‘Afgantsy’ by Rodric Braithwaite

I’ve just reviewed this book for Europe-Asia Studies and so eventually my lengthier thoughts will see the light of day, but in the interim I just wanted to note how good this new study of the Soviet war on Afghanistan turns out to be. In essence, it doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said elsewhere, albeit often in Russian-language treatments of the war, but it brings everything together in a judicious, comprehensive and wonderfully-readable way that in my opinion make it the best overall history of the war (from the Soviet side) to date. Title notwithstanding, it doesn’t focus specifically on the actual afgantsy, the veterans (though where it does, I was personally pleased to see it drawing on my Afghanistan: the Soviet Union’s last war), but it is nonetheless full of fascinating personal experiences and anecdotes, many recounted personally to the author. A first-rate history.

Rodric Braithwaite, Afgantsy: the Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-89. London: Profile Books, 2011 and New York: OUP (USA), xiv + 418pp.

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