Taliban, the History of Afghanistan and its People, Silent Heroes Book Extract

Taliban, the history of Afghanistan and its people, read a book extract from my novel Silent Heroes, FREE to download from Amazon on the 19th and 20th of August, today and tomorrow.

Silent Heroes extract:

‘Maybe this story will help us better understand what the Afghan people went through.

‘Alexander the Great, the Muslim Arabs in the 12th century, the Mongols in the 13th century and then the British and the Russians who had a century-long dispute, ‘The Great Game’, over this territory, they all came here to lose battles and their soldiers’ lives. ‘The Great Game’ was a century-old political and diplomatic confrontation between two Empires, the British and the Russian. They fought over this area of land we stand on, Afghanistan, and its neighbouring territories in Central Asia, the Middle East, and South-East Asia. Russia was scared that Britain will gain power over Asia, while Britain was scared that Russia had its eye set on India, ‘the jewel of the crown’, to say the least. And all of this happened because of Afghanistan’s geo-political location at the gateway between Asia and Europe.’

A chair’s scraping against the floor sounded like a bird’s distant cry. ‘Geez, Geography lesson!, someone said, followed closely by a thud.

‘The tug of war between the British and Russian Empires over dominance in Asia was marked by three Anglo-Afghan wars. During this century of fighting Afghanistan’s borders were adjusted and readjusted by the two empires with little or no consultation with Afghan rulers. Yet the British forces were not able to conquer Afghanistan. So after the 3rd Anglo-Afghan War, in 1921, Afghanistan finally gained its independence and became a monarchy for about fifty years… Although Afghanistan had had its first taste of a totalitarian ruler during the 18th century when Ahmand Shah, a Durrani chieftain, established the Afghan state. By clever use of diplomacy and violence, managing and manipulating a web of powerful tribal fractions, Ahmand Shah brought together territories previously divided among autonomous provinces. But his system was not self-sustaining and after his death the tribal fractions he reunited fought for power in what was to become a centuries-long kaleidoscope of betrayal.’

A whisper at the back, ‘it’s History,’ was quickly hushed by another thud.

‘More Afghan leaders came and went. Some managed to do more for the country than the others. Take ‘The Iron Amir’, Abdurrahman Khan, who ruled through intimidation and repression and relied on an intricate network of spies. During his time the army evolved from an amalgam of tribal militias to a reliable, permanent fighting force. The Iron Amir also improved the educational system; he introduced a basic communication system and a single currency. Three generations of his family followed him to the throne of Afghanistan. His son even kept the country neutral during World War I, demanding international recognition of Afghanistan’s full independence. This stirred the British interest again but it was the Iron Amir’s grandson, Amanullah Khan, who had to deal with the third British-Afghan War. Surprisingly a treaty was signed, Britain recognising Afghanistan’s independence. Amanullah had big plans of turning Afghanistan into a modern state, making education a top priority and planning major reforms. He even drew the country’s first national budget in 1922 but did so at the expense of its army. It was the first time an Afghan leader tried to change the traditional values and practices. Amanullah made decrees in respect to women’s rights and he abolished slavery and child labour. But the very thing that defined him soon turned against him. The tribal and religious forces wanted to maintain the traditions as it helped them dominate the political landscape.

‘This is the thorn in the road that was often overlooked by Afghan leaders and even by outside political forces: the unique relationship between the country’s fourteen recognized ethnic groups and its various tribes. During Amanullah’s reign, the various tribes eventually joined forces to oppose his line of reforms and since he had neglected his army he could not ensure order and stability inside his new independent state and so he was soon forced to abdicate.’

‘You say that no army, but good progress is worse than having a well-trained army and little progress?’ said Kent.

‘In this case, yes. The local traditional powers are ruled by what they call ‘strongmen’, leaders who rule by force and abuse, often showing little regard to human rights and are set in their traditions.

‘More kings came and went while other things brewed in the background of this political turmoil and by 1973 the Afghan Communist Party had emerged and, through a communist coup, Daoud came to power. Again, at odds with the Afghan tribal and cultural traditions. The PDPA, People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, had plans of ambitious reforms, modern ones. They had foreseen dramatic changes to marriage rights and agricultural practices and planned a system of universal education and even a change in the role of women. This was perceived as ‘atheistic meddling in key Islam rituals’ and led to localized protests and then a national uprising.

‘The PDPA had ascended through army power, but it disintegrated through insubordination, desertion, and purges. The rejection of the communist regime by the Afghan people was universal and one of the most truly popular revolts of the 20th century. The Afghans perceived the Soviets who took over as a force that systematically planned to alienate every segment of their lives.

‘Similar to the British before them, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 planning to remain there for only six months, enough to take control of major centres and appoint a ruler. They stayed for ten years. This is why the CIA had time to plan its support and fund the Muhajideen rebels (or strugglers, or those engaged in Jihad) and armed them to fight against the Russians.’

