The Wars of Afghanistan
The Wars of Afghanistan is an epic account by one of the world’s leading experts about one of the longest-running wars in modern history and a masterpiece of scholarship on the forces that have shaped modern-day Afghanistan.

Peter Tomsen, who reached the rank of ambassador in the U.S. State Department, was George H.W. Bush’s special envoy to the Mujahidin in Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992. He served in senior positions in Moscow and Beijing in critical periods and is an acknowledged authority on Afghanistan. In this magisterial book, he draws on his close relationships with Afghan commanders, mullahs, and politicians, his negotiations with Pakistani generals and spies, Soviet diplomats, and Saudi princes—and a rich trove of previously unpublished source material including recently declassified documents—to offer unprecedented insight into the horrible chain of wars that have torn Afghanistan apart since 1978. He also offers a deeply informed perspective on how Afghanistan’s unique tribal society and its long history as a “shatter zone” for foreign invaders have shaped the modern Afghan narrative.

Tomsen chronicles the lessons learned, but always forgotten, by every great power that has disastrously invaded Afghanistan. He brings to life the appallingly misinformed, occasionally farcical secret operations by foreign intelligence agencies, including the Nazi Abwehr, the Soviet KGB, the Pakistani ISI, and the American CIA. And he tells the disappointing story of Washington’s serial blunders in Afghanistan since the Soviet army’s withdrawal in 1989, including the legacy of America’s naïve dependence on Pakistan’s army to resolve the Afghan conflict, and clarifying how American policy toward both countries facilitated the growth of Islamist extremism and its offshoot, global terrorism. 

In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death, Tomsen proposes a path out of the Afghan quagmire and toward peace and stability in the region. His recommendations meet the aspirations of Afghans, America, and the coalition it leads, as well as the many nations and peoples who have a direct stake in ending this destructive conflict. For anyone seeking to understand this long-misunderstood country, or the complex history of United States involvement there, The Wars of Afghanistan is indispensable reading.

Praise for The Wars of Afghanistan


“The authenticity of Tomsen’s Afghanistan experiences, knowledge, and analysis is the foundation of a superbly well-written and documented presentation of an astoundingly complicated part of the world. He brings remarkable clarity to a very complex story. Tomsen’s book is the most current, informed, and complete Afghanistan publication in the market today...and maybe ever. It is not an exaggeration to say that he has created a masterpiece. It’s that good.” —Chuck Hagel, distinguished professor, Georgetown University, and former U.S. senator (1997–2009)

The Wars of Afghanistan is a richly detailed account that places current U.S. interests in Afghanistan in the historical, political, and cultural context of this troubled land. Peter Tomsen’s compelling analysis of Afghan leaders and tribal politics makes this book invaluable to the policy maker. His wise and carefully considered policy blueprint—basically, America will still help and America is withdrawing—serves American interests and uplifts Afghanistan.” —Lee H. Hamilton, former congressman and co-chair of the 9/11 Commission

“Peter Tomsen has a depth of understanding and knowledge about the history of Afghanistan that makes him a unique asset in our effort to grapple with the multiple conflicts and intricate politics in what has turned out to be America’s longest war.” —Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars and president, New America Foundation

“Accolades like ‘magisterial,’ ‘definitive,’ and ‘vital’ should be reserved for rare books like Peter Tomsen’s The Wars of Afghanistan. Few Americans are as knowledgeable about that tormented land’s past; none have been more savvy or prescient about its unrolling future. Tomsen’s compelling narrative draws upon meticulous scholarship and virgin archives, personal frontline engagement and close ties with major players. This multilayered volume melds sweeping history, cultural painting, political analysis, governmental battles, dramatic action, and provocative prescriptions. The Wars of Afghanistan is bound to have urgent impact and enduring resonance.” —Winston Lord, former U.S. ambassador to China and former president of the Council on Foreign Relations

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