Bugles and a Tiger
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Top Customer Reviews
Masters recounts, in beautiful style, his passage through the RMC Sandhurst and on to becoming a subaltern in 2/4 Ghurkha Rifles on India's Northwest frontier. But this is no ordinary story about a toff fagging and hurrahing his way through life, rather it is an evocative self-study set against the backdrop of interwar Britain and India.
In his descriptions of India it becomes clear how in love Masters was with the country and the people and especially with his beloved Ghurkhas. Though this is not to suggest he expresses or represents some outdated colonial view, his love of the Ghurkhas was reciprocal and if it may at times seem paternalistic, it is in that he demonstrates the very essence of a good young officer, genuine care and very deep respect for his men.
This book is also alive with individual cameos of the Ghurkha officers and men with whom Masters served and allows the reader rare insight in to the life of an Indian Army regiment before the second world war. This book is also richly veined with humour and you are likely to find yourself frequently laughing out loud at exploits such as 'mess mountaineering'.
This book should be obligatory reading at Sandhurst as it is full of lessons for would-be officers, but is also obligatory reading for anyone with an interest in history, military or otherwise, travel or biography.
In 1933 John Masters moves from Wellington to Sandhurst and then after training to India and a brief stay of further education with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and then on to the 2/4 PWOGR, here he takes command of a Rifle Company as it maintains order on the edge of the Empire. Imperial Policing at its zenith, this is a remarkable insight to the North West Frontier of the time [although not much seems to have changed] and the clashes with the Pathans tribesmen. Masters learns his trade under the watchful eye of his Commanding Officer, and on the brink of the Second World War, he is the Adjutant of the Battalion ready to see further action in an all too different clash of arms.
An excellent recollection, lovingly written of the old Indian Army, by someone who learnt his trade on one of the remotest outpost of Empire. Recommended to anyone who has an interest in Military History or is about to take up unit command themselves.
In his foreword to Bugles and a Tiger (1956), the first volume of his autobiography, John Masters defines his book clearly:
This is a factual story but not a history. [ . . . The] purpose is to tell the story of how a schoolboy became a professional soldier of the old Indian Army [. . . and to give] an idea of what India was like in those last twilit days of the Indian Empire, and something more than a tourist's view of some of the people who lived there.
As heir to Kipling, a much greater writer though Masters has genuine writing talent, and to lesser-known figures like Jim Corbett, Anglo-Indians in love with India and having the double perspective of Englishmen born in that country, Masters succeeds in his purpose. Bugles is a classic of its genre, a memoir of a military education but also a homage to India, its flora and fauna, its peoples and cultures, with particular attention to the Ghurkhas of Nepal.
Bugles covers the years 1933-39, moving from Masters's training and education at Sandhurst, through his experiences on the North-West Frontier of India, first with a British infantry regiment and then with the Ghurkhas, to a brief visit to Japan and a journey across North America, return to India and the outbreak of World War Two. A large part of the impulse behind these experiences is what Kipling describes as "for to see and for to behold, ever the world so wide," a desire appropriate to youth and to the first volume of an autobiography.
Such adventures give Masters a mass of experience made exotic to most readers by time and distance.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The first volume of John Masters autobiography. Highlights how careless soldiers died on the North West Frontier. Consider the level of responsibility given to young officers.Published 7 months ago by Mr. R. J. Bewell
A wonderful book describing the early career of a Sandhurst graduate young officer and his introduction into the Gurkhas. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jeremy Price
Fascinating and although written about service in the nineteen - thirties in the frontier region India/Afghanistan (as it then was) it sheds light on the recent history of the... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mel Sawden
This is the first of 3 volumes of autobiography and covers his time in the Indian Army up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dev B
A must for military history buffs and those interested in the Gurkhas or life style of pre WW2 UK young officer in India. Should be on the Sandhurst reading listPublished 16 months ago by Kevin Hurley