Reading: Rodric Braithwaite – Afghansty: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89

This year I’ve been attempting to fill in an embarrassing omission in my Central Asian studies. Mainly because my interest is on the borders of the ~stans with what is now called China, my attention to the history of this region has been directed from the east rather than north-west.

Not to say I’ve been explicitly ignoring the history and role of Russia, which would be a perverse accomplishment (and I do have a fondness for Peter Hopkirk’s questionable Great Game romps), but specifically focussing on this subject is something that has filled me with trepidation. After all, Russia is huge, keeping up with the reading on China and Central Asia alone is a pitiful undertaking, and I’m really not ready to find myself digested by another geographic locale.

Still … In Moscow’s Shadows – about the only Russian blog I read – gave a favourable short review of Braithwaite’s Afghansty, and having become more curious about this period (Louis Dupree’s brilliant Afghanistan, even in later editions doesn’t cover the Russian era so thoroughly, and much published since has a distinct American-Taliban emphasis), thought this would be a good place to start.