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Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion And The Afghan Response, 1979-1982
by M. Hassan Kakar
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From Library Journal
The Soviet ten-year debacle (1979-89) in Afghanistan has generated a growing literature represented recently by Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison's Out of Afghanistan (LJ 5/15/95) and now by Kakar's sophisticated analysis. The author is a well-respected Afghan historian who has published several volumes detailing Afghan history and who spent five years in a Kabul prison for his outspoken opposition to the Soviet occupation. From someone who has for years lived and studied Afghan society, culture, and politics, readers gain a deeper understanding of the complex issues that led to this conflict. Especially useful is the author's appendix, which contains short biographies of all the major Afghan participants. Kakar sadly relates that by the time the Soviets withdrew in 1989, "every ninth Afghan had died, every seventh (or eighth) has been disabled, every third had fled abroad." How much of this episode contributed to the ultimate demise of the Soviet Union is open to debate. What remains clear, however, is that it was a tragedy in every sense of the word. From Kakar the true horror of this unfortunate conflict is revealed. Recommended for all collections.?Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Few people are more respected or better positioned to speak on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan than M. Hassan Kakar. A professor at Kabul University and scholar of Afghanistan affairs at the time of the 1978 coup d'état, Kakar vividly describes the events surrounding the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the encounter between the military superpower and the poorly armed Afghans. The events that followed are carefully detailed, with eyewitness accounts and authoritative documentation that provide an unparalleled view of this historical moment.
Because of his prominence Kakar was at first treated with deference by the Marxist government and was not imprisoned, although he openly criticized the regime. When he was put behind bars the outcry from scholars all over the world possibly saved his life. In prison for five years, he continued collecting information, much of it from prominent Afghans of varying political persuasions who were themselves prisoners.
Kakar brings firsthand knowledge and a historian's sensibility to his account of the invasion and its aftermath. This is both a personal document and a historical one--Kakar lived through the events he describes, and his concern for human rights rather than party politics infuses his writing. As Afghans and the rest of the world try to make sense of Afghanistan's recent past, Kakar's voice will be one of those most listened to.
From the Inside Flap
"The times Kakar writes about have . . . pervasively influenced every life in Afghanistan. . . . He was continuously faced with different versions of the Afghan experience as his country went through one of the great cataclysms of its history. We are fortunate to have his account."--Robert Canfield, editor of Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective
"This is the first history of recent events in Afghanistan by a native historian trained in London. Kakar writes objectively about the Soviets, the Afghan government, and the Mujahideen. With personal observations, including years spent in Kabul's notorious Pul-i Charkhi prison, this book is unique in revealing many events hitherto not known or recorded. It will remain a standard work on . . . contemporary Afghanistan."--Richard N. Frye, Harvard University
"Kakar, one of Afghanistan's most distinguished scholars, has provided an outstanding account of a complex and interesting phase of modern Afghanistan history. . . . A fascinating and absorbing analysis . . . exhaustive and most valuable."--Vartan Gregorian, President, Brown University
From the Back Cover
"The times Kakar writes about have . . . pervasively influenced every life in Afghanistan. . . . He was continuously faced with different versions of the Afghan experience as his country went through one of the great cataclysms of its history. We are fortunate to have his account." (Robert Canfield, editor of Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective)
About the Author
M. Hassan Kakar was born in Laghman, Afghanistan, and now lives in San Diego. He has published several works of history and translated books of fiction and nonfiction from English into his native Pashto and Deri.
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