History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878


History of Afghanistan from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878 is a political and military history of Afghanistan that was published in London in 1879, shortly after the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878−80). The author, George Bruce Malleson, was a British army officer and military historian who had served in India and who wrote prolifically on the history of India and Afghanistan. The central theme of the book is the strategic importance to the British Empire of Afghanistan as a buffer against Russian expansion toward India. Malleson explains why Afghanistan, a mountainous “country of rocks and stones,” has an importance “far beyond its territorial value.” Following an opening chapter on the physical features of the country and the ethnic composition of its population, Malleson recounts the succession of dynasties and leaders through the centuries, from the Ghaznavid Empire (977–1186) to the reign of Dōst Moḥammad Khān (1826−39 and 1842–63). As the narrative approaches Malleson’s own day, it becomes unabashedly nationalistic and partisan. The book argues for a forceful policy in which the protection of India against possible Russian threats should take precedence over the views of independence-minded Afghan rulers. Malleson criticizes the policy of Prime Minister William Gladstone and Thomas Baring, Earl of Northbrook, viceroy of India from 1872 to 1876, for attempting to pursue by diplomatic means agreements that would have prevented the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The work was translated into Pushto and published in Peshawar in 1930.

Last updated: September 30, 2016