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B. D. Hopkins examines the evolution of the modern Afghan state in the shadow of Britain's imperial presence in South Asia during the first half of the nineteenth century. He challenges the staid assumptions that the Afghans were little more than pawns in a larger Anglo-Russian imperial rivalry known as the 'Great Game' and instead, argues that the way the East India Company related to the Afghan kingdom was definitional of both, and explains many of the unresolved issues central to the region today. Considering the underlying causes of the failure of British policies and imagination with regards to Afghanistan and its consequences for the region and its inhabitants, Hopkins focuses in particular on the pressures shaping British strategic policies and vision beyond its north west frontier. Rather than being fearful of the far-removed forces of the Tsar, they were more concerned with indigenous competitors for power on the sub-continent.