Want to know what books Thomas Barfield recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Thomas Barfield's favorite book recommendations of all time.
The true story of Josiah Harlan, a Pennsylvania Quaker and the first American ever to enter Afghanistan, has never been told before. Soldier, spy, doctor, naturalist, traveler and writer, Josiah Harlan wanted to be a king, with all the imperialist hubris of his times. In an amazing twenty-year journey around Central Asia, he was variously employed as surgeon to the Maharaja of Punjab, revolutionary agent for the exiled Afghan King, and then commander-in-chief of the Afghan armies. In 1838, he set... more
Thomas BarfieldThe title is taken from the Kipling novel of the same name, in which a Westerner goes to somewhere like Afghanistan and is made king. The idea for the story came at least in part from Josiah Harlan, the first American in Afghanistan. He served as a general in the pay of the Afghan amir Dost Muhammad in the 1830s until the British invaded Afghanistan and expelled him. He was very anti the British... (Source)
Thomas BarfieldHassan Kakar was one of the first professionally trained historians in Afghanistan. He got his degree from SOAS in London in the late 1960s and was also one of the first to give equal weight to both British and Afghan sources. I have followed his work for close to 40 years. It is a synthesis that manages to show how both internal and external dynamics have shaped the course of Afghan history.... (Source)
Thomas BarfieldBuzkashi means, literally, goat-grabbing. It is a very famous game played in North Afghanistan which is a bit like polo played with a dead goat, or rather a calf because the Afghans say a goat is too fragile and the game ends too fast! In this type of polo a scrum of horsemen battle to grab the carcass and break free with it to win the round. It is a very exciting game because there are no rules,... (Source)
"The Muqaddimah," often translated as "Introduction" or "Prolegomenon," is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), this monumental work established the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including the philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The first complete English translation, by the eminent Islamicist and interpreter of Arabic literature Franz Rosenthal, was published in three volumes in 1958 as part of the Bollingen Series and received immediate... more
Mark ZuckerbergIt's a history of the world written by an intellectual who lived in the 1300s. It focuses on how society and culture flow, including the creation of cities, politics, commerce and science. While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it's still very interesting to see what was understood at this time and the overall worldview when it's all considered... (Source)
Robert IrwinHe spends about two and a half years writing the first draught of the Muqaddimah, which he will work on for the rest of his life. It’s one hell of a great work. It’s intended as a prolegomenon – an introduction to what he is going to write – and the complexity starts there, really, because he started out with one idea of what he was going to write about…. And then he broadens and broadens (Source)
Thomas BarfieldIbn Khaldun began writing the book in 1375 so it’s certainly the oldest on my list. It is also a unique work from that period in its attempt to analyse the context of history by understanding how societies organise themselves and how different modes of organisation can affect the interactions amongst people. (Source)
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