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An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, 1978-2012 (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Juli 2014


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"An Intimate War is, quite simply, the book on Helmand. I sincerely wish it had been available to me when I was ISAF Commander in Afghanistan. Military, diplomatic and development professionals involved in Afghanistan and elsewhere, for that matter read this and take note." -- General Sir David Richards GCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen; Commander of International Forces in Afghanistan, 2006-7 and UK Chief of the Defence Staff, 2010-13


"The proverbial complexity of civil wars is typically discounted as irrelevant or misinterpreted through orientalising. Mike Martin begs to differ: in this rich and fascinating account of thirty-four years of war in the Afghan province of Helmand, he explains how and why the private and local logics of the conflict interact with, and often subvert, the public, national, and international narratives. He exposes the failure of Western bureaucratic institutions to grasp this reality and dissects both the causes and consequences of theircfailure. This outstanding book is a must-read for those interested in understanding contemporary conflict." -- Stathis Kalyvas, Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science, Yale University, and author of The Logic of Violence in Civil War


"Essential reading for any serious student of Britain's Fourth Afghan War. A deeply researched, clearly argued reminder of how the West's road to Helmand was paved with good intentions, and that there, as elsewhere in Afghanistan, the West failed to understand the war it was fighting, causing them to coerce rather than to co-opt." -- Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles KCMG LVO, UK Ambassador to Afghanistan 2007-9 and UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan 2009-10.


"Mike Martin's book is by far the most detailed account of Helmand province to date, giving us both historical background and a chronicle of Helmandi politics in the post-2001 setup. The in-depth analysis of the local political dynamics provided by Martin makes this book a must-read for anybody trying to understand the post-2006 British and American interventions in Helmand." -- Antonio Giustozzi, Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies at King's College London and author of Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan and Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field


'A new internal war in South Sudan, now in its fifth month, has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. These unfolding events are deftly forecast by James Copnall in his new book A Poisonous Thorn in Our Hearts. ... Copnall gives a clear-headed and compassionate account of events leading up to and after the creation of South Sudan a year earlier, and what it means for what remains of Sudan. ...Measured and understated.' -- The Economist


'Martin's meticulous study, based on 150 interviews conducted over four years, and his own experience as a serving officer in Helmand, presents a view of the war that is radically different from the one the British public has been hearing ever since Tony Blair ordered British troops to deploy in Helmand in 2006. The picture that he paints is often jaw-dropping.' -- Matt Carr, Stopthewar.org


"Among the best books on the Afghan crisis I have come across... immensely detailed." -- Robert Fox, Defence Editor of the Evening Standard, The World Today


"This work lays the foundation for much future research, including similarly in-depth looks at the histories of, and counterinsurgencies in, other provinces in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also highlights the need for study into why institutions and militaries adopt mistaken initial premises, and more importantly why groups and individuals retain these flawed conceptions even as it becomes clear that they are failing to achieve their goals. Above all, Martin demonstrates the futility of trying to understand intrastate conflict, much less intervene in such conflicts, without grasping the implications of the local history, culture, politics and social dynamics." -- Jessica Jensen, Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, 2014


"...an extraordinary book ... An Intimate War is the work of a wise and patient scholar." -- James Meek, London Review of Books


"It is impossible to do full justice in this review to the range and depth of Martin's research, arguments, or account of the Helmand conflict." -- Asian Affairs


Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende


Mike Martin is a Pashto speaker who spent almost two years in Helmand as a British army officer. During that time, he pioneered and developed the British military's human terrain and cultural capability - a means to understanding the Helmandi population and influence it. He also worked as an advisor to several senior commanding officers in Helmand. His previous publications include A Brief History of Helmand, required reading for British commanders and intelligence staff deploying to the province. He holds a doctorate in War Studies from King's College London.


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Amazon.com: 3 Rezensionen
Do NOT miss this book 1. Januar 2015
Von davidbfpo - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
From an armchair perspective this is simply THE book to read and discover what Helmandis thought of the ISAF visit to their land. A second read is probably needed. Short of time? Read the introduction and the conclusion.

This is not a book about combat in Helmand Province, though fighting does appear, before 9/11 and after US / UK / ISAF appeared. Using numerous face-to-face interviews with Helmandis the author creates a narrative to explain what is both a simple tribal society and a complex operating environment. Minus the conflict, notably since the UK's arrival in 2006, some powerful Helmandis have made a fortune and the main US$ earner, opium poppy production has increased.

The official legend that ISAF was fighting an insurgency for Afghanistans as represented by their government was not the reality Helmandis experienced. A fact that seemingly few in ISAF noticed, let alone accomodated in their actions.

It is fascinating to read and learn that to Helmandis the terms 'government' and 'police' for two notable examples do not mean what we think they mean. Those two are privately-run enterprises to make US$ from enabling commerce - by 'protecting' road traffic and the drugs trade.

That the Helmandis thought the British were allied with the Taliban took me by surprise. It seemed so illogical and was based on their long held hostility to the British, who in the First and Second Afghan Wars had invaded their homeland (not then called Helmand Province). They thought the British were there for revenge, partly confirmed by their repeating the Soviet approach to COIN and the presence of Soviet-era veterans in the small Estonian contingent (serving along the British).

Within this confused, barely understood situation - one Helmandi told the author, even with his studying, he only knew 1% of what was happening on the ground - ISAF had various approaches. The use of SOF is criticised, partly as their targeting was based on rivals accussing them of being 'Taliban'.

This book is similar to Carter Malkasian's book and if read together would give anyone a guide to what intervention in Afghanistan really faced.

As the author is British and it was originally published in the UK there are many more reviews on Amazon UK website.
Read it and Learn 11. September 2014
Von Writing Historian - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
BLUF: Doesn’t discuss British or American tactical operations in detail; contains a useful in-depth discussion of the Taliban, Afghan society and social forces in Helmand from informed western perspective.

Strongest feature of the book: The author often takes a position contrary to what you might believe about the conflict.

Martin, a Pashto speaker who spent almost two years in Helmand as both a serving officer and War Studies PhD candidate at King’s College, conducted numerous interviews with Afghans. Although the title specifically refers to this publication as “An Oral History” – it is not. Rather, it is a well-written narrative account of events that seamlessly blends oral testimony along with official documents and the author’s own experiences.

His basic premise is that US Special Operations, the British, and US conventional forces misread the conflict in Helmand province. Westerners saw it as a "Taliban versus the Populace/Karzai government" when in reality it was a civil war among competing factions that had been ongoing for several decades. The Helmandis, who quickly realized that the Americans and British did not understand the internal dynamics of the province, used the US and UK military to pursue and further their own agendas.

Organization. In addition to an introduction and conclusion, the main body consists of six chapters, all averaging 30 – 35 pages each, covering 1) Pre-1978 Helmandi History, 2) From the Saur Revolution to the Soviet Withdrawal ,1978 – 89, 3) From the Soviet Withdrawal to the US Intervention, 4) From the US Intervention of the Return of the Angrez 2001 – 6, 5) From the Return of the Angrez to the US Re-Engagement 2006 – 9, 6) From US Reengagement: ‘Counterinsurgency,’ 2009 – 12. There are also a series of appendices, to include a timeline of key events, list of provincial officials, and one outlining tribal and family trees.

This book is worth the time you will spend reading it. It effectively conveys the message that "there is no black and white in war, only various shades of grey." Highly recommended.

One alibi - I bought the edition sold on Amazon.UK. I dont know if it differs from the books being sold in the US.
Four Stars 1. August 2015
Von Ed Garvey - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Surreal - and at times hard work - but well worth the read.
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