The Russo-Afghan Question and the Invasion of India


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. One of his major works was History of Afghanistan from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878, 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 Russo-Afghan Question and the Invasion of India, published six years later, has the same theme as the earlier book, namely the strategic importance to the British Empire of Afghanistan as a buffer against Russian expansionism and the growing seriousness of the Russian threat to Afghanistan and by extension to India. The immediate impetus to Malleson’s writing the second book was the Russian annexation of Merv (in present-day Turkmenistan) and the formation of a joint Anglo-Russian boundary commission to determine the northern frontier of Afghanistan. The author argues that the territories recently seized by Russia historically belonged to the amir of Afghanistan and should be returned to him. The key strategic point, Malleson argues, is Herat, “the outlying redoubt of India” and in his view the next objective in the Russian campaign of expansion. Malleson calls for a forceful response to the threat from Russia, and specifically the concentration of “all our available troops in the Pishin valley, ready for a prompt advance” to Herat. Chapter nine, “The Armies on Both Sides,” contains a detailed accounting of the size, composition, and strength of Russian military units deployed in Central Asia and of the British and Indian troops available for the protection of India. The book presented here is the second edition of The Russo-Afghan Question and the Invasion of India, published in 1885.

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George Routledge and Sons, London


Title in Original Language

The Russo-Afghan question and the invasion of India

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192 pages : maps ; 20 centimeters


  1. E.M. Lloyd, revised by James Falkner, “Malleson, George Bruce (1825‒1898),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: August 28, 2017