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Afghanistan: The Labyrinth of Violence

Afghanistan: The Labyrinth of Violence

Amalendu Misra

ISBN: 978-0-745-63114-1

May 2004, Polity

232 pages

In Stock



Afghanistan has become synonymous with violence. In the past 25 years alone, the country has endured Russian invasion and occupation, civil war and a US-led military campaign, resulting in the combined loss of over 2 million lives, most of them civilian. Even now, following the overthrow of the Taliban regime, old ethnic animosities have resurfaced which seem likely to push the country into another spell of internal war.

But why is it that Afghanistan has experienced such bloody conflict and slaughter? What factors have allowed the country to be exploited by external powers who have intervened to determine its politics, social structure and, consequently, its place in the world?

In this fascinating new book, Amalendu Misra seeks to provide answers to these pressing questions. By analysing the nature of conflict in Afghanistan, he exposes the various geopolitical, ethnic, economic and religious variables which have contributed to the breakdown of the Afghan state, and ponders whether post-war reconstruction could lead to a more democratic and peaceful Afghanistan.




1 The Curse of Geopolitics.

2 Ethnic rivalry and the death of Afghan State.

3 Return of the Conservative Natives.

4 Brothers in arms: Radical Islam and its followers.

5 11 September and commitment against terrorism.

6 Poppy cultivation and political economy of civil war.

7 Picking up the pieces: reconstructing peace.







"Misra's ability to proffer ethnic explanations for Afghan conflict without losing sight of how wider global problems influence the country provides his work's central strength."

Joseph Tucker, Nations and Nationalism

"Provides the reader, novice and expert alike with a clear guide through the complex maze of Afghanistan's troubled past. Amalendu Misra's work is an excellent starting point for the study of Afghanistan's recent history, which can be a complex and cloudy subject at the best of times.’"

Tom Withington, Kings College, London

  • succinct introduction to conflict in one of the world’s persistent political hot spots;
  • analyses the nature of the conflict in Afghanistan with its ethnic, cultural, political, religious and external dimensions;
  • explores the prospects for a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan and the problems associated with long term peace building in the country.