Jon's Reviews > Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History

Afghanistan by Thomas Barfield
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Sep 23, 2011

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bookshelves: books-read-2011
Read from August 16 to September 23, 2011

Well there were parts of this book that were very interesting and compelling reading and other parts that dragged. This is a completely subjective point of view I realize that because I am more interested in the current state of affairs in Afghanistan and this is my second book that is somewhat related to this. I read last In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan by Seth G. Jones which I found to be a more enjoyable read. Having said this, some might find it fascinating to read about the various dynasties since the 16th century and previous wars but I had a hard time with it and it seemed Barfield dedicated too much of the book to this subject. I realize he was establishing context but I think most of his readers are more familiar with the 20th and 21st century Afghanistan, so I think he short-sighted that analysis a little bit. I did enjoy the first chapter discussing the cultural aspects of Afghanistan as well as the later parts of book covering the 2nd half of the 20th century, the 21st century and the conclusion chapter was air tight. This only comprised about 150 pages of the 350. Nontheless as a numer of people have stated, this is unquestionably in my opinion the quintessential book about understanding Afghanistan, particularly its importance on the world stage. I do recommend anyone who has some degree of patience and doesn't mind some dull reading in parts that has a curiosity about Afghanistan to give this book a try. But if you are looking for pleasurable historical reading this isn't it.
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