The most recommended books about Afghanistan

Who picked these books? Meet our 75 experts.

75 authors created a book list connected to Afghanistan, and here are their favorite Afghanistan books.
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Book cover of A Soldier to Santiago: Finding Peace on the Warrior Path

Sanjiva Wijesinha Author Of Strangers on the Camino: Father, Son - and Holy Trail

From my list on the Camino de Santiago from someone who walked it.

Who am I?

The pilgrim’s journey to the ancient Catholic shrine at Santiago de Compostela had fascinated me ever since I first read about it. For centuries, pilgrims had made this arduous journey, the majority of them on foot, along a trail in northern Spain that stretched for over five hundred miles. Many had written of the transformation they underwent as a result of making this journey. Even though I am not a Catholic, I decided to undertake the journey myself in 2011 in the company of my son – and then decided to write about what I had experienced and learned as a result of my journey. Having written my book I became interested in learning what others who had done this journey had to say about the Camino. What was their experience, what perspective did they offer, were they also changed (as I was) by undertaking this “pilgrimage”?

Sanjiva's book list on the Camino de Santiago from someone who walked it

Sanjiva Wijesinha Why did Sanjiva love this book?

As a military veteran myself, Brad Genereaux’s story deeply touched me on many levels.

He talks about the three things a veteran loses when he or she leaves the military – a sense of Purpose, a supportive community, and a feeling of self-worth. Serving in uniform, soldiers give their all for their country, yet once their service is over many find themselves inadequately supported and unable to settle back into civilian life.

A Soldier to Santiago is the honest story of a stiff, formal, no-nonsense Senior Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy - someone who’d spent years building walls inside himself to compartmentalise the violence and tragedies that had been part of his 22-year military life. Once he left the service he found himself descending into a dark depressive hole without purpose, identity, or mission in life. 

In his own words, he discovered “I fit in….nowhere”.

Brad’s pilgrimage along…

By Brad Genereux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Soldier to Santiago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Has life passed you by? And you fit in—nowhere?

"I gave the best years of my life to a cause—to a belief that proved false. I loved living on the edge. The thrill of standing the watch. Rushing into harm’s way on behalf of my country. For over 22 years and with pride, I represented America by wearing the cloth of the nation. When my service was all over? Life had passed me by and . . . I fit in — nowhere." — Senior Chief Petty Officer Brad Genereux

Is forgiveness and peace within the grasp of those who…

Book cover of The West Point Atlas of American Wars: Vol. 1, 1689-1900

James Kelly Morningstar Author Of Patton's Way: A Radical Theory of War

From my list on military history for people who think.

Who am I?

I have a passion for this theme because I served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for more than twenty years. I saw the effect of both thinking and non-thinking commanders first-hand in places like the inter-German border during the Cold War, Iraq in combat during the first Gulf War, and Bosnia in ‘operations other than war.’ My experience drove me to continue my military studies resulting in four degrees, including my PhD and my current occupation as a professor of military history. My search for understanding war and military decision-making reflects a desire to better instruct the future leaders among my college students and readers.

James' book list on military history for people who think

James Kelly Morningstar Why did James love this book?

I probably have referred to this work more than any other in my personal library of several thousand books. This original hardback covers more than thirteen wars in hundreds of detailed maps. Later hardback and online editions have added all major conflicts from the Korean War to the recent war in Afghanistan. Patton once said that terrain is the skeleton upon which we flesh out our plans and operations. I believe no historian can understand battles and campaigns without first understanding the terrain. These maps make it possible to see the restraints and constraints imposed by terrain and give the possibility for the trained eye to retrospectively measure the coup de oeil in their subject’s eye. All military history begins with a map and the maps begin here. 

By Vincent J. Esposito (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The West Point Atlas of American Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents maps with corresponding narratives covering every campaign in American wars from 1689 to the Korean War

Book cover of The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree

Jefferson Smith Author Of Strange Places

From my list on indie fantasy books.

Who am I?

