Beginning by drawing parallels between the author's experiences at the British Embassy in Kabul from 2010 to 2013 and her grandfather's experiences of the same just after Indian Independence from 1948 to 1950, this book takes a thematic approach to analyse the role of Britain in Afghanistan since the conclusion of the Second World War. This examination uncovers a little-known story about how Britain's imperial withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late 1940s helped fuel the early Cold War, and why it has proved so difficult to `rebuild' Afghanistan recently.
At the heart of the book are the people and buildings of the former British Embassy, once a potent symbol of imperial might and now occupied by Pakistan to project its own regional ascendancy in the next chapter of Afghanistan's troubled story.
Susan Loughhead is a civil servant in the Department for International Development. From 2010 to 2013 she was seconded to NATO's headquarters in Afghanistan, and then led the department's governance reform work in the British Embassy.