The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000 Year History of Human Conflict, Culture, and Connection

The Invention of Yesterday is a global history of the human journey from the Stone Age to the Virtual Age. It is built on the premise that the history of the world is a story we’re telling one another; and since there is no single circle of storytellers, there are many “world-histories”. This book looks at how various great world-historical narratives formed, and how they’ve interacted, and how they’ve meshed to form bigger stories, and how all the stories intertwining are, themselves, on the way to forming a single big story of our human journey on this planet.

The Invention of Yesterday traces the path that led us from those times when we existed on this planet only as countless, disparate, virtually autonomous bands of relatives to the current day, when we are one intertangled spaghetti of human that seems to be merging with our machines In this roam through history, we see how landscapes gave birth to cultures in our primeval past, how simple inventions such as stirrups and trousers affected the rise and fall of empires, how Prophet Mohammed’s teachings contributed to the voyages of Christopher Columbus, how the Mongol eruption of the 13th century improved the lot of peasants in England… and much more. Every history of the world is really somebody’s world-historical narrative. The Invention of Yesterday is a world historical narrative in which that somebody is the global “we” now emerging on the planet.

(Coming in October 2019 from Public Affairs Press)

Road Trips: Becoming an American in the vapor trail of The Sixties

Road Trips is a memoir wrapped around three journeys the author took between 1969 and 1976, each of which began and ended in Portland, Oregon, known to itself then (and still) as the hippest place on Earth. The author had arrived only recently from Afghanistan where he was born and grew up. In America, inspired by the millions of his generation who were calling themselves “freaks”, he dropped out of a society he had never been part of in the first place to help build the world that would soon be replacing civilization as we know it, or so they thought. Set against the backdrop of the Sixties turning into the Seventies, this is the story of a collective dream from which the dreamers all woke up alone. Get Road Trips here.

Games Without Rules, The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Ansary presents the epic, tragic (and yet sometimes strangely comical) two-century story of Afghanistan from the inside looking out.  He poses the question at the heart of the Afghan riddle:  why does every great power going into Afghanistan make exactly the same mistakes as the previous great power going into Afghanistan, even though each one comes to grief in pretty much the same way and for pretty much the same reasons? It is not the first time this question has been posed; but Ansary’s vivid account is the first time it has been answered.


 Destiny Disrupted, A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

Disrupted Destiny

World history is the story of how we got to where we are today. The shape of that story necessarily depends, therefore, on who the “we” is, and where these tellers of the story are situated. Most readers are familiar with an arc of world history that runs from Egypt and Mesopotamia through Greece and Rome, to the Dark Ages, the Renaissance and Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the rise of nation states. But what if one supposes that the core of the world is the Islamic heartland–the territory stretching from Istanbul to the Indus River? How does “world history” look from there? What are the events that got “us” to “here”?  Ansary’s book presents a masterful and compulsively readable alternative story of the world–a dopelganger to conventional Eurocentric history.

The Widow’s Husband

A Historical Novel

The time is 1840; the place, the tiny village of Char Bagh, about 100 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan.  A mysterious old man has just come over the mountain peak  and parked himself on the slope above the village. He won’t come all the way down. He won’t accept food.  He talks utter nonsense or else he spouts great wisdom, it’s hard to tell which. Where is he from, what does he want?  Is he a vagrant, an idiot, an advance scout for a band of marauders–or is he perhaps a malang, a man so intoxicated by God he has left all ordinary concerns behind?  Should you drive him away or try to get him to settle in your village?  The fate of the village depends on the answer to these questions facing village headman Ibrahim, his fragile, unbalanced wife Soraya, his widowed sister-in-law Khadija, and the town’s tough-guy Ghulam Dastagir. Little do any of them know that an even stranger collection of folks have just arrived in Kabul, from a distant land called “England”, with intentions that will disrupt Char Bagh even more than the mysterious malang.

West of Kabul, East of New York

Ansary published this critically acclaimed memoir  in the wake of the events of 9/11.   In this chronicle of a bicultural life,  Ansary uses the intimate lens of his own experiences to explore the issues that divide the Islamic east and the secular West.  As a long-time resident of the United States who was born and raised in Afghanistan and in Islam,  Ansary is well placed to straddle a cultural fault line in the earth. He takes you into the land of his birth with a storyteller’s skill, placing the first decade of the 21st century in the sweep of history.

Children’s Books

Cool Collections

A six book series about collectible items–books, rocks, insects, dolls, model cars, and stamps–that artfully uses information about collecting to ntroduc two vital critical thinking skills” classifying and categorizing.

Holiday Histories

A 12-book series about American holidays and the histories they commemorate. The books use holidays as a window for exploring major topics in world history–at a level that first- and second- graders can absorb! The books include Memorial Day (Civil War) Veteran’s Day (World War I) Labor Day (the Industrial Revolution); Martin Luther King’s Day (Civil Rights Movement) Thanksgiving (immigration to the United States from colonial times through the 20th century) and others

Native Americans

A eight book series at the 5th grade level about Native American people in North America. Each book looks at the culture and history of Native Americans in a different geographical area. The books begin with an examination of the environment, then a look at the cultural features of the indigenous people of that area in pre-Columbian times, and then recaps the history of Native American life after the influx of European immigration and ends with a look at modern times.

Adventures Plus

Six books in a series of educational comic books designed by Ansary: each book is a graphic story with embedded activities that promote reading, thinking, and language arts skills tested at the appropriate grade levels.  The philosophy of publisher Tom Williamson: “Let’s give kids something that will be so much fun, they won’t even know they’re learning anything until they ace the test.

Just Imagine

Sixteen high-interest low-readability anthologies. Each is a collection of articles written at 4th grade level that presents sensational, intriguing, mysterious, or downright zany information that might grab the interest of kids in their early teens.  The collections include: Legendary Creatures (such as dragons, giants, sea serpents, and the like); Creepy Creatures (sharks, snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc) Amazing Creatures (ants, cats, dolphins, and bats, for example) Vanished (unexplained disappearances such as those of David Lang,  the Mary Celeste, the Roanoke Colony, and more) as well as Unexplained Events, Histories Mysteries, Unexplained Events, Crimebusters, Super Sleuths, six others.

Gulmamadak the Great

An Afghan folktale retold for English readers: Gulmamadak wants to be considered a grown-up, but his wife and all the people in his village insist on treating him like a child. Finally, he has his wife pack him a big cookie and goes off in search of an adventure to prove his mettle–and he finds one.

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