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Soldier Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North-West Frontier Paperback – 21 Jun 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (21 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848547161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848547162
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 279,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A marvellous book in the best traditions of narrative history: colourful, informative and splendidly readable. I can give it no greater praise than to admit I would like to have written it myself (SAUL DAVID in the DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Allen is an excellent guide through this fascinating territory . . . [A] magnificent book' WILLIAM DALRYMPLE in the SUNDAY TIMES -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Hardcover.

Book Description

Drawing extensively on the men's diaries, journals and letters, this text retells the story of a brotherhood of young men who together laid claim to one of the most notorious frontiers in the world: India's north-west frontier.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Having read various fictional accounts of the Indian (Sepoy) Mutiny and of 19th century India, with all the feel of "Boys Own adventure" that they tend to contain, to find that many of these things really did happen, and in a fashion that does shows that some of the fictional action did not stray overmuch from the fact, is quite startling. The Lawrence Brothers, and Henry Lawrence's "Young Men" are shown here, with warts and all, the glamour stripped off. And yet what they did, despite the petty jeaousies, and the scandals still comes through. These are not the paladins of Victorian romance, but the real men, hard to the point (sometimes beyond the point) of brutality. Arrogant, self possessed men who believed in what they did, and in many instances played fast and loose with the tribesmen of the Frontier. To judge them by modern standards is to deny their own background and the situation they found themselves in. The book also touches on the murky world of The East India (John) Company, and how these men had to act as soldiers, policemen, and politicians as they strove to protect John Company's market share.
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Format: Paperback
In his prologue, Charles Allen lays out the approach he will take Soldier Sahibs. This is not to be read so much as a comprehensive history examining the social issues or complexities of the expansion of British rule out of India and into the North-West Frontier (now partially in Afghanistan and partially in Pakistan), but as a true-to-life "boy's adventure" story. The tale is of John Nicholson (one of Allen's forbearers) and the other Young Men who, under the guidance of Henry Lawrence, help spread the reach of the East India Company.
And what a tale it is: culture clashes, petty bureaucrats, noble savages. Allen draws heavily upon the letters, diaries and reports of the principle heroes of the tale, leading to a history that is drenched in Victorian stereotypes and ideals. With this caveat in mind, however, Allen does a great job of bringing the modern reader into the world walked by Nicholson and his compatriots. The writing draws in the reader with fantastic tale after fantastic tale, starting with a brief biography of Nicholson and of the East India Company and ending with the lifting of the siege of Delhi during the Sepoy Rebellion. There are lots of vignettes highlighting life in the service of "John Company" and the British Empire and the inevitable culture clashes that occurred across the subcontinent.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an exciting story of a few of those great men in the British Empire's history who served in India and helped make the North-West Frontier what it is today. This area now forms the boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan and has seen some of the most violent wars and battles in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Each of the young men portrayed in this book served with the British East India Company and had seen active service in the Punjab in the 1840's. They were known as 'Henry Lawrence's young men' and this book tells the story of how and why that came to be.
The author, Charles Allen, was himself born in India and he brings to the story the local feel and knowledge of one who has been there. You can sense his passion for these men and this area reflected in the narrative. And what an exciting story he tells! From minor skirmishes to full scale battles, from raids and ambushes to terrifying accounts of the style of fighting practiced by those most cunning of warriors that the British had to fight against. Throughout the story you read about the amazing courage and dignity that these young men had. As a reader you tend to believe that these men actually wanted to do the best for the people of this region regardless of what their hierarchy or the local rulers and princes wanted.
The narrative moves along quickly and draws you into the story as you follow the paths of these men from becoming young officers and learning the ways of the North-West Frontier until their demise and the passing of this era. The author utilises diaries, journals and letters of the participants and the book abounds with individual stories from these 'Soldier Sahibs'. This is a great story and I am sure that readers who love a good book or decent history will find this book a gem.
The author provides a number of black & white photographs and a few maps although I would have liked more maps within the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having recently rediscovered an interest in the North West Frontier of British India, this book proved a timely publication from my point of view. Charles Allen faithfully charts the detailed history of a fifteen year period in which a handful of extraordinary Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen, extended Britain's tenuous hold over large tracts of northern India and what is now Pakistan; this aggrandisement achieved through a mixture of missionary zeal, political cunning, and a degree of personal energy and daring which almost defies belief. The picture which emerges is of nothing so much as some sort of cell of latter-day Knights Templar - warrior monks, fanatical in their service to the cause. The detailed and interwoven careers of this handful of larger than life characters are skilfully related in a gripping narrative, enlivened by a highly accessible and wryly modern turn of phrase. The story is an astonishing one, insofar as it reveals a prevailing British culture and attitude totally dedicated to duty, God and Empire, which in the 150 years since has become so alien and outmoded, that today's Britons would find it utterly and mind-bogglingly unreal. It is, nonetheless an inspiring book, in terms of charting raw human courage, achievement and endeavour - whatever the background or the propriety of the motivations as we may judge them in today's more politically correct times. Best of all, the verbatim accounts and extracts paint a brilliantly vivid and technicolor picture of the nature of the extraordinary Pathan tribes who still populate this wild frontier. Again, almost unbelievable in their endless propensity for making war and plotting treachery. The very worst and most savage of enemies, and the most illogically loyal and truest of friends.Read more ›
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