Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – August 1, 2008
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"An excellent collection with particularly thorough notes."--Professor M. Mackey, Ph.D., California State University, Sacramento
"A lovely little book."--James Dahl, West Georgia College
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865 1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907. His books include The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
The story itself is witty and exciting, driven by the raw prose and longing for exotic adventure characteristic of Kipling. At the same time, this short tale is remarkable as a summary of imperialism and its problems. The questionable motives and courses of actions of the imperialists are exposed, yet at the same time they are shown to reflect human nature more than ideology or political purpose. The ease with which a small number of people with superior technology can subjugate much larger numbers is also demonstrated in a non-sentimental fashion (it is certainly not a politically correct story by present standards). Finally, the ending emphasizes the impossibility of maintaining authority in the long run under such circumstances - technological knowledge must be revealed to maintain order, responsibility must be shared with intermediaries, and propaganda will eventually be appropriated for subversive purposes. If only historians could be as brief and straightforward as Kipling in recognizing these simple facts about how imperialism came about and how it was doomed to failure.
So began his adventures. After a failed stint in the Indian army--an action for which the Quakers excommunicated him--Harlan met Shujah al-Mulk (1792-1842), an Afghan king exiled to India in 1809 after just six years on the throne. Harlan offered a deal: he would raise an army, subdue Kabul, and restore the kingdom. In exchange, he would become vizier, the equivalent of prime minister. The deal struck, Harlan began recruiting native troops, using the U.S. flag as his own. In 1827, he and his army began their long march. But he soon had second thoughts about his army's loyalty. He picked a trusted team, paid severance to the others, and launched his Plan B: dressed as a dervish, he made his way to Kabul, arriving in 1828 just as an epidemic of cholera ravaged the city. Years passed and Harlan changed his allegiance to Shujah's rival, King Dost Muhammad Khan (1793-1863), to whom he became aide-de-camp. This Afghan king granted Harlan's wish for power. The itinerant Pennsylvania Quaker and stilted lover became prince of Ghor, today a province in central Afghanistan.
Harlan's story is riveting.Read more ›
But here we have a real fish out of water story, and a fascinating one at that: an American Quaker leading, or joining, armies through Afghanistan and elsewhere in the name of, variously: the sitting ruler of Afghanistan, the deposed predecessor, his Sikh neighbor, the British Empire, and arguably himself as "Prince of Ghor."
The tale is fascinating because it's so poorly-known, despite the fact that Kipling's fiction, which I understand to be inspired by Harlan and other adventurers of the time, is so well-known.
Undoubtedly, Harlan's own financial misfortune and quiet death contributed to the obscurity of the narrative, but Macintyre does a great job of weaving the scraps together, and keeping the story's pace. An interesting read, and a bit of history which has earned its place in Central Asian lore.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kipling may have been a racist, and that's probably important to know when reading "The Man Who Would Be King". Read morePublished 1 month ago by HH
This book was chockablock full of typos & formatting errors. I usually like this author's books but was disappointed b/c of the typos. Do not buy it until they fix them! Read morePublished 4 months ago by elizabeth k steel
This will be a big surprise for readers of Mr. Kipling's Jungle Book. This is far and away his best book, in my opinion.Published 5 months ago by BillyD