mugie1 wrote: My essay topic title is literally "Why did the British Army fail in the First and Second Afghan Wars"....I think the question is unhelpful to writing a good essay.
My reading is only on the First Afghan War so far, but I am yet to start reading around the Second War yet. From what you have suggested it seems best to argue that the Army failed in the First War to occupy Afghanistan, but in the Second War it was ultimately successful in the end apart from disasters such as Maiwand?
In my own view, I wouldn't exactly call the British invasion into Afghanistan in 1878-79-80 successful either. I think with the question "Why did the British Army fail in the First and Second Afghan Wars" I'd suggest positing the question where
did the British army fail in the Second Afghan war? Or, if you need to stick to the question literally, put forward a case for the 1878-80 campaign being a failure - perhaps in the way it saw a short term benefit (if that's the right word) but longer term problems, or even that they 'failed' as soon as Samuel Browne stepped into the Khyber Pass in November 1878.
The thing to do is read up on the campaign, decide what the British aims were, see if they achieved those aims (or partially achieved those aims) and draw some conclusion from it.
It's difficult to isolate the wars completely with a question such as this. The First war created a political situation that informed the following decades, and those in turn informed the Second war. You need to look into things such as the various Anglo-Afghan treaties that were agreed in that interim too (eg. the Ambalah Conference) as well as Anglo-Russian relations and the various positions of the 'forward policy' advocates and the 'masterly inactivity' advocates.
mugie1 wrote: Do you know of any online sources/ or journals that may be useful.
I don't really know of any online sources that would be useful for this question in particular - there's certainly no 'quick one-stop' read-up. My own site is here
, but does not present a narrative of the campaign. The Times archive
is very useful for contemporary news and views.
The best readily-available book, in my opinion, is Brian Robson's The Road to Kabul
. I'd also recommend Hanna's three volume The Second Afghan War
for a slightly critical contemporary (ish) account. There are also some good books that cover the wider history, though in less depth than the more dedicated focussed texts: Barthorp's Afghan Wars and the North-West Frontier 1839-1947
, Heathcote's The Afghan Wars 1839-1919
, and Fremont-Barnes' Essential Histories: The Anglo-Afghan Wars 1839-1919
If you can't find these books new, check out AbeBooks
All best - Garen