As host of ImmerseOrDie, I've tested over 600 indie novels so far, searching for books that can hold me in their spell for at least 40 minutes. Unfortunately, self-publishing is rife with the quirks and gaffs that burst such glamours: bad spelling, bad formatting, ludicrous dialogue... Even allowing three failures before bailing, only 9% survived. And reading those to completion whittled the herd still further. So here then are the surviving 1%. A glittering few, plucked from the muck so that you don't have to. I don't promise you'll love them, but I do make one guarantee: they do not suck. And in the Swamps of Indie, that is high praise indeed.

Jefferson's book list on indie fantasy books

Jefferson Smith Why did Jefferson love this book?

Most fantasies are set in a quasi-medieval landscape, but Hunt has chosen a deliciously different canvas: the Wild West. His hero is Ross, the estranged son of a famous fantasy author. When dear old dad is murdered, Ross grudgingly attends the funeral organized by the fantasy geeks and role-playing nerds who loved the old man's books. That much, he can handle. But being told that the fantastical world described in those books is real? No way! That disbelief is shattered, though, when Ross himself crosses over and is quickly drawn into the hunt for his father's killer in a nightmare world of gunslingers and monsters where the rules make no sense.

And to make matters worse: he hasn't read the books.

By S. A. Hunt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From award-winning author S. A. Hunt comes a blockbuster fantasy tale inspired by such old-school fantasy classics as Stephen King's The Dark Tower, C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

After coming home from a stint in Afghanistan, veteran Ross Brigham learns that his father has passed away. Dearly departed Dad was a famous fantasy novelist, and the 300 fans that show up for the funeral demand that Ross finish E. R. Brigham's long-running magnum opus.

Ross and two of the author's devotees investigate his untimely death and discover that he might have been…

Book cover of Night with a SEAL

Dee S. Knight Author Of Naval Maneuvers

From my list on erotic romance with a military theme.

Who am I?

Passionate military members are my jam, and I feel pretty confident writing about them. First, I write erotic romance myself, giving me something of an inside view of what makes a good erotic romance with a military vibe. Second, I read a lot of them. Even if the story is a mite slow, you’ve got that alpha military guy who’s going to pull the story out. Or at least, that’s the way it’s worked in every military erotic romance I’ve read. Last, as I mentioned earlier, I was raised in the Navy. I’ve seen lots of men in uniform and the sight never fails to give me a thrill. I think I recognize that passion when I see it.

Dee's book list on erotic romance with a military theme

Dee S. Knight Why did Dee love this book?

Another SEAL. Are you detecting a pattern here? What can I say? They’re strong in mind and body. True alpha men. This is an action novel when Jon Rudnick comes home to the woman he had a one-night stand with just before shipping off for Afghanistan. She’s in danger and who’s better to ride into the rescue. This book portrays the Navy a little more realistically by showing the government red tape to screw things up. As a Navy brat, I can vouch for the fact that the military is not always the easiest to deal with. Still, who doesn’t love it, and the steamy romances inspired by it?

By Cat Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Night with a SEAL as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Navy SEAL. A one-night stand. The woman he can't get off his mind...
Ten years of dedication to the Navy taught SEAL Jon Rudnick one thing—he’s not afraid to risk life and limb for his country. But when navigating military red tape begins to present more challenges than the enemy it makes Jon question his future. So does Alison Cressly, the woman who doesn’t do one-night stands or SEALs but who broke both rules with Jon the eve of his deployment to Afghanistan. He can’t get her out of his head—not while away and not now that he’s back.…

Book cover of Cowboy Boots for Christmas: (Cowboy Not Included)

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Author Of The Scarred Santa

From Lee's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Keeper of the family fire Seanachie Widow Teacher Mother

Lee's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Why did Lee love this book?

Finn O’Donnell is a hero, an Afghanistan veteran, and an Army sniper who buys a ranch in Texas and plans to settle down for a peaceful life. 

That changes when his former spotter, Callie Brewster, arrives seeking a place to stay, seeking safety for herself and her young nephew.

Both suffer some PTSD, which I’ve written about. It’s a subject very meaningful to me because one of my grandfathers, a Missouri farm boy, served in the Pacific during World War II, primarily in the Philippines, and came home with PTSD, although it was not yet called such. His experiences affected the rest of his life, and so reading another work with characters working through the same caught my heart.

