Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89

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Oxford University Press, Sep 11, 2013 - History - 417 pages
The story of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is well known: the expansionist Communists overwhelmed a poor country as a means of reaching a warm-water port on the Persian Gulf. Afghan mujahideen upset their plans, holding on with little more than natural fighting skills, until CIA agentscame to the rescue with American arms. Humiliated in battle, the Soviets hastily retreated. It's a great story, writes Rodric Braithwaite. But it never happened. The Russian conscripts suffered badly from mismanagement and strategic errors, but they were never defeated on the battlefield, and withdrew in good order. In this brilliant, myth-busting account, Braithwaite - the former Britishambassador to Moscow - challenges much of what we know about the Soviets in Afghanistan. He provides an inside look at this little-understood episode, using first-hand accounts and piercing analysis to show the war as it was fought and experienced by the Russians. The invasion, he writes, was a defensive response to a chaotic situation in the Soviets' immediate neighbor. They intended to establish a stable, friendly government, secure the major towns, and train the police and armed forces before making a rapid exit. But the mission escalated, as didcasualties. In fact, the Soviet leadership decided to pull out a year before the first Stinger missile was used in combat. Braithwaite does not, of course, paint the occupation as a Russian triumph. To the contrary, he illustrates the searing effect of the brutal conflict on soldiers, theirfamilies, and the broader public, as returning veterans - the Afgansty of the title - struggled to regain their footing back home. A fine writer as well as an expert, Braithwaite carries readers through these complex and momentous events, capturing those violent and tragic days as no one has done before.
 

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User Review  - drmaf - LibraryThing

Long overdue English language account of a war the West profoundly misunderstood, and a wonderful read to boot. The author presents a scrupulously fair description of the Soviet Union's bloody and ... Read full review

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User Review  - oparaxenos - LibraryThing

This was a balanced and sympathetic account of the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan. The author draws many parallels with the much larger American involvement in Vietnam, with one important ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
3
The Road to Kabul
9
The Disasters of War
119
The Long Goodbye
247
Annexes
337
Notes
348
Sources
382
Bibliography
385
Acknowledgments
392
List of Illustrations
394
Index
396
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About the author (2013)


Rodric Braithwaite was British ambassador in Moscow from 1988 to 1992, and is now chairman of the International Advisory Council of the Moscow School of Political Studies. He is the author of Moscow 1941 and Across the Moscow River.

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