‘So we had another situation of tug of war between two empires? Kind of not matter which large empire you are, as soon as you approach Afghanistan you are bound to bump into another country’s attempts to expert their own influence in the region?’ said Dunn.


‘After the Soviets began their interference in Afghanistan things began spinning out of proportion and it all went downhill in a mix of tribal laws and religious fanaticism. The Mujahadeen rebels, in control of rural areas, were united against the Soviet invaders and the USSR-backed Afghan Army that was holding the urban areas. Even after the Soviet withdrawal the Mujahadeen still continued their resistance against the communist regime left behind. And what happens, again? Different warlords emerge again, fighting against each other for supremacy over Afghanistan and carving out their own kingdoms of autonomous ruling waving Islam around as their lethal weapon. Newly formed Islamic militia, the Taliban, rises to power as a social and religious answer promising peace left and right so most Afghans, exhausted by years of war and famine, approve of the Taliban, blinded by its upholding of traditional Islamic values and by its promise to restore security in the country and eradicate corruption. But one step forward sometimes means two steps back. Or more. The Taliban enforces Islamic law through public executions and amputations. Soon after, the United States refuses to recognize the authority of the Taliban. And Afghanistan is faced with yet another internal armed struggle, an even darker one. The Taliban fighting for supremacy, allied with the al-Qaeda movement whose sole purpose was to continue their jihad, or holy war, against all those who oppose their goal of a pure nation governed by Islam.

‘Today, the Afghan army is in a feeble state, a hotchpotch of casualties and desertions. They are bleeding the few men they do have left. Any Afghan capable of holding a weapon, even older boys, are expected to join its ranks, here in Helmand more than in any other province. But they are terrified that they will be killed during the first intense fight or that their families left behind without their protection will be raped and tortured by the Taliban because they have joined the coalition army.

‘We are these villagers’ last hope. We can make a difference in their lives. War doesn’t have to be a reality for them anymore.

‘There are no Christian and Muslims here, but Christian people and Muslim people, real people whose lives are endangered every day. People whose daily life is tinted by the horror of knowing that they, or their loved ones, might be killed at any moment. We, too, can be killed, but this is our job so that our own people, back home, don’t have to go through their lives in fear of being shot at. (…)

Kent’s voice stopped everyone in their tracks.

‘Sources from these villages were saying that there is a body of Talibans who desire to be part of this country’s future. What are the chances that this is that very group and here we are, planning on annihilating them?’

‘Sources, Sergeant Kent?’

‘One of the guides we used the other day,’ said Kent, unfazed.

‘Guides are like a double-edged sword, Kent. And this is the reality about most Afghan soldiers. Yes, we are being communicated that Afghans officials are talking more about peace than they are talking about fighting their way to victory especially since not all the Taliban groups are involved in the fight anymore.

‘It seems that some Taliban groups do talk about peace. I haven’t met any. It is the Coalitions’ job to bridge the gap between the two sides, Taliban and Afghan leaders. But don’t you think, Kent, if the Taliban group who attacked the village yesterday had finished their fight, they wouldn’t have gone about killing innocent women and planting more IEDs?’

‘So what do you say, Captain?’

‘I say that some Talibans might be talking about peace or this may just be a rumour meant to get us to lower our guard. I say that some Afghans do want peace, especially some of the warlords, while other warlords are still thirsty for power and are not done carving themselves a slice of Afghanistan that’s big enough. I say that the CIA has abused the ‘warlord strategy’ and it is now coming back to bite us.

‘It has been part of the CIA’s strategy to portray the Afghanistan warlords as liberators and unifiers. Backed by the CIA, some warlords grew a strong army and challenged their rival tribes taking wrongful control over vast territories, promising that in return for monetary bribes they will help the CIA to locate al-Qaeda leaders. So these warlords’ power grew, their militia was recognised as a pro-U.S. ground force that often substituted the U.S. soldiers and even the ANA, Afghan National Army, in some areas. These warlords became now an integrated part of the country’s security apparatus. But the CIA had not made a distinction between any of the warlords it employed and this strategic mistake is something we pay for nowadays as, although some warlords have proved to be a stabilising power and I have met one once, Commander al Vizer, other warlords have proved able to undermine the Alliance’s security. These are the warlords showing rapacious behaviours. Through their powerful ambitions and selfish actions, through their hunger for power and self-interest foundation of their actions, through their corruption and violent nature, they have managed to strengthen the Taliban-led insurgency and engage themselves in torture and drug production. These warlords rule through force and fear, they are mere gangsters. And many of these undermining warlords have made fraudulent claims regarding the location of many Taliban fighters; many have fed the CIA false information that suited their own ends. Khan Zadran is known to have successfully called in airstrikes on rival tribal authorities and to have terrorized Afghan villages under false pretences that they were Taliban targets. (…)

The men left the briefing room quietly and geared up, only the call to the first daily prayer, the Fajr, echoing from the nearby settlement, at odds with the country’s centuries-old war state.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Silent Heroes is FREE to download from Amazon on the 19th and 20th of August, today and tomorrow. Download now from Amazon.

