In the 1960s and 70s Afghanistan was depicted in the media as the romantic haven of nomads and a resort for hashish-smoking hippies; in the 80s it was seen as a country where brave warriors fought against the 'evil' Soviet empire, and in the 90s redrawn as a semi-feudal land ruled by warlords and Islamic fundamentalists. In September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States thrust the country to the fore of international politics. The Afghans brings together these different outside perspectives to form one coherent story, telling the dramatic history of the land and peoples of Afghanistan from prehistoric times to the present day.
The book discusses a wide variety of subjects including the Indo-Iranian invasions of the second millennium BC, the Persian Achaemenids, Alexander the Great, the Islamic conquest, the Mongols and the rise of the kingdom of Afghanistan in the eighteenth century. The author pays special attention to recent developments, including the Soviet occupation of the country and Taliban rule. Much of the description of the contemporary period is based on the author's own experience of events. The history also draws on a wide variety of other sources, including archaeological, historical and linguistic materials.
For this new paperback edition, the author has provided a new final chapter covering events since 2001, including the fall of the Taliban, state building and foreign intervention in the region. The bibiliography has also been updated.