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Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan…
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Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan (original 2013; edition 2014)

by William Dalrymple

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4411836,093 (4.15)43
Member:skak
Title:Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
Authors:William Dalrymple
Info:Bloomsbury Paperbacks (2014), Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:History

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Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42 by William Dalrymple (2013)

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» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Page-turner. Didn't expect to be so gripped, given this could reasonably be classed as "military history". ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Nov 8, 2018 |
Good story, but this book dragged for me...I had to really work at finishing it--a new experience for me as I have enjoyed all of the author's previous works (and even made a special trip to central India to visit some of the sites of White Rajah. Maybe it was the long quotes from original material; it was undoubtedly exciting for Dalrymple to find them, but I felt they weighed down the storyline and flow.

For this reason, I would recommend reading the last chapter first, where Dalrymple puts the story in context and explains the work and research that resulted in the book. Had I done so, I believe I would have been more appreciative of the long quoted passages and detail.

Nevertheless, if you're a Great Game historian, or a historical wars buff, you will want to read this work that fills in the Afghan side of the British-Afghan 19C wars with all their appalling atrocities, horrors and arrogant behaviour (witnessed and suffered by both parties). ( )
1 vote pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
In 1839 an expeditionary force entered Afghanistan, deposed the ruling family and placed their own choice of king on the throne. Over the next three years that force was harassed, attacked and eventually driven out of the country at devastating loss of life and humiliation.

The invading force was British and their motivation was to do with the relationship between Afghanistan and Russia. However the local tribes disliked the British more than they disliked each other and chose to work together to restore some form of independence for their country. Starved of supplies and facing a harsh winter the British choose to retreat over the Khyber Pass, some were fortunate to be captured and held as hostages, others were less fortunate. Eventually the British regrouped and invaded from India to wreak their revenge but the first Afghan War was a lesson for the British Empire.

Fast forward nearly two centuries and Afghanistan is still an area fought over. The Russians invaded in the 1980s and were driven out by the western-sponsored Taliban, now the Taliban are the enemy and the intertribal warfare still continues. The roots and the background to the modern conflict are evident in the events described in this book.

William Dalrymple has produced a meticulously researched account of the first Afghan War. He has used source material from all protagonists to great effect, no-one is a hero and some terrible decisions were made. ( )
1 vote pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Has ever such a big historical work read past so quickly? Easy readable writing style makde the bizarre well-researched facts blossom in my mind. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Apr 11, 2017 |
Great book As is often the case, it could have used more maps.
One wonders, do any politicians read ? ( )
1 vote busterrll | Jan 21, 2017 |
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Epigraph
Great kings have always recorded the events of their reigns, some writing themselves, with their natural gifts, but most entrusting the writing to historians and writers, so that these compositions would remain as a memorial on the pages of passing time. Thus it occurred to this humble petitoner at the court of the Merciful God, Sultan Shuja al-Mulk Shah Durrani, to record the battles and events of his reign, so that the historians of Khurasan should know the true account of these events, and thoughtful readers take heed from these examples. - Shah Shuja, Waqiat-i-Shah Shuja
Dedication
To my beloved Adam And also to the four people who did most to encourage in me a love of history: Veronica Telfer Fr. Edward Corbould OSB Lucy Warrack and Elsie Gibbs (North Berwick, 10 June 1922 - Bristol, 4 February 2012)
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The year 1809 opened auspiciously for Shah Shuja ul-Mulk.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307958280, Hardcover)

From the prizewinning historian, a masterly retelling of the first Afghan war, perhaps the West's greatest imperial disaster in the East: an important parable of neocolonial ambition and cultural collision, folly, and hubris.

With access to previously untapped primary sources, William Dalrymple gives us the most immediate and comprehensive account we have had of the spectacular first battle for Afghanistan. We see the British invade the remote kingdom in 1839, reestablishing Shah Shuja on the throne—this time as their puppet—and ushering in a period of conflict still unresolved today. We see the Afghan people rise to the call for jihad against the foreign occupiers in 1841, poorly equipped tribesmen routing an entire army of what was then the most powerful military nation in the world: more than eighteen thousand British troops retreated from Kabul through treacherous mountain passes, and only one man made it through to Jellalabad. Dalrymple illuminates the similarities between what the British faced in Afghanistan nearly two centuries ago, and what NATO faces there today. The Return of a King is both the definitive analysis of the first Afghan war and a work of stunning topicality.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:42 -0400)

Examines the mid-19th-century Afghan war as a tragic result of neocolonial ambition, cultural collision and hubris, drawing on previously untapped primary sources to explore such topics as the reestablishment of a puppet-leader Shah, the conflict's brutal human toll and the similarities between the war and present-day challenges.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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