Reaching back to earliest times, Martin Ewans examines the historical evolution of one of today's most dangerous breeding grounds of global terrorism. After a succession of early dynasties and the emergence of an Afghan empire during the eighteenth century, the nineteenth and early twentieth century saw a fierce power struggle between Russia and Britain for supremacy in Afghanistan that was ended by the nation's proclamation of independence in 1919. A communist coup in the late 1970s overthrew the established regime and led to the invasion of Soviet troops in 1979. Roughly a decade later, the Soviet Union withdrew, condemning Afghanistan to a civil war that tore apart the nation's last remnants of religious, ethnic, and political unity. It was into this climate that the Taliban was born.
Today, war-torn and economically destitute, Afghanistan faces unique challenges as it looks toward an uncertain future. Martin Ewans carefully weighs the lessons of history to provide a frank look at Afghanistan's prospects and the international resonances of the nation's immense task of total political and economic reconstruction.
Adult/High School-Spanning a period from thousands of years B.C.E. through September 11, 2001, Ewans ambitiously covers an incredible scope of this country's history. While the writing is dry at times, the information goes a long way toward putting the nation's current situation in perspective. Events leading up to and during the Soviet invasion in the late '70s are especially intriguing, as is the explanation of the mujahadin's emergence. More than half the book dwells on 20th-century happenings, with quite a bit of fascinating detail on conditions in Afghanistan during the '90s. Light is shed on how and why the Taliban movement gained power. Discussion on drug trafficking includes statistics on opium production. A five-page epilogue analyzes the impact of 9/11 and subsequent actions taken to bring down the Taliban and to snuff out bin Laden and his Al Qaeda operations. Remarkably thorough text is supplemented by a diagram of the Durrani dynasty; a section of 38 black-and-white glossy plates showing not only historical places and figures, but also early coinage; and 8 geopolitical maps. A former diplomat who served in Afghanistan, Ewans has written a timely and useful book that proffers insight into a country that until recently had been overlooked by most of the world.-Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.