Afghan Napoleon

The Life of Ahmad Shah Massoud

Sandy Gall

Afghan Napoleon

Sandy Gall

Distributed for Haus Publishing

With a Foreword by Rory Stewart
368 pages | 25 color plates, 2 maps | 6 x 9
Cloth $34.95 ISBN: 9781913368227 Will Publish September 2021 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe
The first biography in a decade of Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the forces of resistance were disparate. Many groups were caught up in fighting each other and competing for Western arms. The exception were those commanded by Ahmad Shah Massoud, the military strategist and political operator who solidified the resistance and undermined the Russian occupation, leading resistance members to a series of defensive victories.
 
Sandy Gall followed Massoud during Soviet incursions and reported on the war in Afghanistan, and he draws on this first-hand experience in his biography of this charismatic guerrilla commander. Afghan Napoleon includes excerpts from the surviving volumes of Massoud’s prolific diaries—many translated into English for the first time—which detail crucial moments in his personal life and during his time in the resistance. Born into a liberalizing Afghanistan in the 1960s, Massoud ardently opposed communism, and he rose to prominence by coordinating the defense of the Panjsher Valley against Soviet offensives. Despite being under-equipped and outnumbered, he orchestrated a series of victories over the Russians. Massoud’s assassination in 2001, just two days before the attack on the Twin Towers, is believed to have been ordered by Osama bin Laden. Despite the ultimate frustration of Massoud’s attempts to build political consensus, he is recognized today as a national hero.
Review Quotes
Tamim Ansary, author of The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection
"Afghan Napoleon offers an overdue portrait of one of the most remarkable figures of the twentieth century. Napoleon tried to conquer the world; Massoud by contrast fought the world-scale Soviet empire to a stand still on behalf of his people from a tiny valley in Afghanistan.  In this book we see, not just the daily nuts and bolts of his military genius but catch glimpses of the social graces and the warmth that made this man so beloved among his followers."
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British Ambassador to Afghanistan, and British Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
“The unputdownable story of an authentic Afghan hero by one of the greatest chroniclers of modern Afghanistan’s travails, and occasional triumphs.”
Jeremy Bowen
"I can think of no one better than the legendary foreign correspondent Sandy Gall to tell the compelling story of Ahmad Shah Massoud’s extraordinary life and death. . . . Gall weaves analysis, first-hand reporting and primary sources into a brilliant and important book."
Peter Bergen, author of The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden
"Ahmad Shah Massoud was one of the greatest military commanders of the 20th century and was instrumental in forcing the Soviets to retreat from Afghanistan in 1989. Yet, he is now barely known in the West. That will surely change as a result of Gall’s authoritative, beautifully written and deeply reported biography of Massoud."
Hew Strachan
"This is a remarkable book, both a coruscating memoir by Gall and a revealing insight into a guerrilla leader—one whose reputation ranks with the icons of revolutionary insurgency and whose thinking is here revealed in his own words."
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