I am in the midst of developing curriculum materials on Afghanistan. Here are five books that I would recommend to anyone interested in the current situation, the country’s history and people, and the U.S. role there.
The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1880-1946. Author: Vartan Gregorian. Written in 1969, this is a beautifully written, thoroughly researched work.
Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History. Author: Thomas Barfield. Written by an anthropologist, this book from 2010 is a rich source of information; it covers the history to present nicely and give attention to the lives of ordinary Afghans as well.
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Author: Steve Coll. Published in 2004, it is well written and delivers what the title promises.
Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Author: Ahmed Rashid. 2008. Lots of great sources from all sides.
The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda. Author: Peter Bergen. 2011. Current and insightful.