Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan

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by Tamim Ansary
     
 

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By the author of Destiny Disrupted: an enlightening, accessible history of modern Afghanistan from the Afghan point of view, showing how Great Power conflicts have interrupted its ongoing, internal struggle to take form as a nation

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Overview

By the author of Destiny Disrupted: an enlightening, accessible history of modern Afghanistan from the Afghan point of view, showing how Great Power conflicts have interrupted its ongoing, internal struggle to take form as a nation

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Long one of the most disputed territories in the world, Afghanistan holds a strategic geographical position that has placed it in the way of empires for centuries. However, over the past two centuries each time a major world power has attempted to intercede in Afghan affairs they have failed. Ansary (Destiny Disrupted), an Afghan-born US citizen and director of the San Francisco Writers Workshop, offers an illuminating history of the country, providing not only a chronology but a deep cultural analysis that allows outsiders a comprehensive picture of Afghan mores and practices. This insider's perspective fills large gaps in contemporary outsiders' understandings of why these powers have failed and hopefully points the way towards forms of international cooperation that will work for Afghanistan rather than against it. Ansary has a gift for using informal language to illustrate his points in a way that doesn't compromise the legitimacy of his narrative. His ability to contextualize the history and situate it in culture, as well as to remind readers of when to keep track of important figures (sometimes for decades) is refreshing. Ansary has produced an invaluable resource to those curious about this tumultuous region. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan
“In Games Without Rules, Tamim Ansary has written the most engaging, accessible and insightful history of Afghanistan. With gifted prose and revealing details, Ansary gives us the oft-neglected Afghan perspective of the wars, foreign meddling and palace intrigue that has defined the past few centuries between the Indus and Oxus. This brilliant book should be required reading for anyone involved in the current war there -- and anyone who wants to understand why Afghanistan will not be at peace anytime soon."

Kirkus
“A breezy, accessible overview of centuries of messy Afghan history, including the present military quagmire…. As a native of Kabul, Ansary lends precious insight into the makeup of the typical Afghan village, with its tidy, self-sufficient, patriarchal hierarchy and need to keep the nomads at bay… Lively instruction on how Afghanistan has coped, and continues to cope, with being a strategic flash point.”

Christian Science Monitor
“Games without Rules" explains longstanding problems and internal difficulties encountered in efforts toward nation-building in Afghanistan and shows how great power politics (and invasion) have been stalling the process for the past two centuries.”

San Jose Mercury News
"Despite extensive reporting on the war in Afghanistan, San Francisco journalist and author Ansary thinks there's still a great deal of misunderstanding about the reasons for the conflict. In this history, he focuses on key developments that shaped current events."

Booklist
“Ansary tells the history of modern Afghanistan with a master storyteller’s confidence…this is a nuanced, sophisticated historical narrative that strives to tell Afghan history from an Afghan perspective…The author’s love for his native land and his optimism for its future shine through.”

Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“Ansary, an Afghan-born US citizen… offers an illuminating history of the country, providing not only a chronology but a deep cultural analysis that allows outsiders a comprehensive picture of Afghan mores and practices. This insider's perspective fills large gaps in contemporary outsiders' understandings of why these powers have failed and hopefully points the way towards forms of international cooperation that will work for Afghanistan rather than against it. Ansary has a gift for using informal language to illustrate his points in a way that doesn't compromise the legitimacy of his narrative. His ability to contextualize the history and situate it in culture, as well as to remind readers of when to keep track of important figures (sometimes for decades) is refreshing. Ansary has produced an invaluable resource to those curious about this tumultuous region.”

Geographical Magazine“As an Afghan-American, Tamim Ansary is well placed to present the Western reader with a penetrating view of his complex and often baffling native land. With the 2014 draw-down of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan approaching a better-late-than-never understanding of how the country works and its history is crucial if we’re to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

New Statesman
“(Ansary’s) is an authentically Afghan voice, offering not an authoritative account of the ebb and flow of foreign entanglement in Afghanistan but a personal account of how an intelligent Afghan observer sees the course of events from the outside.”

