The rulers of Afghanistan have one of the world's highest occupational mortality rates. In 20 years three kings have been assassinated and three have been forced hurriedly to abandon their thrones, while rival claimants and partisans have been frequently subjected to strangulation, stabbing, boiling in vegetable oil.

Most spectacular Afghan ruler was Reformer-King Amanullah, who got his throne after his father had been assassinated and his uncle ousted. Amanullah had bright ideas about westernizing his backward, picturesque kingdom, but unfortunately for him he also accepted millions of dollars in gifts from the British while playing ball with the Russians. In...

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