Kim | by Rudyard Kipling
The classic picaresque story of an orphaned Irish ragamuffin who grows up and survives on India’s streets by blend-ing in like a local during the 19th-century British Raj. Kipling’s descriptions of the people and places along the way can’t be matched.
The Road to Oxiana | by Robert Byron
Byron, arguably the first great travel writer, went on a 10-month journey in the 1930s across Persia and Afghani-stan. His opinionated descriptions of people, places, and monuments, and his historical digressions, make the past come alive.
Descent Into Chaos | by Ahmed Rashid
No one knows the unstable region and the largely unsavory players better than this Pakistani journalist and au-thor. Rashid’s classic on the Taliban ended before 9/11. In Descent Into Chaos he takes us through most of the next decade, showing how the various jihadis, warlords, diplomats, politicians, and soldiers have failed the re-gion, turning it into the bloody, disorderly, dangerous mess it is today.
In the Graveyard of Empires | by Seth G. Jones
Jones gives us a lesson in Afghan history, showing how the mujahedin stymied the Soviets much as the Taliban has reemerged from havens in Pakistan to thwart the U.S. Tribal and factional Afghanistan is a tough nut that’s never been cracked by naive outside powers.
The Afghan Campaign | by Steven Pressfield
A gripping fictional tale of Alexander the Great’s Asian conquests from Iran through Afghanistan as told by a young, newly recruited infantryman. At first eager, optimistic, and thirsty for plunder, he quickly learns of the savagery of warfare—and we learn of an ancient campaign that bears a chilling resemblance to the Afghan war of today.