Afghanistan at War
From the 18th-Century Durrani Dynasty to the 21st Century
by Tom Lansford, Editor
February 2017, 581pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-759-8
$121, £94, 106€, A166
eBook Available: 978-1-59884-760-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Afghanistan has been in a constant state of war since 1978, resulting in an estimated 1.5–2 million casualties in a population of 30 million.

Covering wars and conflicts of Afghanistan from the modern founding of the country in the 1700s to the contemporary struggle with the Taliban, this single-volume reference analyzes the causes and results of Afghanistan's wars and examines leading political and military figures, weapons, and tactics.

Afghanistan has been embroiled in war and conflict throughout the latter part of the 20th century as well as the current millennium, but due to its location at the crossroads of Central Asia, Afghanistan has also endured repeated conquests throughout its turbulent earlier times. Examining Afghanistan’s long military history through this book will enable readers to grasp the wider sociopolitical history of the country; appreciate the impact of these wars on Southwest Asia and superpowers such as Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States; and understand why Afghanistan remains a controversial battleground today.

The alphabetically organized entries examine the major wars and conflicts of Afghanistan from the modern founding of the country during the Durrani Dynasty in the 1700s through the contemporary struggle with the Taliban. The book spotlights the role of key individuals in starting, pursuing, or ending conflicts, as well as their broader contributions to—or negative impact on—Afghanistan and the international arena. The work also presents essays that examine key subtopics such as weapons, tactics, ethnic groups, religion, and foreign relations. This allows the reader—whether a student, scholar, or member of a nonacademic audience—to examine a topic in depth and see how the event, figure, or movement fits into the broader history of Afghanistan.


  • Provides readers with a thorough background on the wars of Afghanistan that allows them to understand the influence of past conflicts on current strife
  • Enables a more complete appreciation of the ethnic and religious complexities that fuel the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan
  • Examines how past Afghan conflicts contributed to the rise of terrorism and figures such as Osama bin Laden
  • Presents an accessible explanation of the "Great Game" for power and influence by imperial Russia and Great Britain in the 1800s and the impact of this contest on Afghanistan
Tom Lansford, PhD, is professor of political science at the University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, MS. His books include ABC-CLIO's 9/11 and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Chronology and Reference Guide; A Bitter Harvest: US Foreign Policy and Afghanistan; and the edited work, Political Handbook of the World.


"The cogent essays on key geopolitical and socioeconomic factors, as well as political movements and leaders through the centuries, provide an in-depth understanding of the past and present for the general and academic reader. The work is enhanced by 15 primary documents at the relevant entries, further reading and see also references at the end of articles, black-and-white photos, helpful maps, an extensive chronology, excellent recommended resources, and an accurate and thorough index."—Booklist, May 4, 2017

"[T]he work provides a very good overview of nearly three centuries of conflict in Afghanistan. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. All libraries. All levels."—Choice, September 1, 2017

"College students and those who want a big-picture view of Afghanistan’s military history over the last few centuries will find this a useful place to begin."—Library Journal, May 9, 2017

"All ABC-CLIO reference volumes are first rate, and this one is no different. . . . Since past history would indicate that wars in Afghanistan are not likely to cease in the future, this volume is a very good summation of where we stand at this point in time."—ARBA, March 13, 2018
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