The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan by Gregory Feifer. Hardcover book published by Harper Collins 2009, 326 pages with some black and white photographs and maps.
“The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a grueling debacle that has striking lessons for the twenty-first century.”
The Soviet “debacle” in Afghanistan was not really that surprising and historically they weren't the first to have a “debacle” in Afghanistan... nor the last. I guess it's that one trophy that everyone wants, everyone except the Afghans. I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog my interest in The Great Game, and it is due to this interest/fascination that I picked out this book from the many. There was also a conversation I recently had with someone (?) about a lack of books on the subject of the “grueling debacle”, at least a lack of books in English. For all I know the Russians have thousands of books and films on the subject in the same way there is a plethora of books and films about the Vietnam War in English.
Many years ago I met someone who had been to Afghanistan during the conflict. After completing a medical degree, he volunteered to help the Mujahideen as a doctor. He had more than interesting stories and to this day, these stories are something that I haven't forgotten... even though I have forgotten his name. His sister did tell me that he was having after effects, the most obvious being an inability to watch fire works. Anecdotally everyone I have ever met who has been to Afghanistan hasn't had a very good experience of it. I've met people who have been stoned (rocks thrown at them) as they have gotten off a bus in the middle of nowhere and others who have been warned to not leave their hotel rooms whilst on a stopover on their way to Europe from Asia. I've never been to Afghanistan and I sort of figure I wont be going there in the near future despite an interest and fascination. I'm sure there are many Russians who wish they had never gone.