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Long heralded as a seminal work on the history of Afghanistan, this book traces the evolution of the modern Afghan state by studying the politics of reform and modernization that started in 1880 through World War II. This history is marked with persistent attempts by the Afghan ruling dynasty to assert and strengthen its rule--both against the great imperial powers, as well as over the various Afghan tribes within its territory. In this reissue, Vartan Gregorian offers a new introduction that places the key themes of the book in the context of contemporary events, addressing questions of tribalism, nationalism, Islam, and modernization, as well as the legacies of the Cold War and the various exit strategies of occupying powers. The book remains as distinctive today as when it was first published. It is the only broad work on Afghan history that considers ethnicity as the defining influence over the course of the country's history, rather than religion. In light of today's ongoing struggle to develop a coherent national identity, the question of Afghan nationalism remains a particularly significant issue.