RETURN OF A KING | William Dalrymple

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RETURN OF A KING | William Dalrymple

Postby Garen » 04 Feb 2013 21:30

Just to flag up BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week last week was William Dalrymple's Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan. You can listen to it here - but hurry, episode 1 (of 5) is only available until Tuesday 5 Feb, then they disappear at the rate of one a day until Saturday!

Best - Garen
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Re: Return of a King

Postby Mark » 04 Feb 2013 23:14

Thanks for the heads-up, Garen! :)

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Re: Return of a King

Postby Garen » 05 Feb 2013 22:45

I was sufficiently captivated by that severe abridgement to buy the book, so have just put an order in for it. Actually, the thing that really tipped the decision for me was Dalrymple's appearance on Start The Week.

I'm currently up to the First Afghan War chapters of Peter Hopkirk's The Great Game - On Secret Service in High Asia; highly recommended.
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Re: Return of a King

Postby Les Waring » 07 Feb 2013 22:58

Garen wrote:

I'm currently up to the First Afghan War chapters of Peter Hopkirk's The Great Game - On Secret Service in High Asia; highly recommended.


I agree with Garen that Hopkins is an excellent survey of the whole 'Great Game' story. It brings out how a false impression, that the Russians had the serious intention and capability of invading India, can have so many unfortunate consequences - the Afghan Wars being only the most obvious. The Sikh Wars, conquest of Scind, North West Frontier campaigns and even the Mutiny/Rebellion of 1858-9 also had their roots in this illusion; the first three even being largely responsible for the final partition and creation of Pakistan. If only the British had never gone beyond the the Sutlej, many of the present problems facing the world might have been avoided, or at least have taken a very different course.
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Re: Return of a King

Postby Liz » 15 Feb 2013 10:36

Garen

Thanks for highlighting this book. I was sold as soon as you said William Dalrymple + 1st Afghan War. Waiting for my copy to arrive now...

Liz
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Re: Return of a King

Postby Peter » 16 Feb 2013 04:32

Liz,

Not a book review per se, but have you seen (Review supplement, pp 1 & 6, in) Friday's Fin Review:

"Game Over in Afghanistan.

"The British retreat in 1842 has striking parallels with the current occupation.

writes William Dalrymple"?

Regards,

Edit: I've now read the article. It is an extract from the book.
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Re: Return of a King

Postby Liz » 20 Feb 2013 09:36

Peter wrote:have you seen (Review supplement, pp 1 & 6, in) Friday's Fin Review:
"Game Over in Afghanistan: The British retreat in 1842 has striking parallels with the current occupation, writes William Dalrymple"?


Haven't seen it but shall hunt it down :)
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Re: RETURN OF A KING | William Dalrymple

Postby Peter » 20 Feb 2013 12:37

If you can't find a copy, PM me your email address.

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Re: Article on "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan

Postby Mark » 27 Mar 2013 22:54

I have looked at this book during one of my frequent visits to my favorite bookshop. Very tempted to buy it and would be interested to hear the opinion of anyone who has read the book.

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Re: Article on "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan

Postby mike snook » 28 Mar 2013 01:30

Hi Mark

Bought it a couple of weeks ago but haven't picked it up yet. Handsomely produced and weighty, it's a good bet on the author's name alone. Dalrymple is good. Perhaps not that much help to you, but if I get round to reading it any time soon I'll send more.

As ever

M
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Re: Article on "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan

Postby Mark » 28 Mar 2013 01:39

Cheers, Mike! My reading has been back in the Napoleonic period of late but I think it might be time to fast forward to the Victorian era soon. Next time I pop into Waterstones I will no doubt pick up a copy.

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Re: Article on "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan

Postby Liz » 30 Mar 2013 22:23

I'm a couple of chapters in: an excellent read so far, has answered lots of questions I had on this subject despite reading other books on it, many non-English sources including Shah Shuja's autiobiography... Am wishing I had been able to find this in hardback, it is definitely a keeper.
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Re: Article on "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan

Postby Mark » 01 Apr 2013 12:38

Thanks, Liz! Sounds like a must-have book for the personal library.

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Re: RETURN OF A KING | William Dalrymple

Postby The Scorer » 17 May 2013 13:35

I have just finished reading this, and it's an excellent book.

It goes into much more detail than I have seen before about what happened before,during and after the invasion. It begins in 1809 with Shah Sujah on the throne for the first time, and follows the story through his fall, the rule of Dost Mohammed, the invasion itself, the occupation and what happened during and after the retreat. Despite the length (just over 500 pages in hardback) and the amount of detail, though, it's a very easy book to read. The use of the poetry of the time is very good, and does illustrate what happened.

There are also several parallels between the 1840s and now. It quotes the chilling comment by Merab Khan of Qalat to Alexander Burnes in 1839: "You have brought an army into the country", he said. "But how do you propose to take it out again?"

I have read a number of books about the various Afghanistan wars, and enjoyed them all (including, of course "Flashman" by George MacDonald Frazer). This is, though, the best one, and I would recommend it to anyone.

:)
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