Posted by: Christian | November 6, 2009

A book that will be good

Well, I’m pretty sure it will be a book.

I was checking out new dissertations in the Proquest listings today as part of my effort to catalog all the ones that deal with Afghanistan. I found this:

The Coils of the Anaconda: America’s First Conventional Battle in Afghanistan by Lester W. Grau, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2009 , 592 pages.

The summary of the abstract reads:

The battle was clumsy, but decisive. It was won by the combined efforts of American Armed Forces, Afghan ground forces, Canadian Light Infantry, and special forces from a variety of nations. It was a pick-up fight that started off badly, but training, good will, and professionalism pulled the operation together. It was Al Qaeda’s last conventional fight and America’s first conventional fight in Afghanistan. It broke the back of Al Qaeda and hastened their departure from the country. Lessons learned in air-ground coordination were successfully applied during the invasion of Iraq. As with any military operation or, indeed, human endeavor, Anaconda had its warts and problems.

Operation Anaconda generated several books, most in support of an agenda. What makes this dissertation different is that it: covers the entire battle instead of the first three days; provides a more-balanced view of air power and ground power in the battle; provides a historic view of Afghanistan before the events of 9/11; provides a good enemy picture; identifies the culminating event of the battle, and provides an analysis of what went right and what went wrong.

My basic problem with military historians is that they have a poor level of knowledge of Afghanistan history and society. Lester Grau does not have these problems.

But… good news and bad news. Bad news first: the page on Proquest says: “At the request of the author, this graduate work is not available for purchase.” The good news is that this almost always means that a book is on its way. I’m expecting something that is definitely worth a read. Lester Grau is not exactly a freshman on the matter of Afghanistan.

You can download three of his previous books:

The Soviet-Afghan War: how a superpower fought and lost. Edited by Lester W Grau and Michael A Gress. Available on Scribd.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan. By the Russian General Staff. Translated and edited by Lester W. Grau. Download PDF.

The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War. By Ali Ahmad Jalali and Lester W. Grau. Download PDF.


  1. I’m very impressed you managed to find a pdf copy of The Other Side of the Mountain, it took me luck and quite literally months of searching.


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