Afghan Way of War: How and Why They Fight

Robert Johnson (Author)


Focusing on key episodes in Afghanistan's long history of conflict with foreign forces from the early nineteenth century to the present, this book sheds new light on the Afghan "Way of War." Robert Johnson shows that, contrary to the stereotypes of primitive warriors enflamed with religious fanaticism, Afghan warfare has been marked by constant change as Afghani methods evolved to face new threats.

From the dynastic struggles and popular resistance movements of the nineteenth century to the ideological confrontations of recent decades, Afghans have long resisted political coercion, military intervention, and foreign influence. To do so, they have developed sophisticated strategic approaches to deal with both internal unrest and foreign intrusion, while at the tactical level outthinking and outfighting their opponents at every step. The final part of the book, which deals with how the Taliban has contested Western intervention by borrowing from traditions in Afghan history and culture, will be of considerable topical interest in light of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
December 12, 2011
6.3 X 1.6 X 9.3 inches | 1.4 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Robert Johnson is Lecturer in the History of War at Oxford University, and Deputy Director of the Oxford Changing Character of War Program. A former army officer, and frequent visitor to Afghanistan, he specializes in the history of the Afghans.


"Should be required reading for the leaders of both the U.S. and U.K., as well as the grunts on Afghan soil."

"[The Afghan Way of War] sets the standard for military history of this war-torn country. It is excellent...scrupulously researched from both primary and secondary sources. It's very well written and put together logically....Anyone deploying to the country as a soldier or civilian with room in his knapsack for one book should put aside the production line 'counterinsurgency' works and take this. Others who want to understand Afghan military art and history should add it to their library."--MHQ Reviews