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234 × 156 mm
784 pages
105 illustrations
12 Nov 2018

Afghanistan A History from 1260 to the Present Day Jonathan L. Lee

Located at the intersection of Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan has been strategically important for thousands of years. Its ancient trade routes and strategic position between India, Inner Asia, China, Persia and beyond has meant the region has been subject to frequent invasions. Modern Afghanistan is a culturally and ethnically diverse country, but one divided by conflict, political instability and by mass displacements of its people.

Jonathan L. Lee places the current conflict in Afghanistan in its historical context and challenges many of the West’s preconceived ideas about the country. Lee chronicles the region’s monarchic rules and the Durrani dynasty, focusing on the reigns of each ruler and their efforts to balance tribal, ethnic, regional and religious factions, moving on to the struggle for social and constitutional reform and the rise of Islamic and Communist factions. He offers new cultural and political insights from Persian histories, the memoirs of Afghan government officials, British government and India Office archives, recently released CIA reports and WikiLeaks documents. Lee also sheds new light on the country’s foreign relations, its internal power struggles and the impact of foreign military interventions such as the ‘War on Terror’.

EXTRACT: to read an extract from chapter one, Afghan Sultanates, 1260-1732, please click here.

‘A comprehensive history of a storied nation held together by an alliance of tribal and political groups that threatens to dissolve at any moment . . . Anyone seeking to understand a complex, even bewildering part of the world will benefit from Lee’s careful account.’ – Kirkus Reviews

‘An epic achievement: at once a model of clarity, accuracy and balance and a testament to Jonathan Lee's learning and life-long erudition in Afghan primary sources. Authoritative and remarkably comprehensive, it deserves to become the standard English-language history of Afghanistan.’
– William Dalrymple

‘This is the most comprehensive available history of power and politics in Afghanistan, from the medieval period to the present. The narrative spans a millennium of history, from the Ghaznavids to Ashraf Ghani. It deliberately locates the roots of modern Afghanistan in the succession of Muslim entities that developed military power, government and civilization in northern India and on either side of the Hindukush. There are detailed treatments of issues from the “classical” right up to contemporary Afghan affairs which includes the consequences of aid to the anti-Soviet mujahideen, the roots of the Taliban movement, the inadequacy of the Bonn Agreement as a basis for peace, Islamic identity and the state, and militarization of humanitarian assistance and governance reform and corruption. This work is an encyclopaedia of the ways in which the past helps shape the ideas and possibilities of the present.’
– Michael Semple, Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen’s University Belfast

‘This work is the last word on the history of Afghanistan and I have no hesitation in recommending it.’
– Dr Chris Wyatt, University of Birmingham, author of Afghanistan in the Defence of Empire

‘Lee’s book combines nuanced attention to the dynamic variety of regional, religious and tribal identities, loyalties, alliances and resources within Afghanistan, while also constructively engaging with the diverse and changing constellation of external actors, agencies and pressures in this new history of Afghanistan.’ – Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, Professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian History at James Madison University

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Jonathan L. Lee is a social and cultural historian and a leading authority on the history of Afghanistan. His previous books include The ‘Ancient Supremacy’, Bukhara, Afghanistan and the Battle for Balkh, 1732–1901 (1996) and Amazing Wonders of Afghanistan (2014).