20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
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This review is from: Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan (Hardcover)
My book of the year so far, superbly-written history with lots of new information (it baffles me how other reviewers can say there is nothing new here, when Dalrymple has tracked down a number of important but previously unexamined primary sources). The story is given equally from both sides, a welcome change from some previous histories. The level of balance is admirable. A fabulous amount of information is given in a fast-paced narrative, I enjoyed it enormously. There is some confusion about some of the dates - for example, we are told in several places that Shah Shuja was born in 1786, but he is described as being both a "sexagenarian" and "in his late 50s" in 1838. But that's a minor quibble, this is a remarkable and superb retelling of this ill-fated expedition. Given the huge number of similarities to Russia's experiences in Afghanistan the 1980s and the UN's currently, I think Dalrymple is remarkably restrained in his use of analogies.
Incidentally, I think the review of this book in "History Today" is perhaps one of the worst, most biased and deliberately misleading I have ever read.