A group of U.S. Marines and their MWD, Military Working Dogs, are the last chance of survival for a small group of Afghan people, the survivals of a city of ten thousand inhabitants. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the Allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.

Silent Heroes is a work of fiction about everyday people, soldiers and dogs caught in war, a read filled with action, thrill and emotional twists and turns.

More on my blog, on Taliban, the history of Afghanistan and its people, and my book Silent Heroes:

Taliban History Afghanistan book, Rafik, an Afghan boy laughing

Rafik’s journey in Silent Heroes: the Hindu Kush Mountains, an Oshkosh vehicle, the Afghan Desert, at Camp Bastion, and in n Afghan village.

women's rights

5 Secrets revealed in Silent Heroes: the humanity of the U.S. Marines, the women’s rights under Taliban, Taliban’s secret lair, the military chain of command, and a mysterious underground fortress.

Have you downloaded Silent Heroes yet? It’s FREE for only two day, the 19th and the 20th of August.

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43 Replies to “Taliban, the History of Afghanistan and its People, Silent Heroes Book Extract”

  1. The post was a little long for my eyesight to stay functional, but I very much enjoyed you setting the scene.

    One of the things I find significant in this is the speed with which the Taliban have regained the country. I mean, how badly must the old government have been running things, that opposition to the Taliban just melted away so quickly?

  2. I don’t think they had a proper government in place, or a proper political infrastructure. Sadly.

    Thank you for visiting. I do appreciate it 🙂

      1. Afghanistan struggled with a monarchy, British and Russian occupation, Communism, and all atop a strong tribal culture.

  3. What a troubled country! When you think they suffered enough, here comes the communist party. 🙁 Very, very sad history. And it seems that their days of turmoil are not over.

    1. Yes. I enjoyed how Hosseini In the novel “The Kite Runner” Khaled Hosseini tells the story of an Afghan boy, Amir, and the trials he must go through to atone for his sins and eventually learn who he really is. Hosseini uses the themes of love and father-son tension, their lives’ intersection with the Afghanistan’s political events to explore the roles that social expectations, adulthood, and a basic sense of ethics play in the development of Amir’s character. And I loved that the essential message of The Kite Runner is about second chances.

      1. Yes. One of the best books I’ve ever read. The relevance of this book is very unavoidable…… reading always helps us to take genuine decision in life..

        1. Yes. I enjoyed ‘I Am Malala’ very much too.
          Well said, reading broadens our horizons and sharpens our minds.
          Thank you 🙂

          1. Yes.. I too. And let her fly her father
            A Father’s Journey & Fight for Equality is also a good work. Keep sharing more and keep in touch.. I am a person who is interested in reading.

    1. Kind thanks for visiting, Michael. Glad my post was at least a bit helpful in casting some light on a very troubled political situation.:)

  4. Patricia, I was completely engrossed by your writing. It felt as if I was a part of the briefing. It’s so sad that Afghanistan has been mishandled for so many years. I can see why the fighting spirit has completely disappeared. The locals have been so lost and forlorn. This is a game that was played from too many angles and none proved beneficial to the country. The Taliban are religious fanatics who dictate the laws according to their own barbaric thinking. Women are the worst affected. What has humankind achieved in so many years of development and existence? A tragic loss of humanity.
    I have downloaded your book and will share the link ahead. People must read this.
    Will leave a review as well.
    Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    1. Terveen, you have such a sharp eye and are such a keen observer.
      I am thrilled that the extra long extract (sorry) kept you on the page.
      Thank you for your interest and support 🙂 I know how busy you are launching Masticadores India! 🙂

  5. thanks for such a timely post; it is helpful to know a bit about the history of Afghansitan and the Taliban so that we can better learn how to work with them…

  6. Pat – i just finished this and will be reviewing as soon as I digest it all. I did not understand the full history. It was very timely for me. It would be very beneficial for all to read.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read, Miss Judy 🙂
      I enjoy your blog very much. Your opinion is highly appreciated 🙂

  7. Thanks so much Pat for the historical background on Afghanistan. The country has struggled for so long simply because of its location on the map (and stronger countries with their own agendas.) Your excerpt gives me a better perspective on how a group like the Taliban gained power and how to never underestimate the power of the tribal culture. With the news this week, and watching an American soldier talk on the news about Afghanistan, I had considered writing about it, but I think I’m going to leave it to the experts. 😉 I would like to say that I don’t believe the Taliban’s current charm offensive for a second, and I am devastated thinking about the lives of the women and young girls who gained SO much in the last 20 years. That side of the story is heartbreaking.

