The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was one of the defining wars of the 1980s (along with the Iran-Iraq War), and saw the over-confident Soviets intervene to support a Marxism government in Kabul. A short intervention turned into an increasingly costly decade long war that ended with a humiliating Soviet withdrawal after inflicted serious damage on the Soviet economy. Much of Afghanistan was left devastated and vulnerable to the Taliban, who emerged as the victors in the inevitable civil that followed the Soviet retreat.
These photos make it clear just how big a mismatch there was in equipment between the Soviets and the Mujahedeen during this conflict - on the one side we have photos of tanks, BMP armoured vehicles, helicopter gunships and massive rockets, on the other mainly machine guns and a few SAM missiles.
Most of the photographs of the Mujahedeen are of groups posing for the camera, sometimes on a destroyed Soviet vehicle or aircraft (normally a western journalist's camera). The Soviet pictures are more varied, with some of equipment, some group or individual photos clearly taken as mementoes by the subjects, and a few combat pictures.
The pictures are supported by a good brief history of the war and by useful captions that focus well on the actual topic of the pictures.
The last chapter provides a brief overview of the years since the Soviet withdrawal, with a look at the ex-Soviet tanks used by the Taliban, the American-led campaign to oust them and finally the ex-Soviet tanks used by the current Afghan army.
This is a superb collection of photos illustrating one of the key battles of the Cold War and a conflict whose consequences are still with us.
1 - Cold War Stand Off
2 - The Bear Wakes
3 - Kabul's Armour
4 - Mujahedeen - God's Warriors
5 - Tank Killers
6 - The Convoy War
7 - Death over the Mountains
8 - Moscow's Last Stand
9 - Propping up Kabul
10 - The Taliban's Tanks
Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military