Imperial Britain's Afghan Agony

America's effort to shape events in Afghanistan has many historical antecedents. None ended in greater tragedy than Britain's involvement there from 1838–1842. Diana Preston offers a well-researched, well-written account of this sad tale.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2012

Diana Preston, The Dark Defile: Britain’s Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838–1842 (New York: Walker & Company, 2012), 320 pp., $28.00.

FOR MANY foreigners, the history of Afghanistan reads like a morose, Shakespearean tragedy. A litany of armies ventured into the fabled “graveyard of empires,” sometimes well-intentioned, only to face insurmountable challenges and withdraw in humiliating defeat. Without a doubt, the quintessential Afghan tragedy is the First Anglo-Afghan War, the subject of Diana Preston’s book, The Dark Defile: Britain’s Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838–1842.

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