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Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Storyby Paul Fitzgerald
Synopses & Reviews
Despite official declarations, the war in Afghanistan is far from over; in fact, it's escalating. Seven years after 9/11, the Taliban continue to regroup, attack, and claim influence over most of the region. This book presents a fresh, comprehensive analysis of Afghanistan's political history that begins at the roots of tribal leadership and ultimately emphasizes our present political moment and the impact of ongoing US military intervention.
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, first went to Afghanistan in 1981 and have reported for CBS News, Nightline, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Their documentary Between Three Worldswas broadcast by PBS.
"Journalists Fitzgerald and Gould do yeoman's labor in clearing the fog and laying bare American failures in Afghanistan in this deeply researched, cogently argued and enormously important book. The authors demonstrate how closely American actions are tied to past miscalculations — and how U.S. policy has placed Afghans and Americans in grave danger. Long at cultural crossroads, Afghanistan's location poised the country to serve as 'a fragile buffer' between rival empires. Great Britain's 1947 creation of an arbitrary and indefensible border between Afghanistan and the newly minted Pakistan 'from the Afghan point of view...has always been the problem,' but particularly after 9/11 American policymakers have paid scant attention to the concerns of Afghans, preferring to shoehorn an imagined Afghanistan into U.S. power paradigms. 'The United States is in a fight for its life, not because of [9/11]... but because of the way America responded.... That response was at once wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and... ineffective,' the authors argue, calling on the incoming president to make radical changes. 'Osama is not beating the United States.... The United States is beating itself, and beating itself badly.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story is a defining work of great wisdom and depth in which the authors get to the bottom of the cauldron that is Afghanistan. We cannot fully understand today’s Afghanistan without reading this insightful book. Afghanistan was the first war in the US war on terror. Understanding Afghanistan is the key to the current war. You could not start at a better place than this book. To understand why eight years later it is still being fought, Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story is a must read." Ahmed Rashid author of Taliban and Descent into Chaos
"Seasoned journalists Fitzgerald and Gould . . . deliver a probing history of the country and a critical evaluation of American involvement in recent decades. . . .The authors ably demystify Afghan efforts in the wake of 9/11, delineating its destroyed culture and offering a cogent plan for the next American president. A fresh perspective on a little-understood nation." Kirkus Reviews
"The fog obscuring U.S. policies in Afghanistan is thicker than elsewhere in the region. The authors cut through it meticulously, exposing layers of cultural arrogance and myopia. They demonstrate with painful clarity how these traits helped push our would-be ally into the Soviet orbit, causing us to arm and promote the violent extremists we're fighting today. When confronted with al-Qaeda's nihilism on 9/11, our response was 'wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and ... ineffective.'" Dallas Morning News
"Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story is a critically important contribution to our understanding of some of the most dramatic and significant developments of current history." Noam Chomsky
"Seasoned journalists Fitzgerald and Gould — co-producers of the 1981 PBS documentary Afghanistan Between the Wars — deliver a probing history of the country and a critical evaluation of American involvement in recent decades....The authors ably demystify Afghan efforts in the wake of 9/11, delineating its destroyed culture and offering a cogent plan for the next American president. A fresh perspective on a little-understood nation." Kirkus Reviews
"Utilizing 20 years of experience of researching and reporting on Afghanistan, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould seek to clarify and contextualize the current situation in conflict-torn Afghanistan with this comprehensive history. The material covers events starting in ancient antiquity, but puts a heavy emphasis on the second half of the 20th century through the end of 2007. The work concludes with analysis and strategy recommendations for the incoming American President and is supplemented by an appendix of historical maps." The Middle East Journal
"I think your account of the Russian motivation at the time of the invasion and afterwards strikes me as being quite authentic. Prime minister Kosygin didn’t vote for the intervention. He had his doubts and he was absent from the meeting." Charles Cogan at the Cambridge Forum, February 4, 2009
Cogan was Chief of the Near East-South Asia Division in the Operations Directorate of the CIA from 1979 to 1984. He is now at the Kennedy School.
