Sandy Gall: Unveiling Afghanistan’s Visionary Statesman – Book Review


The grand strategic view of the twenty years war in Afghanistan has been provided by American journalists in the form of vertical depth and was short of historical context and it rarely covered historiographic events preceding  the inception of this military conflict that proved to be disastrous for the White House until the very end of the Kabul evacuation in August 2021. The recent publication of “Afghan Napoleon: The Life of Ahmad Shah Massoud,” by British journalist Sandy Gall, dedicated to Afghanistan’s illustrious statesman, is a remarkable undertaking that delves into the multifaceted intricacies of a nation devastated by war and ruined by its adverse geography. As a renowned author and embedded reporter in Afghanistan together with Massoud, in his latest book Sandy Gall is focused on the leadership qualities of the country’s napoleon with his propositions that were not speculative but purely resolute and practical.

Gall emphasizes that Massoud, as a national visionary leader and trustworthy ally of the west, promoted mainly those hard working and selfless motivated officers into the highest military echelons. Many of the local followers sought hope in his ongoing military operations and a better future as their country was occupied by the Soviet Forces.  With his green silk chapan thrown over his shoulders, Massoud inspired a great sense of leadership, moral among his comrades and was eager to defend people’s dignity. In the area of Shotul with about a thousand residents, Afghanistan’s Napoleon promoted a poor driver with the required qualities, into the rank of a commander.  As Gall points out, this poor man didn’t even have an army waistcoat with pockets to carry his day-to-day essentials. He tied his pajamas at the bottom and placed his essentials in them.  The values of leadership and hard work were always present in Massoud’s decision making practice encapsulated into a tremendous thirst for victory.  

As a military strategist, Massoud has shown extraordinary skills and innate abilities to undertake successful military operations and increase moral on the ground.

The profound portrait of Massoud, as a military leader and courageous statesman, provided in this masterpiece is 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. 

The extraordinary revelations of Afghanistan’s Massoud, stewarded by Gall, finely written and subtly thought through; are a genuine narrative that juxtapose assets of loyalty and unperceived betrayal in times of war, while emphasizing the statecraft and constant pro-western aspirations that were churning inside the soul of this great man that shaped during his tenure a magnificent national awakening across Afghanistan.  Gall has done an enormous service to the ongoing partnership and bilateral cooperation between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan. 

Peter Tase

Peter Tase is a freelance writer and journalist of International Relations, Latin American and Southern Caucasus current affairs. He is the author of America's first book published on the historical and archeological treasures of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan (Republic of Azerbaijan); has authored and published four books on the Foreign Policy and current economic – political events of the Government of Azerbaijan. Tase has written about International Relations for Eurasia Review Journal since June 2012.

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