By the author of Destiny Disrupted: An enlightening, lively, accessible, history of Afghanistan from 1840 to today, from the Afghan point of view, that illuminates how Great Power conflicts have interrupted an ongoing, internal struggle to take form as a nation.
Five times in the last two centuries, some great power has tried to invade, occupy, or otherwise take control of Afghanistan. And as Tamim Ansary shows in this illuminating history, every intervention has come to grief in much the same way and for much the same reason: The intervening power has failed to understand that Afghanistan has a story of its own, a story that continues to unfold between, and despite, the interventions.
Games without Rules tells this story from the inside looking out. Drawing on his Afghan background, Muslim roots, and Western and Afghan sources, Ansary weaves an epic that moves from a universe of village republics--the old Afghanistan--through a tumultuous drama of tribes, factions, and forces, to the current struggle.
Ansary paints a richly textured portrait of a nation that began to form around the same time as the United States but is still struggling to coalesce; a nation driven by its high ambitions but undermined by its own demons, while every forty to sixty years a great power crashes in and disrupts whatever progress has been made. A compelling narrative told in an accessible, conversational style, Games without Rules offers revelatory insight into a country long at the center of international debate, but never fully understood by the outside world.
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.