Midway through this interesting book on Afghanistan I have found that it is written perhaps more from the perspective of a contemporary affairs political writer than that of an historian. With about 400 pages of informative prose it takes about as much time to get through as an ordinary popular book on cosmology yet its worth the effort. Most Americans haven't got anything like this level of detail on the structure of jihadist politics in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Isby's book oddly has the same title as this article in foreign affairs in Nov/Dec. 2001 by the former C.I.A. station Chief in Pqakistan from 1986-1989.
http://www.amazon.com/Afghanistan-Graveyard-Empires-History-Borderland/dp/160598082X Isby's book at Amazon.com
One discovers a working level of history as it pertains to the recent conflicts and perennial chaos organized for the profit of a military industrial complex of terrorists and criminals as well as in support of Pakistan's regional interests for defense and influence. We find that the Taliban really did execute a 16 year old for participating in a government work-for-food program, and become skeptical that the federal effort to control everything could be wrapped up in a decade or two.
The Afghanistan political troubles of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries were thought of as 'The Great Game' because of the challenging competition by foreign governments to control the area or influence it for its tactical value regarding location. Unfortunately today's blimp college graduates in D.C. given real work in government agencies will tend to feel the same way and waste taxpayer money instead of wrapping up the financial drain that damages the well-being of us homeless Americans.
I have yet to complete reading this book though,and may find answers to my own skepticism regarding the intelligence or lack of it in Washington D.C. It is important not to harm U.S. interests when defending them. Waging a war along an experimental counter-insurgency and formation of a stable nation basis perhaps with global corporatist reasoning is bound to be bad for the bottom line for most Americans.
It is disappointing that style in military conflict should ever become an issue for ordinary civilians generally unhappy with war at all. The failure of D.C. politicians to pursue a nationalist policy instead of a globalist policy means that political warping like gravitational lensing of light of distant galaxies reaching Earth needs some correction like the Hubble Space Telescope mirrors-that economic and foreign policy has yet to have the correction required for the continuity of the well being of the U.S.A.