Invisible History
Afghanistan's Untold Story
Introduction by Sima Wali

Press Reviews

Dissident Voice

"The history told within these covers is the story of an ancient nation whose intention in the past century or so has included the creation of a free and tolerant society. . . . It is the authors' contention that this struggle erupted into a civil war when the US began arming warlords and reactionary religious forces in its war against the Soviets. . . . This book puts the responsibility for Afghanistan’s desperate situation directly in the laps of US policymakers . . . It also asks whether or not this was the intention of those policymakers all along."
—Ron Jacobs

Sunday Gazette Mail

"Invisible History provides a wealth of often generally-unknown details about the tribal and ethnic alliances that created current divisions and government instability."
—Paul J. Nyden

Nexus Magazine

"To understand Afghanistan's tragic circumstances, this well-documented book by journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould is essential reading. . . . The authors urge US leaders to learn from the Soviet experience and adjust their policies to help the Afghan people regain their independence, especially from foreign-supported extremism, before it is too late. Engaging reportage."
—Ruth Parnell

Book News

"Fitzgerald and Gould (journalists who have been reporting on Afghanistan and US policy towards Afghanistan since 1981) narrate the political history of Afghanistan and provide a critical analysis of US policy towards Afghanistan. They reveal the manipulations of Afghanistan by the United States and other great powers from the 'Great Game' of the 19th century through the current 'War on Terror' and describe its terrible consequences for the Afghan people."

"In Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould outline striking historical accounts of an ancient nation, its borders shaped through colonial wars and conflicts between empires. Their style is reflective yet factual, delving into Afghanistan's key role in central conflicts that have defined global politics in the past century, from the Cold War to the "war on terror."

Stefan Christoff

Pink Tank

"In Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story (City Lights Books, 2009), authors Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould give a current examination of the last hundred years in Afghanistan. . . An excellent chapter at the end offers What Can President Barack Obama Do?, an organized list of  solid recommendations.  It includes 2. Stop humiliating Afghan men and desecrating their homes, a practice many say recruits militants. The list also acknowledges the problem of humanitarian aid trickling down slowly and meagerly: 4. Start helping Afghans in a way they can understand, see, and appreciate. . . Mr. President, are you listening?" —Lisa Savage

Irish Times

"In their recent book, Invisible History, Afghanistan's Untold Story, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, two US journalists with a long involvement there, trace how it has re-emerged after being parked with a compliant Pakistani regime during the Iraq war. . . Speaking at meetings throughout the US, Fitzgerald and Gould report a bewilderment about why the extra troops are being sent there now. They believe the Obama administration is buying time to save face, redefine its commitment and reorganise its priorities."


"Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould is a must read book for anyone who wants to understand world geopolitics since the Vietnam war and even before . . . . Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, is a must read for anyone trying to understand AF/PAK policy.  I have not even scratched the surface of what you will find in this book. And how about a teaser? - Pakistan's ISI was involved in the 911 attacks." —Ron Beasley


"Thirty years in the making, this deeply researched book is bursting with overlooked facts and unauthorized insights. Through their erudition, prescience and passion, Gould and Fitzgerald have provided us with an urgent and necessary history, one that pierces through the haze of misinformation that has, for far too long, obscured the guiding light of an authentic past. The timeliness of this book cannot be overstated." —Ryan Croken


"Invisible History shows us that we now have an opportunity to transform ourselves through an honest confrontation with our past: a confrontation that would lead us to reorient our national policies around the tabernacle of our professed moral values. If we choose to ignore this opportunity, and once again turn a blind eye to history and its lessons, then we may find ourselves in grave danger, not just from the threat of terrorist attacks, but from falling victim to the same folly that has toppled empires throughout history." —Ryan Croken

Present Magazine
"In order to understand why the United States currently finds itself at war in Afghanistan, one must turn back to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In order to understand why 9/11 happened, one must turn back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the measures taken primarily by the United States to arm and train the radical Islamist fighters who drove the Soviets out. In order to understand why the Soviets invaded in the first place, one must do what Fitzgerald and Gould have done, which is to look critically at Soviet-Afghan relations in a way that cuts through the mythology of the Cold War and lays bare the facts." —Kale Baldock

Asia Times
"Nearly 30 years after their first foray into the land-locked buffer state, married couple and journalist-historians Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould could not have chosen a more appropriate time to publish their comprehensive Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story. . . A chronically disinformed US public should leap at the chance to familiarize themselves with an honest overview of their country's historically scandalous involvement in the region." —Anthony Fenton

