The Afghanistan over which the Taliban took control in 1996 was a failed state. While the decade-long conflict with the Soviet Union contributed to its demise, other long and intermediate-range factors exacerbated the circumstances under which the state collapsed. This course will provide an overview of the history of Afghanistan that preceded and precipitated the 1979 Soviet invasion. It will examine the domestic political, economic, and social conditions and role of foreign intruders that shaped contemporary Afghan perspectives and existence. Please join us to unravel the story of how this profoundly traditional, historically rooted society found itself at the junction of left-wing radicalism and conservative Islam that provoked protracted wars with one, then another global superpower.