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The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan by [Ben Macintyre]
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The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 331 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While many know Sean Connery as "The Man Who Would Be King," few know 19th-century maverick Josiah Harlan, whose adventures probably inspired John Huston's version of Kipling's tale. But the research of British journalist Macintyre (The Englishman's Daughter) gives readers both Harlan's story and a thought-provoking perspective on the history of superpower intervention in Afghanistan. Born to a Pennsylvania Quaker family in 1799, the self-educated Harlan studied Greek and Roman history before becoming a Freemason and shipping out to Calcutta at age 21. Jilted by his fiancée, Harlan decided to seek his fortune on the Asian subcontinent. Calling himself a doctor, he briefly served as a military surgeon with the British army in the Burma War, before tales of Afghanistan fired his imagination. Disguised as a Muslim holy man, Harlan wheeled and dealed his way to Kabul, buying up mercenaries and bribing tribal leaders like a seasoned Afghan warlord. In 1838, Harlan was crowned king of the fierce Hazara people, although the British overthrow of the sitting Afghan ruler soon forced his departure. While mapping Harlan's adventures, Macintyre entertains readers with odd episodes (e.g., Harlan visiting an Afghan sauna fueled by burning night soil) and myriad ironies (e.g., Freemason Harlan trading secrets with an old Rosicrucian sorcerer in an Afghan cave). Harlan's story alone is fascinating, but its resonance with modern-day struggles—Harlan urging the British to try "fiscal diplomacy" (i.e., gold) instead of "invading and subjugating an unoffending people"—makes it compelling. Maps not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Review


"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 alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00699S9NQ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 28, 2008
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1697 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 377 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 331 ratings

About the author

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Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of A Spy Among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.

(Photo Credit: Justine Stoddart)

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
331 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

Roy New
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly excellent read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 30, 2017
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mark lees
5.0 out of 5 stars Value
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 18, 2019
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syd peru
4.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Would Be King
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 7, 2013
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raffals
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2016
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libba
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 18, 2016
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