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Khyber Knights: An Account of Perilous Adventure and Forbidden Romance in the Depths of Mystic Asia

4.8 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1590480007
ISBN-10: 1590480007
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Editorial Reviews


"You have written a masterpiece! This is the book that will top all other equestrian travel books."
Jeremy James, Founding Member of the Long Riders’ Guild, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and author of Saddletramp.

"As its remarkable author frankly tells us, Khyber Knights is fictional in its framework but based upon hard fact and actual events. And what a tale it is. We can learn from this book, one of the greatest I have ever read. It is a book that one would not want  to live without."
John Rodenbeck, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, American University, Cairo.

"Khyber Knights is an epic account of one of the most extraordinary adventures ever taken on horseback."
Nick Smith, Explorers’ Club Editor and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

"Political analysts will immensely benefit from the author’s first hand experience and incisive study of a complex period in our nation’s history."
Dr. Maleelia Lodhi, Ambassador of Pakistan.

"I spent the last two days reading Khyber Knights. I couldn’t put the book down and now that I have read the last sentences I feel orphaned."
Arita Baaijens, Dutch explorer, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and author of Desert Songs.

"You emerge from the book shaken, albeit the wiser in many aspects of the hardiness of equestrian long distance riding and of human folly in general. Of course Jack London could do it in his time, but CuChullaine O'Reilly has shown us it can still be done in our day."
Bjarke Rink, author of The Centaur Legacy.

"Kipling would have loved Khyber Knights."
Derek O’Connor, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and author of The King’s Stranger.

"Khyber Knights is a real life thriller. Once you start the adventure you won’t be able to get off."
Dr. Amjad Hussain, author of The Taliban and Beyond.

"An important and courageous work of a time and place that has since melted into the past."
Alistair Carr, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and author of The Singing Bowl, Journeys through Inner Asia.

About the Author

Explorers’ Web described CuChullaine O'Reilly as “a living legend” and praised his adventure travel book, Khyber Knight, as “magical.”After extensive travels in Afghanistan, CuChullaine converted to Islam, journeyed to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, then made a daring solo equestrian journey across Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.The book describes how Boston University then engaged the author to teach journalism to mujahadeen opposing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It also reveals the oppressive regime of General Zia-ul-Haq, who had usurped power from Pakistan’s elected government.The newly released hardback second-edition concludes with an extensive examination of how events witnessed by the author led to the emergence of the Taliban, the ill-advised invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan. Amply illustrated, the text is accompanied by maps, documentation, and an extensive glossary.After completing the longest recorded horseback ride in Pakistan's history, as described in the book, CuChullaine specialized in equestrian exploration and historical research. He has documented how meat-eating horses were used in Shackleton’s second attempt to reach the South Pole, how a religious edict issued by the Pope against the Vikings established America’s modern taboo against eating horses and how the political victory of the suffragettes brought about the demise of the sidesaddle.A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers’ Club, he has published more than 300 travel books in eight languages and advised more than a hundred equestrian expeditions on every continent except Antarctica.He is now completing work on the Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, the most extensive study of mounted travel ever produced.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 658 pages
  • Publisher: The Long Riders' Guild Press (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590480007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590480007
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,657,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Noor Khan on July 4, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many people have praised Khyber Knights, including a professor of literature who complimented it, Long Riders who commented on its equestrian wisdom, explorers who admired the journeys and Pakistanis who remarked on the accuracy of the geographic and religious details.
I am the friend who traveled with Asadullah Khan/CuChullaine O’Reilly in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the 1970s and 80s. The character Beau Fontaine, who appears in Khyber Knights is based upon my life. I am also a Member of the Long Riders’ Guild and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, by default of being part of the Karakorum Equestrian Expedition which journeyed through Northern Pakistan in 1989.
Anyone who inspects Khyber Knights will see evidence of its accuracy, including Asadullah’s Peshawar resident’s permit, a newspaper clipping connected to his confinement in Pindi Prison, the Pakistani weapon’s license issued to Asadullah and the Pakistani army receipt provided at the sale of the horses we used in our journey.
Despite this proof there seem to be a few people who question the integrity of the book, for which reasons I know not why. One person incorrectly suggested that Asadullah had not made the journeys or survived the hardships described in Khyber Knights. I can confirm that the skeptics are wrong because I participated in these events.
Asadullah and I began our travels together in Afghanistan prior to the 1979 communist invasion. We met in Kabul and traveled north to Balkh. When Afghanistan was closed by civil war, our next adventure was an equestrian journey in Hunza. We then travelled to Peshawar.
There Asadullah became involved with the Afghan resistance.
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Format: Paperback
I have recently finished reading Khyber Knights.
I was born and raised in the Frontier province of Pakistan and I am a woman. I belong to Swabi District and lived in Peshawar where Mr. Asadullah Khan starts his knight�s escapades.
In spite of a sheltered life, in 25 years, even a Pathan woman in my circumstances acquires a consciousness of what �Pukhto� means. But Asadullah Khan has shown me in his book that there are still things I need to learn! Obviously, he has lived in close contact with the people of that region and seems to have become a thorough Pathan himself!
I made the same journey [by four wheel drive], which Mr. Asadullah Khan describes so enthrallingly from atop his horse.
His description of the terrain is very apt but that is only one aspect of his journey and his achievement. Truly, he has a very keen sense of observation, and an unusual awareness and perception of the people and their customs, their strengths and weaknesses and he has described it all with no attempt to make it look better or worse for the purpose of his book. Really, his insight is frighteningly accurate.
There is a wealth of information in this book for every single person who cares to call himself or herself a citizen of the NWFP and I recommend every citizen of the NWFP to read this book. He has taken the trouble to record his unbelievable and fantastic experiences and to make history for us. The author goes through the trouble of describing some exceedingly simple actions with so much detail and wonder that it will make you smile. Reading his book sharpened my own sense of awareness.
A very delightful aspect of the book is the constant companionship of Pasha, Pahlawan, Pajero and Pukhtoon.
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Format: Paperback
I spent the last two days reading Khyber Knights.

