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202 of 203 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Kipling's better short stories, September 19, 2009
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This review is from: The Man Who Would Be King (Kindle Edition)
This is a story about two con men in British Imperial India who cook up a scheme to make themselves kings in Afghanistan. One of Kipling's better short stories, it was admired by writers as disparate as J.M. Barrie and H.G. Wells. It suffers a little from having had a zillion imitators in the intervening century or so, and like a lot of Kipling's works, there's an undertone of paternalistic imperialism that modern readers may find grating, but it isn't like he's showing the British in a positive light either -- this is Kipling at his best, and at his best he was too good a writer to let anyone, including the British, off the hook.

Read this if you're trying to figure out whether or not you like Kipling's works that are aimed for adults -- it's very different in tone from, say, The Jungle Book or _Just So Stories_, which were written for children. If you like this, I recommend you grab Plain Tales from the Hills, his first collection of stories set in British India; it should also be available online for free.

If you're interested in the historical background for this story, it was at least partially inspired by a real individual, an American named Josiah Harlan.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 17, 2012 7:21:00 PM PDT
P. Jensen says:
The one thing I personally findtruly grating are those who think modern readers will find an undertone of paternalistic imperialism to be in any way grating.

Posted on Jun 17, 2012 7:22:04 PM PDT
P. Jensen says:
The one thing I personally findtruly grating are those who think modern readers will find an undertone of paternalistic imperialism to be in any way grating.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2012 8:31:21 AM PDT
Alan Glick says:
Agreed. Must every discussion of prior ages make mention of how they fail to live up to our current, most perfect standards? This omnipresent attitude of today is far more paternalistic than anything seen in previous ages.

Posted on Jun 11, 2014 9:45:20 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2014 9:46:09 AM PDT
J. Barrett says:
BUYERS BEWARE: I think the reviewer "T.S." and some others here (or possibly Amazon itself) is conflating the 1888 fictional story by Rudyard Kipling with the true historical account written by Rob MacIntyre in 2004. While the former certainly was inspired by the real-life subject of the latter book, the two works are very different despite the close similarity of titles.
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T. S.
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Location: United States

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