    1. Ah, Melanie, so good to see you
      These are wise words and heartfelt, like you always speak

      I wrote this book a few years ago, when the U.S.Marines were not quite on their way out… And hopes were high for the Afghan people. How thing have changes.

      1. Yes, hopes were high. There had been so much progress. But in a way, I’m not sure why the U.S. thought they could succeed where other countries had failed, perhaps because of the 20 year investment and offering all of that training. It is just stunning though how quickly both of those things failed. Thanks for sharing this history, I thought it was very insightful.

  8. Very effective and insightful expose here that builds what I see as a proper framework or prism from which to peer into a very at times chaotic and frightening human reality of suffering, misery and hatred.

    A “hotbed of turmoil,” “between a rock and a hard place” continually, which naturally has become a “cauldron of despair” that has left a nation and its people tattered and torn in their hearts and souls. They need an absolute miracle.

    This excerpt: “The Afghans perceived the Soviets who took over as a force that systematically planned to alienate every segment of their lives,” helps me to realize that I do understand their warranted fear! That scenario would absolutely happen under any Soviet or any Communist ruled nation’s intervention in Afghan affairs.

    This was the resultant reflex or knee jerk reaction by an angered people who grew fed-up and exponentially more hostile toward the surrounding world; metaphorically like a hornet’s nest being poked and prodded.
    As stated, “like a double-edged sword,” that is exactly what this situation in Afghanistan is, no matter which way the prevailing forces move someone is always going to be cut!

    “Violence begets violence” and this country has been overwhelmed with it for centuries nonstop; can we fantasize about peace and happiness arriving anytime soon in this land of upheaval? “A fool’s errand in the least or a nightmare at best!”

    “Their hunger for power and self-interest foundation of their actions, through their corruption and violent nature, they have managed to strengthen the Taliban-led insurgency and engage themselves in torture and drug production.”

    To me that statement is the Mindset currently in place and on steroids! With the failed US pullout done in such a foolish and demented weak manner, leaving behind so much military hardware worth in the hundreds of billions of dollars, serves only to embolden the Jihadist position and emotional thought process; all of which again proves a nation’s leadership, if we can call it that in this case, has played right into the hands of evil!

    God bless. Amen.
    Lawrence Morra III

    1. War has no sides, only devastating results.
      Thank you for your visit, Lawrence.
      Best wishes.

      1. Patricia, sometimes it’s a definite matter of get up off one’s posterior and defend yourself or be trampled underfoot! We have seen far too many examples of this over the ages and if we had not done so with our allies taken on the fight and War against Hitler and Emperor Hirohito and others we would not be enjoying the luxury of speaking so freely up to this point in time!

        War has been called hell and unfortunately that is true to a large extent but an unavoidable consequence of allowing tyrants and brutal regimes to continue on their chosen path of annihilation toward totalitarian control until things reach a breaking point! I think in such a massive out of control situation “there are clearly defined sides” and sadly you must choose the lesser of the evils or the less tyrannical side obviously in order to protect yourself and loved ones; which had occurred during WWII for example, or we could just lie down and take the genocide and madness that ensues!

        Even way back when William Wallace, Brave Heart, and his countrymen in Scotland needed to fight back against the brutality and misery that Edward I Longshanks and the Hammer of England perpetrated upon the peasantry throughout the British Isles, because he had supreme power to do as he wished, and no human being should have that kind of power over others! I happen to know God agrees; and if my blood must run for that purpose so be it!

        Eventually God’s plan and prophecies will reach their fruition and until that time there have been those battles that needed to be fought to get us further down the path to God’s final judgment; when the curtain will come down no if’s and’s or but’s! You and I and everyone should be thankful for all of those valiant heroes that lived before us otherwise you and I would most likely not have lived! Don’t trust the ways of the world but only trust in the Lord thy God! That does mean if necessary laying it all on the line to do God’s will; and not your own. Thank you!~
        God bless.

      2. An added notation Patricia about outcomes; more times than not the result is the right side wins for freedom; not allowing tyranny or evil to have its way!

  9. Thank you very much, Patricia, for your informative exctract from your book “silent heroes”, which I downloaded!
    I consider especially helpful the following sentence: “The CIA had not made a distinction between any of the warlords it employed.”

    1. Chilling to learn that, isn’t it? It shocked me too when I researched this book.
      Thank you, Martina. 🙂

  10. Thank you for this. I was looking for an explanation of Afghanistan from an outsider’s perspective and this one sits right with me.

  11. My heart breaks for the ordinary citizens of Afghanistan. These poor people have suffered for so long. with no end in sight.

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