The Man Who Would Be King

The Man Who Would Be King : The First American in Afghanistan

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The riveting story that inspired Kipling's classic tale and a John Huston movieThe true story of Josiah Harlan, a Pennsylvania Quaker and the first American ever to enter Afghanistan, has never been told before. Soldier, spy, doctor, naturalist, traveler and writer, Josiah Harlan wanted to be a king, with all the imperialist hubris of his times. In an amazing twenty-year journey around Central Asia, he was variously employed as surgeon to the Maharaja of Punjab, revolutionary agent for the exiled Afghan King, and then commander-in-chief of the Afghan armies. In 1838, he set off in the footsteps of Alexander the Great across the Hindu Kush and forged his own kingdom, only to be ejected from Afghanistan a few months later by the invading British.Using a trove of newly-discovered documents, Harlan's own unpublished journals, and with a revised Preface detailing the unexpected discovery of Harlan's descendents, Ben Macintyre tells the astonishing tale of the man who would be the first and last American king.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 137.2 x 208.3 x 30.5mm | 317.52g
  • Farrar Straus Giroux
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0374529574
  • 9780374529574
  • 511,247

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Praise for "The Man Who Would Be King": "One of the most remarkable discoveries in the history of biography . . . It is a far more adventurous tale than the one invented by Kipling: its twists and tensions and dangerous escapades make it more like a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson or John Buchan or Rider Haggard . . . It's a 'ripping yarn' as we used to say, and Macintyre is an excellent narrator, describing with skill a spirited and fast-moving life." --David Gilmour, "The New York Review of Books" "Macintyre unearths a trove of unseen documents...and imparts a tactile understanding of Afghanistan's cultural impulses. B+." --Raymond Fiore, "Entertainment Weekly" "Macintyre has been able to piece together this never-before-told story by a great archival find...[He] also tells with unflagging élan...There is so much tragedy, cruelty, and general badness afoot in this book that I wonder how to explain how really funny it is. But it is." --Katherine A. Powers, "The Bost

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About Ben Macintyre

Ben Macintyre is the author of three books, most recently "The Englishman's Daughter "(FSG, 2002). A senior writer and columnist for "The Times" of London, he was the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris, and Washington D.C. He now lives in London.

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