Afghan Napoleon

Sandy Gall / Introduction by Rory Stewart

‘Sandy Gall’s knowledge of the jihad is encyclopaedic. He was the first well-known journalist to make the dangerous journey into occupied Afghanistan and bring the human cost of this terrible war to our TV screens. To produce such a book at the age of 93 deserves admiration.’

‘An extraordinary story’
The Telegraph

‘This book is essential reading for those who want an insider’s understanding of the Afghan civil war.’
Literary Review

‘Gall’s lovingly woven storytelling are a valuable addition to our understanding of Afghanistan.’
History Today

‘…an outstanding contribution, of unparalleled proportions, it reveals many valuable societal aspects about Afghanistan, that are certainly rare gems to historians, authors and historiographers that are studying the contemporary events of Afghanistan.’
Eurasia Review


‘A remarkable and emotionally affecting portrait’
John Simpson

‘I can think of no one better than the legendary foreign correspondent Sandy Gall to tell the compelling story of Ahmed Shah Massoud’s extraordinary life and death.’
Jeremy Bowen, BBC’s Middle East Editor

Afghan Napoleon offers an overdue portrait of one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century.’
Tamim Ansary, author of The Invention of Yesterday

‘The unputdownable story of an authentic Afghan hero by one of the greatest chroniclers’
Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British Ambassador to Afghanistan

‘authoritative, beautifully written and deeply reported biography.’
Peter Bergen, author of The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden

‘a remarkable book, both a coruscating memoir by Sandy Gall and a revealing insight into a guerrilla leader.’
Hew Strachan

‘Gall’s book is fascinating for its ability to draw on never before seen sources such as Massoud’s personal diaries and his own experiences working as a correspondent in Afghanistan. The personal insights about Massoud from Gall’s own interactions with him, words from Massoud’s own diaries, and interviews with friends and family paint an intimate picture of Massoud’s family life and character.’
Oxford Middle East Review



When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the poorly equipped and organised resistance groups were no competition for the superpower. The exception was Ahmad Shah Massoud. This now-legendary military strategist and resistance leader unified the mujahideen forces in north-eastern Afghanistan and led a series of decisive victories against the Russian army.

The veteran journalist Sandy Gall reported from Afghanistan at length, spending weeks at time with Massoud during key moments in the conflict. He now draws on his own memories, exclusive excerpts from Massoud’s diaries, and interviews with the commander’s closest allies to provide an intimate portrait of the charismatic guerrilla leader.

Gall’s insights cast fascinating new light on Massoud’s personal military struggles, and his analysis exposes the United States’ lack of foresight in not backing Massoud – who warned the world about the threat posed by Al-Qaeda and was assassinated just two days before 9/11. This authoritative biography consolidates Massoud’s reputation as a national hero.

SANDY GALL is a British journalist, author, and former ITN newscaster. His journalism career started nearly seventy years ago on the Aberdeen Press and Journal, before he joined Reuters and then ITN, covering wars and revolutions. He has written four books about Afghanistan and made three documentaries about the Soviet occupation, two of which were nominated for BAFTA awards.

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