The First Anglo-Afghan Wars: A Reader
Antoinette Burton is Professor of History and Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has written and edited many books, including A Primer for Teaching World History: Ten Design Principles; Empire in Question: Reading, Writing, and Teaching British Imperialism; Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History; and After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation, all published by Duke University Press.
Designed for classroom use, The First Anglo-Afghan Wars gathers in one volume primary source materials related to the first two wars that Great Britain launched against native leaders of the Afghan region. From 1839 to 1842, and again from 1878 to 1880, Britain fought to expand its empire and prevent Russian expansion into the region's northwest frontier, which was considered the gateway to India, the jewel in Victorian Britain's imperial crown. Spanning from 1817 to 1919, the selections reflect the complex national, international, and anticolonial interests entangled in Central Asia at the time. The documents, each of which is preceded by a brief introduction, bring the nineteenth-century wars alive through the opinions of those who participated in or lived through the conflicts. They portray the struggle for control of the region from the perspectives of women and non-Westerners, as well as well-known figures including Kipling and Churchill. Filled with military and civilian voices, the collection clearly demonstrates the challenges that Central Asia posed to powers attempting to secure and claim the region. It is a cautionary tale, unheeded by Western powers in the post–9/11 era.
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