Book Review:Return of a King

This post is in continuation of my book review series (see here).

William Dalrymple is one of my favorite authors and his latest book on the First Anglo-Afgan war “The Return of a King” underscores again why he is considered as a master of his craft.

The book covers the events leading upto the First Ango-Afghan war, the massacre of the British Army (which included thousands of Indians) and subsequently the revenge inflicted on the Afghans by the ominous sounding Army of Retribution.

The book is extremely well researched and lucidly written.Its full of interesting factoids and anecdotes.For example, did you know that Ahmad Shah Durrani (who fought the third battle of Panipat against the Marathas) was invited to India by Tipu Sultan from Mysore?

There are quite a few tidbits of Raja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Sikhs.In a strange irony of events, he was the one who captured Peshawar from the Afghans.When the British annexed the Sikh empire, Peshawar came along and hence is now a part of Pakistan.

If there ever was a book which proves “History repeats itself”, this is it.There are disturbing parallels between the Anglo wars of yesteryears and what is happening in Afghanistan today.If history is a guide, it would be difficult for Karzai to hold on to power after the Americans leave.

Would strongly recommend this book to readers who love history.

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