Irish Times

“Ansary has that rare gift of being able to blend an academic’s knowledge with the skill of a natural storyteller. He if Afghanistan-born, and although he left when he was just 16, in 1964, he has clearly spent a lifetime collecting stories, which he has edited masterfully, knowing exactly when to move away from the major events and focus on the tiny details that give you a sense of what life must have been like for the country’s many poor villagers, who often had no idea what was happening in their capital city. Refreshingly he keeps his focus on Afghans, with the foreigners appearing for brief periods, usually offering little and understanding less. I was gripped as I read the first 200 pages of GAMES WITHOUT RULES… The author brilliantly describes the personalities of these men and the conflict, conceit or foreign intervention that brought them to power.”

Kirkus Reviews
A breezy, accessible overview of centuries of messy Afghan history, including the present military quagmire. Ansary has previously written history from "Islamic eyes" (Destiny Destroyed, 2009, etc.); here, he casts the perplexing trajectory of Afghanistan as a kind of chaotic but nonetheless functioning scrimmage interrupted periodically by foreign invaders bent on their own "great game." First united under the neo-Persian young leader Ahmad Shah, the various Pushtoon tribes first grew into a national awareness of "Afghanistan" by the mid 18th century. All the while, they remained wary of the Europeans, specifically the British and the Russians. Repeated invasions helped coalesce the Afghan state, firm up its borders and establish the capital at Kabul, as well as helping "unleash the unruly energy of Afghan tribal society." As a native of Kabul, Ansary lends precious insight into the makeup of the typical Afghan village, with its tidy, self-sufficient, patriarchal hierarchy and need to keep the nomads at bay. The loss of Peshawar, institutionalized in the arbitrary Durand line drawn up by the eponymous British diplomat in 1893, continued to be a thorn in the Afghanis' side until the present. The modernizing period ushered in by Amir Amanullah in the 1920s sidestepped Shariah and fostered a brief period of reform, followed by 40 years of royal family–run government that was fairly indulgent, even modern and enterprising, thanks to Western cash for development projects such as the Helmand Valley Authority. The Cold War again placed the country in a tug of war, this time between the Soviets and Americans, resulting in one morass after the other--and it's still ongoing, exacerbated by the Taliban, al-Qaida, refugees, drugs, corruption and discoveries of mineral wealth. Lively instruction on how Afghanistan has coped, and continues to cope, with being a strategic flash point.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610390958
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
11/27/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
689,961
File size:
1 MB

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan“In Games Without Rules, Tamim Ansary has written the most engaging, accessible and insightful history of Afghanistan. With gifted prose and revealing details, Ansary gives us the oft-neglected Afghan perspective of the wars, foreign meddling and palace intrigue that has defined the past few centuries between the Indus and Oxus. This brilliant book should be required reading for anyone involved in the current war there — and anyone who wants to understand why Afghanistan will not be at peace anytime soon."

Kirkus
“A breezy, accessible overview of centuries of messy Afghan history, including the present military quagmire…. As a native of Kabul, Ansary lends precious insight into the makeup of the typical Afghan village, with its tidy, self-sufficient, patriarchal hierarchy and need to keep the nomads at bay… Lively instruction on how Afghanistan has coped, and continues to cope, with being a strategic flash point.”

Christian Science Monitor“Games without Rules" explains longstanding problems and internal difficulties encountered in efforts toward nation-building in Afghanistan and shows how great power politics (and invasion) have been stalling the process for the past two centuries.”

San Jose Mercury News"Despite extensive reporting on the war in Afghanistan, San Francisco journalist and author Ansary thinks there's still a great deal of misunderstanding about the reasons for the conflict. In this history, he focuses on key developments that shaped current events."
Booklist
“Ansary tells the history of modern Afghanistan with a master storyteller’s confidence…this is a nuanced, sophisticated historical narrative that strives to tell Afghan history from an Afghan perspective…The author’s love for his native land and his optimism for its future shine through.”

Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“Ansary, an Afghan-born US citizen… offers an illuminating history of the country, providing not only a chronology but a deep cultural analysis that allows outsiders a comprehensive picture of Afghan mores and practices. This insider's perspective fills large gaps in contemporary outsiders' understandings of why these powers have failed and hopefully points the way towards forms of international cooperation that will work for Afghanistan rather than against it. Ansary has a gift for using informal language to illustrate his points in a way that doesn't compromise the legitimacy of his narrative. His ability to contextualize the history and situate it in culture, as well as to remind readers of when to keep track of important figures (sometimes for decades) is refreshing. Ansary has produced an invaluable resource to those curious about this tumultuous region.”

Read More

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