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Afghanistan in the 20th Century Essay

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Updated: Jun 26th, 2019

Introduction: General Overview of the Topic with Regard to the Sources

After the reign of Abdur Rahnam who split the history of Afghanistan into two parts, the 20th century introduced a new model of government. The country reached political independence which new horizons in exploring new social, political and economic terrains.

However, slow growth of modernization and the emergence of radical opposition to governmental reform signified that the Afghan people are still attached to conservative patterns already in the second half of 20th century, with the invasion of the Soviet Union. In this respect, the sources under consideration disclose different dimensions of the Afghan history in the 20th century in various styles and approaches.

The central source is an autobiographical narration called Confessions of a Mullah Warrior. Other sources reveal factual and secondary information about significant historic event that affected the modern state of the Afghan politics, economy, and culture.

Opportunities and Limitations Presented by the Style of Sources

All sources under consideration provide historical overview of the major facts and events taking place in the heart of Asia. A special consideration deserves Confessions of Mullah Warrior provides an autobiographical narration where the author provide its unique vision on what happened in Afghanistan.

In his narrations, there were both pessimistic and optimistic notes in depicting the events and conflicts, appositions and cooperation with other countries. Importantly, his narration is presented in a chronological order starting from his childhood and ending with becoming a journalist. Framed structure shows that the author is still attached to his country and culture.

While comparing this narration with other sources, it should be stressed that are presented in the form of historical display of facts with notes of subjective evaluation. In this regard, the main limitation of their works is absence of objectivity in presenting the veritable date.

In particular, Barfield (2010) and Wahaba and Youngerman (2007) perceive the twentieth century Afghanistan as being firmly attained to the events of the past regimes.

Roberts (2007), however, provides an unconventional style of interpreting the history of Afghanistan showing that the Afghan people had been striving to revive their cultural and religion traditions and establish favorable relations at the international level, but were significantly hampered by the firmly established stereotypes.

Clammer (2007) and Johnson (2004) have decided not to divert from the standards of chronological narration and provides a consistent overview of the sequence of event where one historical fact is closely intertwined with another.

In this regard, the main limitation of these sources consists in insufficient analysis and synthesis of the presented sources. In particular, the author fails to represent a comparative analysis of the event that would contribute to the exploration of the topic under consideration.

The limitation in the studies provided by Runion (2007) lies in the fact that the author split the Afghan history into two parts and singles out in more detail on a period after 70s of the past century. On the one hand, the author successfully presents all facts connected to the topic. On the other hand, the author fails to give an overall appraisal to the period at issue.

The Advantages and Disadvantages Using the Sources for Historical Studies

Due to the fact that the sources under consideration provide different styles and structures of the topic presentations, they can create some difficulties in exploring the problem. In particular, Farivar’s autobiographic narration presents an subjective outlook on the event taking in the course of the past century in Afghanistan. In particular, he provides his unique evaluation of the situation during the war in 1989.

In particular, Being former fighter mojahedin, he expressed his original appraisal of the jihad against the Soviet Union: “[t]his was no longer a jihad, a war of liberation against the godless Soviets; it had degenerated into a conflict manipulated by outsiders, each with very different ambitions” (Farivar, 2009, p. 5).

Although the source is mostly based on the personal experience of the military actions and political and cultural transformation held in the country, it is hard to consider the book as the reliable source. Nevertheless, the source greatly contributes to an in-depth evaluation of the actions happened in 1989.

Although the sources seem to be based on the reliable and valid analyses of facts and figures, the researcher select completely different approaches in evaluating the period under consideration. In particular, most of the sources make an excessive accent on the Afghan history in the 19th century, though most of the events are not connected with the facts from this perspective (Runion, 2007; Clammer, 2007; Johnson, 2004; Robers, 2007).

In contrast, Barfield (2010), Farivar (2009) and Wahab and Youngerman (2007) are more consistent in these terms and successfully manage to provide a general evaluation of separate period from the history of Afghanistan.

Despite inappropriate structure that is inconvenient for a full exploration of the topic at issues, there are still great benefits of analyzing some particular historical events from different angels as presented in studies of Ruinon (2007) and Roberts (2007).

In particular, they resort to the analysis of the period by investigating one particular problem and how it is considered in various periods. In general, all sources provide a sufficient outlook on the military actions and transformation held in the course of the 20th century.

The Biases of the Authors and Relevance of Their Works to the Topic

While evaluating the sources from scientific point of view and from the amount of contributions made by the researchers, great bias is attached to a biographical narration provided by Farivar (2009).

In particular, excessive use of metaphoric descriptions definitely contributes to the exploration and better understanding of the author’s position, but still it provides some bias and ambiguity in the purpose of narration and in understanding the historical significant and relevance of the his studies.

Other sources are strongly juxtaposed to the above book because they present a mere display of historical facts and detached appraisal of historic events connected with the topic.


In conclusion, an in-depth analysis of the presented sources has revealed that despite the fact that all of them are closely related to the consideration of Afghanistan in the 20th century, there are certain details that should be explored in more detail.

What is more important, a comparative evaluation of the discussed book has disclosed that the history of Afghanistan is mostly unveiled through the prism of pro-Western orientation, which significantly hampers the objective evaluation of the historical facts.

Therefore, a combination of personal experience as presented in the main source supported by factual information will be more efficient in understanding the history of Afghan people in the 20th century.

Reference List

Barfield, T. (2010). Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History. US: Princeton University Press.

Clammer, P. (2007). Afghanistan. US: Lonely Planet.

Farivar, M. (2009). Confessions of a Mullah Warrior. US: Atlantic Monthly Press.

Johnson, C. (2004). Afghanistan. US: Oxfarm.

Roberts J. J. (2003). The origins of conflicts in Afghanistan. US: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Runion, M. (2007). The history of Afghanistan. US: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Wahab, S. and Youngerman, B. (2007). A Brief History of Afghanistan. US: Infobase Publishing.

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