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Josiah the Great: The True Story of the Man Who Would Be King Hardcover – May 17, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for A Foreign Field:'One of the books of the year' Sunday Times'A tale of immense stature. Stirring, ambitious and profound, this is storytelling at its very best' Stuart Wavell, Sunday Times'Macintyre writes beautifully; his book is at once a great romance, a war story, a social history' Susannah Herbert, Sunday Telegraph'A simple and touching tale of self-sacrificing courage and love in war...I loved it' Lyn Macdonald, The Times

About the Author

Ben Macintyre is the author of Forgotten Fatherland, The Napoleon of Crime and A Foreign Field. He is the former parliamentary sketch-writer for The Times, and has been the paper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He now lives in London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; 1st edition (May 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007151063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007151066
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.8 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

BEN MACINTYRE is writer-at-large and associate editor of the Times of London. He is the author of Agent Zigzag, The Man Who Would Be King, The Englishman's Daughter, The Napoleon of Crime, and Forgotten Fatherland. He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Kate Muir, and their three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daria Kelleher on August 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
This well written book is a great addition to any historical research library. It's also fun to read. Unlike some dry historical non-fiction, it's interesting and involves the reader in the life of Josiah Harlan, a 19th century Quaker from Pennsylvania who set off for Afghanistan and kept detailed journals of his sometimes nutty adventures. It's hard to decided if he was a shrewd judge of character or a lucky lunatic in his dealings with the Afghan Monarchs and chieftans. The author based the book on his discoveries of Harlans lost journals so Harlan is quoted often. Some of the quotes are pretty funny. In one incident where Harlan and his group of Moslem travelers are disgusted by some local cuisine, Harlan-at great expense-buys a sheep so his much loved dog can have some decent food. Harlan writes,'We all partook of the feast, Mahomed Ali sarcastically remarking:"We luxuriate tonight by the good fortune of a dog."'
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Monks on April 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In a review of The Man Who Would Be King I commented that the idea of a westerner establishing himself as king of a remote part of 19th century Afghanistan was slightly implausible - at least, until a reader suggested that I take a look at Josiah the Great. While Josiah Harlan didn't exactly have a long, influential and prosperous reign as the "Prince of Ghor" in the Hazarajat, the story of the American Quaker and merchant seaman who became in turn a surgeon to the East India Company's army, a military advisor, commander and provincial governor under Kings of Lahore and Afghanistan and finally a Colonel of US cavalry in the Civil War is fascinating. Ben Macintyre paints a clear, vivid picture of the times and even if there is occasionally a lack of corroborating evidence for Harlan's claims (or independent viewpoints), his account of Harlan's adventures and supreme self-confidence is fascinating and entertaining reading. Any reader with an interest in Afghanistan/Central Asia or old-school Great Game adventures should find Josiah the Great of interest.

Thanks to Amazon reviewer "Dizzyworm" for the heads-up - this definitely helped pass a few hours in a part of the world not too far from the scene of Harlan's adventures and helped me see Kipling's work in a slightly different light.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on November 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is one of the more interesting books I've read recently. Ben Macintyre is one of those guys who can find interesting subjects to write about, which no one has in the past written about. In this case he chronicles the life and times of Josiah Harlan, a Quaker from rural Pennsylvania who wound up briefly being a Prince in Afghanistan, in between working as everything from a military surgeon to a governor of a province in the Sikh empire, an adviser to an exiled Afghan king, and of course a naturalist and diplomat. When the Brits expelled him from Kabul (just before their own demise in Afghanistan) he returned to America, eventually raising a regiment in the U.S. Civil War. He didn't ever fight in a battle, being invalided home ill, but he survived another decade, dying in San Francisco in 1871.

Frankly this is one of the more fascinating biographies I've read in recent years, well-written and fantastic in topic. Harlan, with his dog Dash, trek across some of the most remote corners of the world, essentially bluffing their way past a number of obstacles and gaining considerable influence in the process. Highly recommended for history buffs interested in reading about an interesting footnote to the history of Afghanistan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Mole on April 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ben McIntyre writes history as if it were a novel. Well researched and engaging stories about fascinating characters and events. Well worth the effort to find and read this book.
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