"There's more to Afghanistan's history than the rise and fall of the Taliban. Afghanistan's Untold Story is a look at the oft forgotten long and storied history of the Afghani people. Drawing the tale from thousands of years ago in ancient times to what Afghanistan was like before the infamous wars with the Soviet Union, it tells the story from the Afghani perspective, leading to a fascinating story of a war-torn people. Afghanistan's Untold Story is enthralling history reading, a great pick indeed." Midwest Book Review
"Nearly 30 years after their first foray into the land-locked buffer state, married couple and journalist-historians Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould could not have chosen a more appropriate time to publish their comprehensive Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story . . . A chronically disinformed US public should leap at the chance to familiarize themselves with an honest overview of their country's historically scandalous involvement in the region." Anthony Fenton, Asia Times
"Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould give a current examination of the last hundred years in Afghanistan. ... Ms. Wali describes this book, which has gotten rave reviews everywhere, as a 'phenomenal compendium of .. the complex dynamics' of her country. ... An excellent chapter at the end offers "What Can President Barack Obama Do?", an organized list of solid recommendations. It includes:
2. Stop humiliating Afghan men and desecrating their homes, a practice many say recruits militants.
The list also acknowledges the problem of humanitarian aid trickling down slowly and meagerly:
4. Start helping Afghans in a way they can understand, see, and appreciate.
Empowering women in Afghanistan to work and educate themselves is a key component of this proposal. Sima Wali describes a 'vast majority of willing Afghans who are capable of ushering in democratic change.' Mr. President, are you listening?" Lisa Savage, PINKtank
"In their recent book, Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, two US journalists with a long involvement there, trace how it has re-emerged after being parked with a compliant Pakistani regime during the Iraq war. . . Speaking at meetings throughout the US, Fitzgerald and Gould report a bewilderment about why the extra troops are being sent there now. They believe the Obama administration is buying time to save face, redefine its commitment and reorganise its priorities." Irish Times
"In Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould outline striking historical accounts of an ancient nation, its borders shaped through colonial wars and conflicts between empires. Their style is reflective yet factual, delving into Afghanistan's key role in central conflicts that have defined global politics in the past century, from the Cold War to the 'war on terror.'" - Stefan Christoff, The Hour
"Fitzgerald and Gould (journalists who have been reporting on Afghanistan and US policy towards Afghanistan since 1981) narrate the political history of Afghanistan and provide a critical analysis of US policy towards Afghanistan. They reveal the manipulations of Afghanistan by the United States and other great powers from the 'Great Game' of the 19th century through the current 'War on Terror' and describe its terrible consequences for the Afghan people." Book News
"To understand Afghanistan's tragic circumstances, this well-documented book by journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould is essential reading. . . . The authors urge US leaders to learn from the Soviet experience and adjust their policies to help the Afghan people regain their independence, especially from foreign-supported extremism, before it is too late. Engaging reportage." Nexus Magazine
"Invisible History provides a wealth of often generally-unknown details about the tribal and ethnic alliances that created current divisions and government instability." — Paul J. Nyden, Sunday Gazette Mail
“The history told within these covers is the story of an ancient nation whose intention in the past century or so has included the creation of a free and tolerant society. . . . It is the authors’ contention that this struggle erupted into a civil war when the US began arming warlords and reactionary religious forces in its war against the Soviets. . . . This book puts the responsibility for Afghanistan’s desperate situation directly in the laps of US policymakers . . . It also asks whether or not this was the intention of those policymakers all along.” — Ron Jacobs, Dissident Voice
Book News Annotation:
Fitzgerald and Gould (journalists who have been reporting on Afghanistan and US policy towards Afghanistan since 1981) narrate the political history of Afghanistan and provide a critical analysis of US policy towards Afghanistan. They reveal the manipulations of Afghanistan by the United States and other great powers from the "Great Game" of the 19th century through the current "War on Terror" and describe its terrible consequences for the Afghan people. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A fresh and comprehensive analysis of Afghanistan's political history emphasizing the impact of US interventions
Cultural Writing. Political Science. Current Events. Introduction by Noam Chomsky. Despite official declarations, the war in Afghanistan is far from over; in fact, it's escalating. Seven years after 9/11, the Taliban continue to regroup, attack, and claim influence over most of the region. This book presents a fresh, comprehensive analysis of Afghanistan's political history that begins at the roots of tribal leadership and ultimately emphasizes our present political moment and the impact of ongoing US military intervention.
About the Author
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began their experience in Afghanistan when they were the first American journalists to acquire permission to enter behind Soviet lines in 1981 for CBS News and produced a documentary, Afghanistan Between Three Worlds, for PBS. In 1983 they returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation project director Roger Fisher for ABC Nightline and contributed to the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. They have continued to research, write and lecture about the long-term run-up that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan.
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History and Social Science » Asia » Afghanistan