December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Blogs & Sites We Read

Blog powered by Typepad

Search Site

  • Search Site



  • Counter

Become a Fan

Cat Quote

  • "He who dislikes the cat, was in his former life, a rat."

« Randy Pausch (1960-2008) (Sujatha) | Main | Friends Frenzy (Dean) »

July 31, 2008


Thanks for recommending the book. It was a fascinating read.An equally interesting account of the Anglo Russian rivalry in the region is Great Game by Peter Hopkirk.

I knew that you of all, would enjoy the book. I will look up the book by Hopkirk.

Having a deep curiousity about Afganistan from my childhood, I read it several years ago and agree that it is a superb book with an espcecially compelling look at the world not that long ago.

John H. Waller's eminently more readable "Beyond the Khyber Pass" chronicles the history of the Punjab, Afganistan and the Great Game leading to the First Anglo-Afghan War, which culminated in the total and absolute rout of the British army. While Harlan gets adequate mention in this book, he comes across as someone on the sidelines, a kibitzer in Ranjit Singh's court. Waller has Alexander Burnes at the forefront of his history, he being both the hero and villain of the British East India Company's meddlings in the region. Waller also makes clear that the true hero of the misadventure was Mohan Lal, Burne's intermediary / secretary / agent / dubash. I am gratified that Mohan Lal has found his way into Wikipedia finally; I could find precious little about him when I first read Waller. As I suggested in an e-mailed rant to Ruchira I grow tired of white people glorifying the white histories of Asia, and of India in particular. The sad consequence of this continuing trend is that the truly interesting personal stories of people like Mohan Lal remain untold. Burnes, deservedly, is the central figure in many books written about this war, including a recent novel "The Mulberry Empire" by Philip Hensher, and may have been be the model for "Flashman and the Great Game"; but no one yet has had the imagination to give Mohan Lal his due in like manner. And while Macintyre includes Mohan Lal's 1846 biography of Dost Mohammed in his bibliography, the SOLE mention he makes in his book is : "Mohan Lal, the most astute native chronicler of the period, noted several ruses used by fraudulent practitioners to hoodwink the credulous." (p.143) I guess you can't beat the natives at this game, even if you are recognized as the most astute Indian chronicler of the period.
It is worth reading the article in Wikipedia, especially the quote at the end of the penultimate paragraph. Russians and Americans alike are deaf to the lessons of history.

nice review. this book reminds me of hindi movie 'Guide', with its unusually witty, humorous and ironic twists and turns of its story plot.

nice review. this book reminds me of hindi movie 'Guide', with its unusually witty, humorous and ironic twists and turns of its story plot.

The comments to this entry are closed.