I rejoiced for the characters, wept with them, and became very involved in their story. I wished it could continue and not end.

By Carolyn Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cowboy Boots for Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown introduces readers to the world of Burnt Boot, Texas, in this beloved holiday cowboy romance.

All he wants for Christmas is peace and quiet…

After two tours in Afghanistan, retired Army sniper Finn O'Donnell believes his new ranch outside the sleepy little town of Burnt Boot, Texas, is the perfect place for an undisturbed holiday season. But before this brave cowboy can settle in, an old friend shows up looking for protection and a place where nobody knows her name.

But that's going to take a miracle…

Callie Brewster is a lady in…

Book cover of Road Trip

S.C. Megale Author Of This Is Not a Love Scene: A Novel

From my list on with some serious ass-kicking.

Who am I?

I am an author who believes stories must first entertain and thrill if they are ever to instill something powerful and unforgettable. While I would love to sit here and compile books that laud the values I believe in, that’s just not how it works. Action is the best way to convey theme – and these examples celebrate the storytelling techniques I stand by. I love ass-kickers, in literature and in life. And I hope one day to be remembered as one of them. 

S.C.'s book list on with some serious ass-kicking

S.C. Megale Why did S.C. love this book?

I love how Road Trip hooks you right away with its concept: a road for sale? What kind of road? How much? And what could be on that road? You might not be ready for it. I can assure you there is ample action on this highway, however, that could give new meaning to "road rage." Like all of Keener’s work, this book is original and well-written. You could even say it’s ass-kicking.

By David Keener,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Road Trip as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He Bought a Magic Road

Rocco Fitch had a grand plan for his life…but it went up in smoke the day he was disabled in Afghanistan. Now he’s unemployed, his wife has left him, and the bank is about to take his house. But he can still spare some change when he encounters a fellow vet begging in the street. Except the strange man won’t accept the money unless Rocco agrees he’s buying a road.

The next morning, the beggar is AWOL, there’s a magic highway crossing Rocco’s backyard that nobody else can see, and demonic-looking riders are traveling his…

Book cover of A Thousand Splendid Suns

David R. George III Author Of Crucible: McCoy - Provenance of Shadows

From my list on opening readers to new worlds without leaving Earth.

Who am I?

As a frequent writer of science fiction, I focus not on real or imagined science, on aliens or other worlds, but on the impacts those things have on individuals, groups, and societies. Similarly, as a reader, I enjoy visiting places, cultures, and ideas with which I am unfamiliar, particularly when unveiled with elevated artistic expression. In my writing, often in the Star Trek universe, I attempt to avoid feeding the perception that media-tie-in writing is less-than, instead working to weave complex tales exploring the human condition. I don’t know if my reading tastes follow from my writing, or if the converse is true, but the two go hand in hand.

David's book list on opening readers to new worlds without leaving Earth

David R. George III Why did David love this book?

Khaled Hosseini won acclaim for his debut novel, The Kite Runner, and with good reason. Opening up a place and culture I knew virtually nothing about, Mr. Hosseini’s story takes place almost entirely in Afghanistan. The same is true of this follow-up novel, which adds to the complexity by featuring a female protagonist, a significant complication in that part of the world. I was drawn in by the eloquence of his language and held fast by the compelling story.

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Thousand Splendid Suns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A suspenseful epic' Daily Telegraph

'A triumph' Financial Times

'Heartbreaking' Mail on Sunday

'Deeply moving' Sunday Times

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

Book cover of Living the Confidence Code: Real Girls. Real Stories. Real Confidence.

Catherine Thimmesh Author Of Girls Solve Everything: Stories of Women Entrepreneurs Building a Better World

From my list on you’ve-got-this-girl young readers.

Who am I?

I’m someone who believes the accomplishments of women have been glossed over for far too long. I'm passionate about sharing the stories of women and girls that the world at large still tends to ignore. It’s critical to share these stores and to give face and voice to women. Social entrepreneurship, the topic of my recent book Girls Solve Everything, has fascinated me for some time:  creative problem solving, tackling problems in our communities and the world, creating a business to find and facilitate the solution. Representation matters. I’m determined to write about and share the stories of strong, innovative, creative women and girls. Our future depends on them.

