Next Sunday, our review will be of 'Tommy this an' Tommy that' by Andrew Murrison, an exploration of the case for the military covenant. As we approach the tenth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 next month, and consequently the beginning of the War on Terror and conflict in Afghanistan, let us consider the best books for understanding the conflict which, along with the conflict in Iraq, has come to define the military in the past decade.
Perhaps the most high-profile Afghanistan-focused memoir to date, Sherard Cowper-Coles, Britain's Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2007-10, arrived on the scene after his retirement last year. In many respects, this was the most important time for the mission in Afghanistan since the initial invasion itself; the withdrawal from Iraq shifted focus onto the Afghan mission whilst the NATO forces failed to achieve a lasting peace there. John Simpson said this book is ‘The clearest, best informed, and most honest account yet of why and how Britain was drawn deeper and deeper into the Afghan war' - broadly speaking, I trust him on these matters. Purchase here.
Peter Tomsen is another former ambassador to Afghanistan, this time from the United States. However, Tomsen was Ambassador at the end of the conflict in Afghanistan involving the declining USSR, a conflict which eventually ended in withdrawal for the second-placed superpower. This book brings together that conflict along with the most recent escapade in Afghanistan in the most holistic analysis of the attempts to conquer the Afghan people and their terrain I've read yet. A fascinating read for an essential insight. Purchase here.
And finally... Ross Kemp on Afghanistan. Just kidding - don't buy it.