Ghosts of Afghanistan | Granta

  • Published: 05/07/2012
  • ISBN: 9781846274312
  • 129x20mm
  • 448 pages

Ghosts of Afghanistan

Jonathan Steele

Yes, there are dozens of books on the Afghan wars. Most of them are all about firefights and heroics. But this is the first to take the events of the war Bush and Blair started and put them in the context of the Soviet war and even the British imperial wars that preceded them, and draw the lessons out, and make a sharp summary of what should happen next.

Ghosts of Afghanistan stands out for the combination of its calm clarity and comprehensibility, the firmness of its arguments, Steele’s stature as an analyst of the region of 30 years standing, his position as the one UK journalist who had first access to the WikiLeaks cache on Afghanistan, and his interpretation of what he found there.

With a 30-year experience of reporting in Afghanistan, no-one has studied this extraordinary country more closely than Jonathan Steele, nor charted so meticulously how outside intervention has worsened internal discord. His is a sobering essay on the empire of folly.

Simon Jenkins

Jonathan Steele has covered the sweep of 30 years of history in Afghanistan and chronicled the lessons of first the Russian, and then the American-led occupations. They are lessons President Obama and his allies have still not fully grasped. This excellent book is a painfully honest account of successive unwinnable wars. It is the book Mr Obama and others will need if Afghanistan is ever to be left to find its own peace and prosperity.

Jon Snow, C4 News

Drawing on more than three decades of reporting from and on Afghanistan, Jonathan Steele offers the best account yet of why, in ignoring the lessons of the Soviet intervention, the Americans are condemned to make many of the same mistakes. A brilliant and disturbing book by one of the most acute and best informed contemporary observers of Afghanistan.

Sherard Cowper-Coles, UK Ambassador to Kabul 2007-9

The Author

Jonathan Steele was educated at Cambridge and Yale. He was Washington Bureau Chief, Moscow Bureau Chief, and Chief Foreign Correspondent for the Guardian. He is currently a columnist on international affairs. His previous book Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq was published in 2008. He has also written books on Russia, Germany and South Africa. His coverage of the Soviet Union’s Afghan war led to his International Reporter of the Year title in the British Press Awards for 1981, and his reporting on the US and British occupation of Helmand to the One World Media Press Award in 2011.

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