Afghanistan and its Neighbors


Afghanistan und seine Nachbarländer (Afghanistan and its neighbors) by Hermann Roskoschny (1845–98) was considered the standard reference in German on Afghanistan in the late 19th century. Roskoschny was an author and publisher who studied in Prague and Munich and taught briefly in Saint Petersburg. He wrote books on Russia and on the European colonies in sub-Saharan Africa. Afghanistan und seine Nachbarländer was published in two volumes in 1885, five years after the end of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, a conflict that figures prominently in the work. Roskoschny discusses the competition for influence in Central Asia between Russia and the British Empire that provided the context for the war, the fear on the part of the British that the Russians would use Afghanistan as a base from which to threaten British India, and the war itself, which pitted British India against the Barakzai dynasty of Afghanistan under Sher Ali Khan (reigned 1863–66 and 1868–79). Other topics that Roskoschny discusses include the origins of the Afghan people, the ancient history of the country, and the frontier disputes with British India. A separate chapter in the first volume is devoted to the “most interesting” Kafiristan, or “The Land of the Infidels,” a region in eastern Afghanistan where the inhabitants had retained their traditional culture and religion and rejected conversion to Islam. The volumes include four explanatory maps and a total of 103 drawings that depict places, people, and daily life in Afghanistan of the time.

Last updated: September 30, 2016