Ghosts of Afghanistan by Jonathan Steele
The Haunted Battleground

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A masterful blend of graphic reporting, illuminating interviews, and insightful analysis. Ghosts of Afghanistan is the first account of Afghanistan's turbulent recent history by an independent eyewitness.

Jonathan Steele, an award-winning journalist and commentator, has covered the country since his first visit there as a reporter in 1981. He tracked the Soviet occupation and the communist regime of Najibullah, which held the Western-backed resistance at bay for three years after the Soviets left. He covered the arrival of the Taliban to power in Kabul in 1996, and their retreat from Kandahar under the weight of U.S. bombing in 2001. Most recently Steele has reported from the epicenter of the Taliban resurgence in Helmand.

Ghosts of Afghanistan turns a spotlight on the numerous myths about Afghanistan that have bedeviled foreign policy-makers and driven them to repeat earlier mistakes. Steele has conducted numerous interviews with ordinary Afghans, two of the country's Communist presidents, senior Soviet occupation officials, as well as Taliban leaders, Western diplomats, NATO advisers, and United Nations negotiators.

Comparing the challenges facing the Obama Administration as it seeks to find an exit strategy with those the Kremlin faced in the 1980s, Steele cautions that military victory will elude the West just as it eluded the Kremlin. Showing how and why Soviet efforts to negotiate an end to the war came to nothing, he explains how negotiations today could put a stop to the tragedies of civil war and foreign intervention that have afflicted Afghanistan for three decades.

About Jonathan Steele

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Jonathan Steele was Moscow bureau chief for "The Guardian" [UK] until the spring of 1994. He was named International Reporter of the Year in the British Press Awards in 1981 and in 1991. He also won the London Press Club's Scoop of the Year Award for being the only British or American reporter to get to Gorbachev's prison villa in the Crimea during the 1991 coup.
Published October 1, 2011 by Counterpoint. 450 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ghosts of Afghanistan

The Guardian

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It seems more likely that the Americans and their allies will eventually leave as the Russians did, without the broad settlement that alone can ensure that the civil war does not resume.

Sep 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Ha...

Publishers Weekly

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Steele (Defeat), former chief foreign correspondent for the Guardian, surveys 30 years of war in Afghanistan in this impressionistic history.

Aug 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Ha...

The Army Rumour Service

Having read quite a few other books on similar subjects - Rodric Braithwaite's 'Aghansty' and James Fergusson's 'Taliban' stand out - this book looked at the subject from a totally different angle.

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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.

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