nearly entirely wiped out by the Afghani tribesmen is staggering and somewhat worrying... The Second Afghan War went considerably better, but not without difficulties, which Forbes outlines well and clearly. And then the British, rather sensibly, leave Afghanistan (ironically, I would believe, the next actual military engagement involving Britain and Afghanistan would be the war in 2003, and the difficulties in that war echo rather surprisingly closely the difficulties of the 19th Century Wars - a friend commented to me that 'invading Afghanistan works fine, but don't try to stay'). The book is well structured, well written and provides a very good summary of the time from a perspective of a contemporary author, which gives an insight into the views of the time on the war (again, views not very unlike the views about the ongoing current war). A very, very useful book if you're interested in Afghanistan, those particular Wars or the British Empire...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Merghani

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Brooks

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gary

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  7. 4 out of 5

    John donnelly

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ted

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  10. 5 out of 5

    Keith Clasen

  11. 5 out of 5

    Noah

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jon Vanderstouwe

  13. 4 out of 5

    Iain

  14. 4 out of 5

    Papias

  15. 4 out of 5

    paul

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Lembke

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tarun Rattan

  18. 5 out of 5

    zeeshan naseem

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angela Reed-Fox

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Fullerton

  21. 4 out of 5

    Janet MacLeod Trotter

  22. 5 out of 5

    brijendra prasad nailwal

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tony Tauro

  24. 5 out of 5

    Golda Eldridge

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Armchair

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Jason Fallows

  28. 5 out of 5

    Edlab

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill Mullen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Dzemske

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