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The American War in Afghanistan: A History (Hardcover)
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A New York Times Notable Book
Winner of 2022 Lionel Gelber Prize The first authoritative history of America's longest war by one of the world's leading scholar-practitioners. The American war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001, is now the longest armed conflict in the nation's history. It is currently winding down, and American troops are likely to leave soon -- but only after a stay of nearly two decades. In The American War in Afghanistan, Carter Malkasian provides the first comprehensive history of the entire conflict. Malkasian is both a leading academic authority on the subject and an experienced practitioner, having spent nearly two years working in the Afghan countryside and going on to serve as the senior advisor to General Joseph Dunford, the US military commander in Afghanistan and later the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Drawing from a deep well of local knowledge, understanding of Pashto, and review of primary source documents, Malkasian moves through the war's multiple phases: the 2001 invasion and after; the light American footprint during the 2003 Iraq invasion; the resurgence of the Taliban in 2006, the Obama-era surge, and the various resets in strategy and force allocations that occurred from 2011 onward, culminating in the 2018-2020 peace talks. Malkasian lived through much of it, and draws from his own experiences to provide a unique vantage point on the war.
Today, the Taliban is the most powerful faction, and sees victory as probable. The ultimate outcome after America leaves is inherently unpredictable given the multitude of actors there, but one thing is sure: the war did not go as America had hoped. Although the al-Qa'eda leader Osama bin Laden was killed and no major attack on the American homeland was carried out after 2001, the United States was unable to end the violence or hand off the war to the Afghan authorities, which could not survive without US military backing. The American War in Afghanistan explains why the war had such a disappointing outcome. Wise and all-encompassing, The American War in Afghanistan provides a truly vivid portrait of the conflict in all of its phases that will remain the authoritative account for years to come.
About the Author
Carter Malkasian, Special Assistant for Strategy to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (General Joseph Dunford), from 2015 to 2019. Carter Malkasian was the Special Assistant for Strategy to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, from 2015 to 2019. He has extensive experience working in Afghanistan through multiple deployments throughout the country. The highlight of his work is nearly two years in Garmser district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, as a State Department political officer and the district stabilization team leader. He is the author of War Comes to Garmser: Thirty Years of Conflict on the Afghan Frontier (Oxford University Press) and Illusions of Victory: The Anbar Awakening and the Rise of the Islamic State (Oxford). He has a doctorate in history from Oxford and is fluent in Pashto.
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