Midwest Book Review
"There's more to Afghanistan's history than the rise and fall of the Taliban. Afghanistan's Untold Story is a look at the oft forgotten long and storied history of the Afghani people. Drawing the tale from thousands of years ago in ancient times to what Afghanistan was like before the infamous wars with the Soviet Union, it tells the story from the Afghani perspective, leading to a fascinating story of a war-torn people. Afghanistan's Untold Story is enthralling history reading, a great pick indeed." —James A. Cox

The Middle East Journal

"Utilizing 20 years of experience of researching and reporting on Afghanistan, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould seek to clarify and contextualize the current situation in conflict-torn Afghanistan with this comprehensive history. The material covers events starting in ancient antiquity, but puts a heavy emphasis on the second half of the 20th century through the end of 2007. The work concludes with analysis and strategy recommendations for the incoming American President and is supplemented by an appendix of historical maps."

—Shannon Rosenberg

The Philadelphia Bulletin

"Unhinged by war for nearly 30 years,  Afghanistan's tragic  story and how it got where it is, teetering on the brink of collapse as a nation-state, is described  by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould in Invisible History — Afghanistan’s Untold Story. The book’s approach is comprehensive, combining the sweep of interpretative, historical survey with a current-affairs analysis in the latter chapters, which guides the reader to understand the issues that have plagued Afghanistan for the past two centuries. . . . Afghanistan’s Untold Story raises many questions — not all readily answerable — about America’s role in Afghanistan, and by extension, in other troubled parts of the world."

—Sam Oglesby

The Dallas Morning News

"The fog obscuring U.S. policies in Afghanistan is thicker than elsewhere in the region. The authors cut through it meticulously, exposing layers of cultural arrogance and myopia. They demonstrate with painful clarity how these traits helped push our would-be ally into the Soviet orbit, causing us to arm and promote the violent extremists we're fighting today. When confronted with al-Qaeda's nihilism on 9/11, our response was 'wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and ... ineffective.'"

Kirkus Reviews
"Seasoned journalists Fitzgerald and Gould—co-producers of the 1981 PBS documentary Afghanistan Between the Wars—deliver a probing history of the country and a critical evaluation of American involvement in recent decades. The authors had just finished a documentary in late 1979 on SALT II (Arms Race and the Economy) when Russia invaded the seemingly insignificant country of Afghanistan. In this densely researched work, they study the ancient ethnic makeup of the country, its fledgling attempts at democracy and the catastrophic rise of the Taliban, introduced by Pakistan refugee groups and funded by the Saudis. As the 'meeting place of four cultural zones,' Afghanistan has constantly been overrun by invaders eager to get somewhere else, including Alexander the Great, early Arab armies that converted the country to Islam, Genghis Khan, and the mid-19th century invasion by the British, which sowed the seeds of destabilizing colonial politics that would wreak havoc until the present day. The country lived in perpetual fear of Russian invasion of its northern territories, and it became a natural base for Cold War confrontation. Internally, a conservative, traditional society in which Islam played a pious rather than political role was being radically transformed by the 1970s, 'under the influence of outside religious and intellectual forces.' Most chilling to read is the American government's hot-cold manipulation of the region for its own purposes. As the situation devolved into 'a sea of drugs, covert operations, Islamic revolutionaries, and Maoist cadres,' and U.S. ambassador Adolph Dubs was murdered in February 1979, an aggressive anti-Soviet stance was set in play from Brzezinski to Reagan, and the entrenchment of Islamic extremism was assured. The authors ably demystify Afghan efforts in the wake of 9/11, delineating its destroyed culture and offering a cogent plan for the next American president. A fresh perspective on a little-understood nation."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Journalists Fitzgerald and Gould do yeoman's labor in clearing the fog and laying bare American failures in Afghanistan in this deeply researched, cogently argued and enormously important book. The authors demonstrate how closely American actions are tied to past miscalculations—and how U.S. policy has placed Afghans and Americans in grave danger. Long at cultural crossroads, Afghanistan's location poised the country to serve as 'a fragile buffer' between rival empires. Great Britain's 1947 creation of an arbitrary and indefensible border between Afghanistan and the newly minted Pakistan 'from the Afghan point of view... has always been the problem,' but particularly after 9/11 American policymakers have paid scant attention to the concerns of Afghans, preferring to shoehorn an imagined Afghanistan into U.S. power paradigms. 'The United States is in a fight for its life, not because of [9/11]... but because of the way America responded.... That response was at once wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and... ineffective,' the authors argue, calling on the incoming president to make radical changes. 'Osama is not beating the United States.... The United States is beating itself, and beating itself badly.'"