Catherine's book list on you’ve-got-this-girl young readers

Catherine Thimmesh Why did Catherine love this book?

It’s one thing to tell young girls (and women...and men and boys) to “be” more confident. To have confidence in themselves and their abilities. Easy to say. Harder to do. Living the Confidence Code bridges that divide in extraordinary fashion. I love how this is a compilation of real girls sharing their real stories of risk-taking, successes, and failures – and, most importantly to me – sharing their thought processes on why they did a certain thing or reacted a certain way. A very engaging and informative book. Empty platitudes are gone and what remains are relatable stories providing multiple templates for finding – and building – your own inner confidence. 

By Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, Jillellyn Riley

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living the Confidence Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?


New from the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling authors of The Confidence Code for Girls!

The best way to understand confidence is to see it in action. That's why bestselling authors Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, and JillEllyn Riley have collected 30 true stories of real girls, pursuing their passions, struggling and stumbling, but along the way figuring out how to build their own special brand of confidence.

From Bali to Brazil, South Africa to Seattle, Australia to Afghanistan, these girls took risks, doubted themselves, and sometimes failed. But…

Book cover of The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland

Steven Nightingale Author Of The Hot Climate of Promises and Grace: 64 Stories

From my list on by or about world-changing women.

Who am I?

The first person I ever trusted in the world was a high-school English teacher, a woman named Margaret Muth. She plucked me out of a trash-can, literally and figuratively. When I was seventeen years old, she told me: “Books will teach you. They will help you. Choose books the way you choose the risks you take in life: do it patiently, thoughtfully. Then give yourself to them with a whole heart. This is how you learn.” This is one sentence, from one teacher, given to a teenager of decidedly crude and primitive material—one sentence that changed his whole life for the better. Bless her. 

Steven's book list on by or about world-changing women

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

An extraordinary book by an extraordinary woman. Saira Shah recounts her journeys in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the context of her upbringing in a family with deep roots in the region. She is on the ground during the rise of the Taliban and the fight against the Russian occupation, and the story is hair-raising, enlightening, revelatory, informed, and insightfully detailed. Ms. Shah went on to make the celebrated documentary Beneath the Veil, risking her life daily to shoot video during the first phase of Taliban control. Unforgettable, and indispensable for understanding Afghanistan.

By Saira Shah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Storyteller's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagine that a jewel-like garden overlooking Kabul is your ancestral home. Imagine a kitchen made fragrant with saffron strands and cardamom pods simmering in an authentic pilau. Now remember that you were born in London, your family in exile, and that you have never seen Afghanistan in peacetime.

These are but the starting points of Saira Shah’s memoir, by turns inevitably exotic and unavoidably heartbreaking, in which she explores her family’s history in and out of Afghanistan. As an accomplished journalist and documentarian–her film Beneath the Veil unflinchingly depicted for CNN viewers the humiliations forced on women under Taliban rule–Shah…

Book cover of The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Author Of Blood Washing Blood: Afghanistan's Hundred-Year War

From my list on the War in Afghanistan.

Who am I?

Phil Halton has worked in conflict zones around the world as an officer in the Canadian Army and as a security consultant and has extensive experience in Afghanistan. He is the author of two novels and a history. He holds a Master's Degree in Defence Studies from Royal Military College of Canada, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College. 

Phil's book list on the War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Why did Phil love this book?

Borovik was a very well-known journalist in Russia, whose work gives an inside view of the Soviet military machine in Afghanistan. Far from being the all-powerful monolith that it is often portrayed as, Borovik shows the human aspect of war with unblinking candor. Although it is a journalistic account of what he saw and experienced, his writing elevates the subject to the level of literature. The misery and shattered idealism of the defeated Soviet soldiers resonates today.

By Artyom Borovik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a record of the author's experiences during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. He lived and travelled with the Russian soldiers, went into combat with them and shared the terror, helplessness and despair of waging war in a foreign land against an unseen enemy for unclear purposes. The book also explains how and why Russian troops went into Afghanistan. It describes the drug problems, criminal behaviour and psychiatric disorders prevalent among veterans and concludes with an account of the Russian withdrawal and its aftermath.