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Extended Audio Sample In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan, by Seth G. Jones Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (302 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Seth G. Jones Narrator: William Hughes Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This definitive account of the American experience in Afghanistan is a political history of Afghanistan in the “Age of Terror” from 2001 to 2009, exploring the fundamental tragedy of America’s longest war since Vietnam. After the swift defeat of the Taliban in 2001, American optimism has steadily evaporated in the face of mounting violence; a new “war of a thousand cuts” has brought the country to its knees. 

After a brief survey of the great empires in Afghanistan, Seth G. Jones examines the central question of our own war: how did an insurgency develop? Following September 11, the United States successfully overthrew the Taliban regime. It established security throughout the country, and Afghanistan finally began to emerge from more than two decades of conflict. But Jones argues that, as early as 2001, planning for the Iraq War siphoned off resources and talented personnel, undermining the gains that had been made. After eight years, the United States had pushed al-Qaeda’s headquarters about one hundred miles across the border into Pakistan.

While observing the tense, often adversarial relationship between NATO allies in the Coalition, Jones introduces us to key figures on both sides of the war. Using important new research and integrating thousands of declassified government documents, Jones analyzes the insurgency from a historical and structural point of view, showing how a rising drug trade, poor security forces, and pervasive corruption undermined the Karzai government, while Americans abandoned a successful strategy, failed to provide the necessary support, and allowed a growing sanctuary for insurgents in Pakistan to catalyze the Taliban resurgence. 

Examining what has worked thus far—and what has not—this serious and important book underscores the challenges we face in stabilizing the country and explains where we went wrong and what we must do to avoid the disastrous fate that has befallen many of the great world powers to enter the region.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Jones] zero[es] in on what went awry after America’s successful routing of the Taliban in late 2001. His narrative is fleshed out with information from declassified government documents and interviews with military officers, diplomats, and national security experts familiar with events on the ground in Afghanistan.”

    New York Times

  • “Seth Jones has the answer to the million-dollar question…Until Seth Jones, nobody actually sought an empirical answer. Nobody crunched the numbers.”


  • “Gauging whether the US and its allies can succeed in Afghanistan is only part of what Jones’ excellent book is about.”

    Financial Times

  • “A useful and generally lively account of what can go wrong when outsiders venture onto the Afghan landscape. Those ventures have generally not turned out well…This is ominous, because [Jones] knows too much about recent interventions for his pessimism to be disregarded.”

    Foreign Affairs

  • “Political scientist Jones’ groundbreaking, detailed account of American involvement in Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion of 1979 through 2009 is finally available on audio. Drawing from declassified documents and interviews with military, political, and national security experts, Jones holds that the United States followed the same failed path taken in Afghanistan by both Britain and the former Soviet Union. The chapter outlining the theoretical basis for insurgency is particularly enlightening. Voice-over artist William Hughes does an excellent job of presenting this important work, a definitive account of perhaps the most questionable American military and foreign policy exercise since Vietnam. Essential listening for all.”

    Library Journal (starred audio review)

  • Recipient of the 2010 Arthur Ross Book Award Silver Medal

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Marie Gase | 2/18/2014

    " This is a very detailed book. I read it to get a better understanding of what happened previously in Afghanistan so I could better understand what we are doing there today. It was very good for this purpose. I didn't need all the exacting detail so I did skim portions of the book. I do feel that I have a much better understanding of Taliban, al Qaida, why they are so pissed and what we are doing there and why it is so hard. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of what has got us to this point. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Josh | 1/25/2014

    " Good read with lots of good information. I only gave it three stars instead of four because I had read some of the information contained already in some other books on Afghanistan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Paul D. Miller | 1/24/2014

    " The best history of post-9/11 Afghanistan and the U.S.-led war there. The afterword is an excellent synopsis of why the war matters and how to finish the job. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Noah | 1/10/2014

    " Decent history of our muddled engagement in Afghanistan over the past 10 yrs, worth a read for a good surface-level history... "

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