Among Britain's imperial wars, the campaigns in Afghanistan present some of the most vivid contrasts—of heroism and sacrifice, incompetence and folly, disastrous defeat and glorious victory. When the British invaded Afghanistan in 1878, 40 years after the first attempt, it was to scotch Russian influence and to install a friendly government—an early example of regime change. Precisely why it was fought, why it was necessary, who was responsible, and what it achieved are among the basic questions explored in this definitive account. The disaster at Maiwand, the near-disaster at Ahmed Khel, the arrival of that grim figure, Abdurrahman, and the unsavory business of the mass hangings at Kabul are carefully examined, using the original documents and contemporary diaries and accounts. In his research, Brian Robson found Sir Frederick Robert's copy of the suppressed official history, the only complete copy so far located. Disraeli, "Chinese" Gordon, Lytton, and Salisbury all appear. The military and political undertones of the fighting against the fiercely independent Pathan tribes still resonate today.
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The Indian Army, Oxford and a distinguished career in the Ministry of Defence form the background to Brian Robson's reputation as the leading historian of the Indian Army. Vice President of the society for Army Historical research and a founding member of the Imperial War Museum and National Army Museum. He is the author of numerous military history titles, including Crisis on the Frontier, also published by Spellmount.
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