By William Dalrymple
From the prizewinning historian, a masterly retelling of the 1st Afghan struggle, possibly the West's maximum imperial catastrophe within the East: a big parable of neocolonial ambition and cultural collision, folly, and hubris.
In the spring of 1839, the British invaded Afghanistan for the 1st time. Led by way of lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed shakos, approximately 20,000 British and East India corporation troops poured during the excessive mountain passes and re-established at the throne Shah Shuja ul-Mulk.
On the way in which in, the British confronted little resistance. yet after years of career, the Afghan humans rose in resolution to the decision for jihad and the rustic exploded into violent uprising. the 1st Anglo-Afghan conflict led to Britain's maximum army humiliation of the 19th century: a whole military of the then strongest country on the earth ambushed in retreat and totally routed via poorly outfitted tribesmen.
Return of a King is the definitive research of the 1st Afghan warfare, advised throughout the lives of unforgettable characters on either side and utilizing for the 1st time modern Afghan bills of the clash, together with an important new fabric in Russian, Urdu and Persian from information in South Asia. Prize-winning and bestselling historian William Dalrymple's masterful retelling of Britain's maximum imperial catastrophe is a robust and significant parable of colonial ambition and cultural collision, folly and hubris, for our times.
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Additional resources for Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
Because the blood haemorrhaged out, all the nobles named the moderate performed to him for which he used to be now claiming vengeance, ‘thus depriving Fatteh Khan of the top comfort the brain of a guy can own less than torment – a moral sense void of offence’. The Wazir bore the torture with no grievance, till, while his beard was once bring to a halt, he burst into tears. whilst either toes were hacked off, Atta Mohammad ultimately minimize Fatteh Khan’s throat. 32 As sooner than, with Shah Zaman’s homicide of Fatteh’s father Payindah Khan, it was once something to kill the manager of the Barakzais, yet fairly one other to around up the extended family. a number of of the brothers controlled to flee from the backyard get together and fought their manner out of Herat. others who have been nonetheless luxuriating in a hamam ‘heard what had occurred, fast ran from the steam room, and fled. They laid fingers on horses belonging to retailers within the coated bazaar, and rode off in the direction of Kandahar. on the citadel of Nad Ali, they joined the Wazir’s mom and resolved to avenge their brother’s execution. ’33 Fatteh Khan could have been killed, however the remainder of the extended family now declared struggle on Shah Mahmoud and Prince Kamran and commenced to motivate uprising throughout their dominions. because the riot unfold, invites from tribal elders started to arrive in Ludhiana for Shah Shuja, encouraging him to reclaim his throne and repair order. This used to be the instant Shuja were looking ahead to. With Wa’fa Begum’s advice, he controlled to obtain guns and recruit a ragtag collection of infantrymen of fortune, together with the yank mercenary ‘General’ Josiah Harlan. even though shadowed the entire means by means of a British intelligence officer, Captain Ross, and his assistants, them all disguised as Gurkhas, he made his approach to the Sindhi banking centre of Shikarpur. 34 There he secured a personal loan from the Hindu money-lenders. h He fast raised a physique of troops, then marched northwards and inside of weeks had controlled to recapture his previous base of Peshawar. His triumph used to be, even though, short-lived. Shuja’s haughty demeanour and insistence at the previous different types of courtroom etiquette alienated the tribal leaders of the realm, in order that sooner than lengthy ‘the untimely exhibition of his exalted notions of regal dignity resulted in a conflict among him and his inviters’. 35 At this severe second, a shell landed within the Shah’s gunpowder shop, environment off an important explosion which killed huge numbers of his troops; ‘a large plume of smoke rose into the sky’, remembered Shah Shuja, ‘and legs, palms, fingers and our bodies have been scattered in all instructions. The enemy pressed their assault, and we have been compelled to take safeguard within the mountains of the Khyber. ’36 all over again, Shuja needed to retreat. pushed again by means of the now more and more robust Barakzai brothers, he had no choice yet to come to the territories of the corporate, wasting extra of his troops in the course of a sandstorm on a reckless summer season crossing of the wasteland shales among Shikarpur and Jaisalmer. He additionally didn't pay off the bankers of Sindh, who vowed by no means to lend to him back. As Mirza ‘Ata placed it, quoting a Persian proverb, ‘those as soon as bitten by way of a snake worry even a twisted rope’.