Academic journal article Military Review

Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to America's Longest War

Academic journal article Military Review

Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to America's Longest War

Article excerpt

AFGHANISTAN DECLASSIFIED

A Guide to America's Longest War

Brian Glyn Williams,

University of Pennsylvania Press,

Philadelphia, 2012, 248 pages, $34.95

BRIAN GLYN WILLIAMS of Dartmouth University, author of the Army's field guide to Afghanistan in 2007, has translated the field guide into civilian language. Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to America's Longest War retains the organization, takeaways and lessons, and tone of the Army's field guide but adds a variety of the author's personal experiences and analysis. Williams has interacted with the Afghans and brings knowledge and experience to his work. He gives a nuanced, hopeful view of Afghanistan and its people.

Williams describes Afghanistan's ethnic and geographic makeup while weaving in events of historical and cultural significance. The sections on ethnography and geography are useful, but the book's historical sections are its true strength. Williams uses a chronological approach, but follows the thread of a topic, person, or event to the present day. A treatment of Ahmed Shah Durrani turns into a discussion on centralization within Afghanistan through the present day, and the section on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan leads into a section on Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, which transitions naturally to his continued leadership of the Hezb I Islam Gulbuddin. …

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