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The return of a king: the battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42

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Pub. Date:
2013.
Language:
English
Description

From William Dalrymple--award-winning historian, journalist and travel writer--a masterly retelling of what was perhaps the West's greatest imperial disaster in the East, and an important parable of neocolonial ambition, folly and hubris that has striking relevance to our own time. With access to newly discovered primary sources from archives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and India--including a series of previously untranslated Afghan epic poems and biographies--the author gives us the most immediate and comprehensive account yet of the spectacular first battle for Afghanistan: the British invasion of the remote kingdom in 1839. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed helmets, and facing little resistance, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the mountain passes from India into Afghanistan in order to reestablish Shah Shuja ul-Mulk on the throne, and as their puppet. But after little more than two years, the Afghans rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into rebellion. This First Anglo-Afghan War ended with an entire army of what was then the most powerful military nation in the world ambushed and destroyed in snowbound mountain passes by simply equipped Afghan tribesmen. Only one British man made it through.But Dalrymple takes us beyond the bare outline of this infamous battle, and with penetrating, balanced insight illuminates the uncanny similarities between the West's first disastrous entanglement with Afghanistan and the situation today. He delineates the straightforward facts: Shah Shuja and President Hamid Karzai share the same tribal heritage; the Shah's principal opponents were the Ghilzai tribe, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban's foot soldiers; the same cities garrisoned by the British are today garrisoned by foreign troops, attacked from the same rings of hills and high passes from which the British faced attack. Dalryrmple also makes clear the byzantine complexity of Afghanistan's age-old tribal rivalries, the stranglehold they have on the politics of the nation and the ways in which they ensnared both the British in the nineteenth century and NATO forces in the twenty-first. Informed by the author's decades-long firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan, and superbly shaped by his hallmark gifts as a narrative historian and his singular eye for the evocation of place and culture, The Return of a King is both the definitive analysis of the First Anglo-Afghan War and a work of stunning topicality.

From the Hardcover edition.
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ISBN:
9780307958280
9780307958297
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID15166721-6612-e7a3-e9b5-614e0a0fa5ec
Grouping Titlereturn of a king the battle for afghanistan 1839 42
Grouping Authorwilliam dalrymple
Grouping Categorybook
Grouping LanguageEnglish (eng)
Last Grouping Update2021-02-26 02:27:51AM
Last Indexed2021-02-26 02:54:38AM
Novelist Primary ISBN9780307958280

Solr Details

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South Natomas
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South Natomas
display_description

From William Dalrymple--award-winning historian, journalist and travel writer--a masterly retelling of what was perhaps the West's greatest imperial disaster in the East, and an important parable of neocolonial ambition, folly and hubris that has striking relevance to our own time.

With access to newly discovered primary sources from archives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and India--including a series of previously untranslated Afghan epic poems and biographies--the author gives us the most immediate and comprehensive account yet of the spectacular first battle for Afghanistan: the British invasion of the remote kingdom in 1839. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed helmets, and facing little resistance, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the mountain passes from India into Afghanistan in order to reestablish Shah Shuja ul-Mulk on the throne, and as their puppet. But after little more than two years, the Afghans rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into rebellion. This First Anglo-Afghan War ended with an entire army of what was then the most powerful military nation in the world ambushed and destroyed in snowbound mountain passes by simply equipped Afghan tribesmen. Only one British man made it through.

But Dalrymple takes us beyond the bare outline of this infamous battle, and with penetrating, balanced insight illuminates the uncanny similarities between the West's first disastrous entanglement with Afghanistan and the situation today. He delineates the straightforward facts: Shah Shuja and President Hamid Karzai share the same tribal heritage; the Shah's principal opponents were the Ghilzai tribe, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban's foot soldiers; the same cities garrisoned by the British are today garrisoned by foreign troops, attacked from the same rings of hills and high passes from which the British faced attack. Dalryrmple also makes clear the byzantine complexity of Afghanistan's age-old tribal rivalries, the stranglehold they have on the politics of the nation and the ways in which they ensnared both the British in the nineteenth century and NATO forces in the twenty-first.

Informed by the author's decades-long firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan, and superbly shaped by his hallmark gifts as a narrative historian and his singular eye for the evocation of place and culture, The Return of a King is both the definitive analysis of the First Anglo-Afghan War and a work of stunning topicality.



From the Hardcover edition.
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subject_facetAfghanistan -- History -- British Intervention, 1838-1842
Afghanistan -- History, Military -- 19th century
British -- Afghanistan -- History -- 19th century
Shāh Shujāʻ, -- Amir of Afghanistan, -- 1780?-1842
title_displayThe return of a king : the battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42
title_fullReturn of a King The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42
The return of a king : the battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42 / William Dalrymple
title_shortThe return of a king
title_subthe battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42
topic_facetBritish
History
History, Military
Military
Nonfiction
Shāh Shujāʻ