A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Hardback)
  • A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Hardback)
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A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Hardback)

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£35.95
Hardback Published: 16/05/2011
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The conflict in Afghanistan looms large in the collective consciousness of Americans. What has the United States achieved, and how will it withdraw without sacrificing those gains? The Soviet Union confronted these same questions in the 1980s, and Artemy Kalinovsky’s history of the USSR’s nine-year struggle to extricate itself from Afghanistan and bring its troops home provides a sobering perspective on exit options in the region.

What makes Kalinovsky’s intense account both timely and important is its focus not on motives for initiating the conflict but on the factors that prevented the Soviet leadership from ending a demoralizing war. Why did the USSR linger for so long, given that key elites recognized the blunder of the mission shortly after the initial deployment?

Newly available archival material, supplemented by interviews with major actors, allows Kalinovsky to reconstruct the fierce debates among Soviet diplomats, KGB officials, the Red Army, and top Politburo figures. The fear that withdrawal would diminish the USSR’s status as leader of the Third World is palpable in these disagreements, as are the competing interests of Afghan factions and the Soviet Union’s superpower rival in the West. This book challenges many widely held views about the actual costs of the conflict to the Soviet leadership, and its findings illuminate the Cold War context of a military engagement that went very wrong, for much too long.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674058668
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

An original and important book that advances our knowledge of the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR. - William C. Taubman, author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

A very impressive book on a timely topic. Kalinovsky tells the most complete story to date of Soviet decision-making about the Afghan war. He also challenges many widely held views about the actual costs to the Soviet leadership of the war and shows how Washington and Islamabad threw up obstacles that lengthened the conflict. Americans have been reluctant to look to the Soviet experience for potential lessons about Afghanistan, but this lucidly written book could be a most useful and thought-provoking primer. - Robert Crews, author of For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia

Kalinovsky has provided the only comprehensive and up-to-date discussion of the process leading to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. This clearly written book will be useful not only to historians, but to anyone who wants to understand the ongoing developments in Afghanistan and the issues surrounding Western disengagement. - Antonio Giustozzi, author of Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field

A brilliant account of Soviet intervention and withdrawal from Afghanistan. Its relevance to the current experience of the U.S. is evident, but the value of this powerfully written work lies in its incisive analysis of military intervention as a mode of foreign policy and the abyss into which it led the Soviet Union. A Long Goodbye is essential reading that suggests valuable lessons for the last superpower standing. - Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990

A well-written, nuanced account of the withdrawal of Soviet military forces from Afghanistan. Kalinovsky is particularly skillful in analyzing Soviet policymakers' calculations and in capturing the complexity of the Soviet-Afghan war. His attention to the post-withdrawal period brings in a crucial element of the story that has been omitted from almost all previous accounts. - Mark Kramer, Director, Cold War Studies Program, Harvard University

A powerful and insightful contribution to our understanding of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and its aftermath. Kalinovsky's analysis of the final chapter of the war is both balanced and full of empathy for the challenge the Soviets faced in withdrawing their troops. A must read for anyone interested in the history of conflict in the region. - Svetlana Savranskaya, National Security Archive, George Washington University

Kalinovsky's study of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan is impressively researched and wholly convincing. It should make grim but essential reading for U.S. soldiers and statesmen today, who face many of the same dilemmas as their Soviet predecessors. - Anatol Lieven, author of Pakistan: A Hard Country

Wow. Talk about prescient. Anyone who thinks America and its allies have a chance of winning—whatever that means—in the war against the Afghanistan Taliban needs to take a long look at A Long Goodbye. Kalinovsky tells us that the former Soviet Union began to search for a way out of Afghanistan in 1982, and did not complete its troop withdrawal for seven years. We also learn that Moscow was fed throughout a stream of field reports focused on mythical successes in the battlefield. Sound familiar? It should. - Seymour M. Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Chain of Command

[Kalinovsky's] account is meticulously documented and supplemented by interviews with surviving Russian protagonists. Though further documents will no doubt come to light, it is unlikely his lucid and elegant narrative will soon be bettered. - Rodric Braithwaite, Financial Times

[Kalinovsky] sketches a candid portrait of the Politburo's frustrations and doubts over the 10-year military campaign, which ended in the 1989 retreat...A Long Goodbye reminds its readers of the U.S. military incursions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Kalinovsky doesn't dwell on why the Soviets went in, but wonders why it took the country so long to bring its soldiers home...The U.S. reader cannot miss the resonance of this story. It may be even more relevant now that Osama bin Laden is out of the picture. - Eleanor Mallet, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Deeply researched and fluidly written. - Andrew Meier, Bookforum

How Moscow faced up to its Afghan quagmire is convincingly explained by Artemy M. Kalinovsky in A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan. Kalinovsky has squeezed every available drop of information out of the still well-defended Soviet archives. - Jonathan Mirsky, Literary Review

[A] first-rate...book on the Soviet experience in Afghanistan...with somber messages for the countries whose armed forces are now active there...Artemy M. Kalinovsky makes good use of recently available archival evidence and memoirs, supplemented by interviews with Soviet politicians and military participants in the war in Afghanistan. - Archie Brown, Times Literary Supplement

The Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-89) has passed from being the subject of angry international debate to the object of calm historical inquiry, but given the current conflict there, the period retains a certain urgent resonance. [This] new book sheds useful light on those days...[A] highly detailed study of the Soviet withdrawal. - Brian M. Downing, Wall Street Journal

A Long Goodbye, by Russian historian Artemy Kalinovsky, is an excellent account of the Gorbachev administration's handling of the actual withdrawal process and the futile Soviet search for a peace settlement. - Anatol Lieven, New York Review of Books

This intriguing, well-written book by Kalinovsky draws some important parallels between the Soviet Union's misadventures in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the dilemmas facing the U.S. in Afghanistan today. Rather than a scholarly tome, this is a great piece that reads more like investigative journalism. It makes for an entertaining, thought-provoking read. - M. D. Crosston, Choice

This is a fascinating and very useful book for those interested in Russian/Soviet foreign policy in general and the decision-making process behind the Kremlin's decision to invade Afghanistan in particular. It will be especially useful for those who are interested in the Kremlin's decision to pull its forces out several years later. Significantly, the author focuses on areas that have received little attention from western observers...It does an excellent job of explaining how exogenous variables can have an impact on foreign policy decision making. As Kalinovsky points out, given the closed nature of much of the material dealing with the Afghan adventure, we only know part of the story. This book covers a very important part of the story, however. It will be indispensable to graduate students and academics specializing in Russian foreign policy. It will also be of interest to anyone interested in military or security matters as well as foreign policy specialists in general. - Dale R. Herspring, Slavic Review

Tell[s] the troubled tale of the Soviet intervention and withdrawal. In doing so, [it] shatter[s] mischaracterizations that prevent the West from looking to this decade as a source of lessons...Provides the oft-missing Soviet perspective based on Politburo records. - Ryan Evans, Foreign Policy

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