Reaching back to earliest times, Ewans examines the historical evolution of one of today's most dangerous breeding grounds of global terrorism. After a succession of early dynasties and the emergence of an Afgan empire during the eighteenth century, the nineteenth and early twentieth century saw a fierce power struggle between Russia and Britain for supremacy in Afghanistan that was ended by the nation's proclamation of independence in 1919.A communist coup in the late 1970s overthrew the established regime and led to the invasion of Soviet troops in 1979. Roughly a decade later, the Soviet Union withdrew, condemning Afghanistan to a civil war that tore apart the nation's last remnants of religious, ethnic, and political unity. It was into this climate that the Taliban was born. Today, war-torn and economically destitute, Afghanistan faces unique challenges as it looks toward an uncertain future. Martin Ewans carefully weighs the lessons of history to provide a frank look at Afghanistan's prospects and the international resonances of the nation's immense task of total political and economic reconstruction.