I couldn't put the book down and now that I have read the last sentences I feel orphaned. What an amazing account of even more amazing adventures.

Expecially the second part of the book captured me, the words were no longer words,

they were an avalanche, a tidal wave, a hurricane.

I read so fast that I must have missed sentences - I indulged in the raw beauty and horror of what was written. The book is not your usual superficial travelbook, no, it takes you to the heart of the matter. While we travel with CuChullaine on his splendid horse through the wild wild north of Pakistan we search our soul and we ask ourselves what risks we are prepared to take to find fulfilment and to live life to the full.

CuChullaine's love for horses brought tears into my eyes, the loyalty to his friends made me

wonder if it was madness or courage that made him do what he did, the descriptions

of nature gave my heart wings, the craving for freedom and the longing to follow

the wind obliterated the doubts I sometimes have about my nomadic life style.

Khyber Knights is a must read and I must warn you, after you've read the last pages you won't be able to read another book for a while.

Arita Baaijens, Dutch desert explorer and writer
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I'll admit that this book didn't grab me immediately the first time I picked it up. But I sure am glad I kept it on the nightstand for another go!
On my second try, I made a running start and successfully made it to what I consider the REAL beginning of the adventure. This is when, after a thwarted first attempt at a horse expedition, the author collapses from a near-fatal illness, is tortured by corrupt cops and sentenced to life in a disease-ridden Pakistani dungeon... And that's only the beginning of this richly written adventure story.
The author's ability to describe the tapestry of life in developing Pakistan and its wild frontier country lets the reader smell the sweat-stained bandits, taste the slimy gobs of sheep fat and shiver with cold at the world's highest-altitude polo game. Lets just say I'm glad that the author survived Pakistan to write this book--most people would have died a dozen times along the way! Anyway, I ended up carrying the book all over the house to read it at breakfast, in bed, while drying my hair... Pages 100-600 went by in a flash, as I related each more fabulous (and horrifying) adventure to my husband and friends.
Besides the "adventure story," this is also a timely book to read for people wanting more information about Islam and Pakistan/Afghan culture. How better to learn about Pakistani life and the Muslim "world view" than from a man who lived, worked, and worshipped with them and spoke the local language? The author's reporting seems very balanced, with both good and bad characters being represented.
Whether you read it simply for the adventure or because of an interest in Pakistani and/or Muslim culture, I highly recommend this book!
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