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Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: The History Press; 1st Edition edition (20 April 2006)
Jules Stewart has spent most of his professional life in journalism, reporting from more than 30 countries. He spent 20 years as a journalist in Madrid. After joining Reuters, Stewart re-located to London in 1987, now his permanent home. Stewart has published nine books to date on a diverse range of subjects, from the Anglo-Afghan wars to a history of Madrid. He is currently working on a history of New York in the 1930s.
About the Author
JULES STEWART is a freelance journalist, formerly with Reuters. He is the author of The Khyber Rifles and lives in London.
It is hard not to read this book without Rudyard Kipling's Kim in mind. Indeed, some of the Indian characters who "spied" for the Raj and whose exploits are so thoroughly researched and absorbingly told in this book were the basis of Kim and his supposedly fictional antics. Of course the derring-do is rather less pronounced than in the fictional account, and so it should be. For the most part the Pundits' travels were long, arduous and solitary. What really comes across is the real hardships suffered by the so-called Pundits who mapped out the Himalayas for the British in the 19th Century often for very little reward, and how their British masters barely gave them credit or even, in some cases, just recompense.
Written by a journalist, this short book (185 pages) is a very readable and is an enlightening account of some truly remarkable Indian characters, all of them completely forgotten by history despite their real contribution to Raj geopolitics. For me, thought, it is thin on historical context, being very perfunctory on the Great Game and the geopolitics of the era. Providing more explanation of the threats and "enemies" of the time would have helped me understand what was at stake and would have certainly heightened the narrative of the truly extraordinary men whose story is told here.
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A lovely little book, with delightful tales of some ill-rewarded people acting in subjugation to the British Empire. I've read snippets about many of the individuals mentioned in the book in other Great Game books, but this is the only book I've reaq which puts them all together.
It's interesting how Great Game paranoia led to these individuals having to suffer such hardships for their surveying trips to otherwise unmapped parts of the world. I suppose it was all in a good cause. The book is short and easy to read. I was disappointed by the maps which were not entirely complete or easy to differentiate between the different expolorers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Spying for the Raj22 April 2009
N. L. Gormley
- Published on Amazon.com
Another Great Game book,well-written and researched. Good because it gives credit to the Asian agents which perhaps they haven't received before. A good addition to my collection of Central Asian and Great Game literature. Recommended for history fans and also general readers.