Afghanistan

Description

Angus Hamilton (1874‒1913) was a British journalist who reported for a number of newspapers and journals between 1894 and 1912. Among the events he covered were the Boer War in South Africa, the Boxer uprising in China, and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5. Like most books of this period, Afghanistan approaches its subject through the prism of the rivalry between Great Britain and Russia for influence in Central Asia, the so-called “Great Game.” The book, more than 600 pages, is intended to be a “single comprehensive study of contemporary conditions” in Afghanistan and Central Asia. The first chapter is devoted to the Orenburg−Tashkent Railway (in present-day Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan) recently completed by the Russians. It is followed by chapters devoted to the khanates, provinces, and districts to the north of Afghanistan, notably Bukhara, Tashkent, Samarkand, and Merv, territories located in present-day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Subsequent chapters cover Herat, Kandahar, Seistan (Sistan), and Kabul. Hamilton also devotes separate chapters to the provinces and ethnic groups in the country; administration, law, and revenue; trade and industry; and the army. The author devotes the last two chapters to the tenuous Anglo-Afghan relations, especially the border zone with India, as well as Russian influence on Kabul. He has high praise for Abd al-Rahman Khan, ruler of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901, for his work to modernize his country, but concludes that he “failed to bequeath to his son any portion of his own singular abilities.” His son and successor was Habibullah Khan (reigned 1901–19). Presented here is the first edition of the book, published in London in 1906. It is illustrated with 145 photographs depicting British and Afghan officials, ordinary Afghans, monuments, land features, and palaces. A long list of appendices provides explanatory and supporting materials. A second, shorter edition of the book, also presented in World Digital Library, was published in Boston and Tokyo in 1910.

Last updated: July 28, 2017