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Lady Sale's Afghanistan: an Indomitable Victorian Lady's Account of the Retreat from Kabul During the First Afghan War [Paperback]

Florentia Sale
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 July 2009
The hard road back to India

There are few books that can truly be said to be unique, but this is one. Afghanistan has been a battleground since man has occupied its hostile landscape and others have sought to control it as the corridor between great continents. The British-conquerors of the Indian sub-continent-have found themselves fruitlessly bleeding into its dry soil on several occasions. The first was in the mid-nineteenth century as they attempted to secure an unpopular puppet ruler on its throne. Error compounded error as Elphinstone, the British army's incompetent commander, compromised his strategic position in the capital and then, to extricate himself, instigated a forced retreat in winter as hostile tribesmen pressed in on all sides. History knows that this resulted in the annihilation of the entire army. Only a handful of people survived. One of these was Lady Sale, the formidable wife of Robert Sale whose brigade was fighting its own war locked inside Jellalabad. Incredibly Lady Sale kept a daily diary of her experience of the entire appalling catastrophe. It illuminates the events of the retreat uniquely and provides an inspiring view of a woman rising to the demands of extreme adversity that has no parallels.

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Lady Sale's Afghanistan: an Indomitable Victorian Lady's Account of the Retreat from Kabul During the First Afghan War + Travels into Bokhara: A Voyage Up the Indus to Lahore and a Journey to Cabool, Tartary and Persia + The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: LEONAUR (15 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846777313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846777318
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 13.7 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars re missing pages 13 Dec 2010
The review mentioning missing pages is actually rather mis-leading. I thought it meant the book, in actual fact it seems to be just that Lady Sale appears not to have had time to fill in her diary every single day, which was probably a hard thing to do when one is worried about staying alive rather than stopping to write anyway. I didn't find it took away any of the enjoyment of the book written by somebody who survived through the war. If you do enjoy the true survival stories such as this I would also recommend another two in the Leonaur Women in Conflict series that I have read "Memsahib and the Mutiny" and "Ladies of Lucknow" which I also found to be very rivetting, amazing stories.

Added postscript-I notice the previous reviewer has now ammended the part about missing pages which makes mine seem rather nonsensical in mentioning it, but heigh-ho leastways they have now given a more accurate point to a very enjoyable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a Good History Lesson 20 Jun 2013
By Okeglen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A well researched book written with flair difficult to put down. Very sad outcome and a lesson for todays politicians. Lessons have not been learned
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed chance 4 July 2012
By ben
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is a pity that the publisher has not got someone to do a map of Kabul at the time, so that you can follow where the fighting is. As a result I could not get a sense of what was happening and place names meant nothing. Lady Sale uses a lot of words no longer in use, such as "ottah", "sirdar" and "bhoosa", which I suspect are her version of local words, but an explanation would have helped. A bit of time and money spent putting it into a more readable form would have made it a brilliant read rather than a struggle.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book 19 Nov 2010
Very interesting book although it is in effect a 'diary' book and can go on a bit, I therefore found myself skipping many pages.
Extremely interesting if you are or have read other books on the historical aspects of Afghanistan. Particularly interesting if you are in Kabul and gives you a first hand account of the events of that period.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting Bob's Fighting Lady 27 April 2012
By George W. Lynn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a fascinating eye witness, day by day account of one of the great military disasters in history. Britain decided to indulge in a little regime change in Afghanistan in 1840, propping up a weak vascillating Afghan king with a large amount of money and a fair number of English and Indian troops. and then they decided to cut back on the financial support. they still might have gotten away with it, but sent in a sickly antiquated general to lead the troops who proceeded to squander every possible advantage only to agree to a retreat through the Afghan mountains in the dead of winter. in the end, only one man made it out of Afghanistan on his own. most of the rest were cut to ribbons. Lady Sale herself was eventually taken prisoner and held for months after the army's destruction. The real pity is that Lady Sale wasn't in charge herself.

Lady Sale, wife of General Fighting Bob Sale and one of the real heros of the campaign having been posted to Jallabad before the fall of Kabul, was there and saw it all, with a withering crystal clear eye. get a blow by blow acccount of the whole affair up to the retreat through the snow out of Kabul and an incredibly intelligent analysis of just why things fell apart. Really one of the most riveting eye witness accounts of any war I've ever read. however, if you don't already have a firm grasp of the various personalities and events, you'll find this pretty rough sledding, particularly early on. but if you do have some knowledge of the events, this book is a real gem.

Highly recommended for any and all Flashman fans. Lady Sale is one of the main characters in George MacDonald Fraser's first Flashman book and clearly one of the primary sources for the events in the book. For anyone who's ever wondered how England conquered and held India, I give you Lady Sale.
5.0 out of 5 stars A tough lady. 26 April 2013
By rd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
About the aftermath of the 1st Afghan war and the plight suffered by captured British Women. A book about endurance, faith and love.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting 23 Jun 2013
By jim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Considering the Western involvement in modern Afghanistan this is amazingly apt. A wonderful account from a formidable lady; read it.
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