Few people are more respected or better positioned to speak on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan than M. Hassan Kakar. A professor at Kabul University and scholar of Afghanistan affairs at the time of the 1978 coup d'état, Kakar vividly describes the events surrounding the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the encounter between the military superpower and the poorly armed Afghans. The events that followed are carefully detailed, with eyewitness accounts and authoritative documentation that provide an unparalleled view of this historical moment.
Because of his prominence Kakar was at first treated with deference by the Marxist government and was not imprisoned, although he openly criticized the regime. When he was put behind bars the outcry from scholars all over the world possibly saved his life. In prison for five years, he continued collecting information, much of it from prominent Afghans of varying political persuasions who were themselves prisoners.
Kakar brings firsthand knowledge and a historian's sensibility to his account of the invasion and its aftermath. This is both a personal document and a historical one—Kakar lived through the events he describes, and his concern for human rights rather than party politics infuses his writing. As Afghans and the rest of the world try to make sense of Afghanistan's recent past, Kakar's voice will be one of those most listened to.
M. Hassan Kakar was born in Laghman, Afghanistan, and now lives in San Diego. He has published several works of history and translated books of fiction and nonfiction from English into his native Pashto and Deri.
"The times Kakar writes about have . . . pervasively influenced every life in Afghanistan. . . . He was continuously faced with different versions of the Afghan experience as his country went through one of the great cataclysms of its history. We are fortunate to have his account."—Robert Canfield, editor of Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective
"This is the first history of recent events in Afghanistan by a native historian trained in London. Kakar writes objectively about the Soviets, the Afghan government, and the Mujahideen. With personal observations, including years spent in Kabul's notorious Pul-i Charkhi prison, this book is unique in revealing many events hitherto not known or recorded. It will remain a standard work on . . . contemporary Afghanistan."—Richard N. Frye, Harvard University
"Kakar, one of Afghanistan's most distinguished scholars, has provided an outstanding account of a complex and interesting phase of modern Afghanistan history. . . . A fascinating and absorbing analysis . . . exhaustive and most valuable."—Vartan Gregorian, President, Brown University