In the mid-nineteenth century, the British and Russian Empires played the 'Great Game,' a rivalry for supremacy in Central Asia. To create a 'buffer zone' in Afghanistan, between India (the 'jewel in the crown') and Russian territory, Britain launched the First Anglo-Afghan War in 1838. Initial success, including the imposition of a puppet regime supported by too few troops (a situation that has great resonance today), was followed by complete disaster in 1842, with 4,500 soldiers and 12,000 civilian camp followers massacred by disaffected Afghans. Only one Briton is known to have survived. This compelling story of imperial misadventure is told by Jules Stewart, a former Reuters journalist with experience in the region and a specialist in North-West Frontier history, and provides important parallels with our current commitments in this graveyard of ambitions.