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"Return of a King" The Battle for Afghanistan 1839-42 [Book Talk]

William Dalrymple - Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan,[masked] - A cautionary tale of 19th-century imperial hubris that still resonates today.

Join prizewinning historian William Dalrymple (The Last Mughal), for a masterly retelling of the first Afghan war, perhaps the West's greatest imperial disaster in the East: an important parable of neo-colonial ambition and cultural collision, folly, and hubris, which continues to resonate into the 21st century.  Followed by a book sale and signing.

William Dalrymple

With access to previously untapped primary sources, William Dalrymple gives us the most immediate and comprehensive account we have had of the spectacular first battle for Afghanistan. We see the British invade the remote kingdom in 1839, reestablishing Shah Shuja on the throne — this time as their puppet — and ushering in a period of conflict still unresolved today. We see the Afghan people rise to the call for jihad against the foreign occupiers in 1841, poorly equipped tribesmen routing an entire army of what was then the most powerful military nation in the world: more than 18,000 British troops retreated from Kabul through treacherous mountain passes, and only one man made it through to Jellalabad. Dalrymple illuminates the similarities between what the British faced in Afghanistan nearly two centuries ago, and what NATO faces there today. The Return of a King is both the definitive analysis of the first Afghan war and a work of stunning topicality.

William Dalrymple is the author of seven previous works of history and travel, including City of Djinns, which won the Young British Writer of the Year Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book award; the best-selling From the Holy Mountain; White Mughals, which won Britain's most prestigious history prize, the Wolfson; and The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Prize for History and Biography. He divides his time between New Delhi and London, and is a contributor to The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker.

How to find Fong Auditorium in/near the entrance of Boylston Hall

It is a short 3 min. walk from Harvard Sq station (Red Line).

Walk into Harvard Yard and Boylston Hall is at the right side of Widener Library. It is easy to find. Fong Auditorium is near the entrance of Boylston Hall on the first floor. I will be sitting near the entrance of the auditorium with a meetup sign. Let's sit together if possible.

Post Book Talk cafe/food

If enough people are interested, we can go to Panera on Mass Ave near Widener Library exit of the Yard, possibly after 7:30 pm. Panera has some pasta dishes for around $5 (small) or $8 (large) and well-known for good bread/sandwiches/soup.


Info[masked], [masked]

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  • Mariko

    Darlymple speaks very well as well. For some this might be a little too early in terms of the content since we have not totally recovered from the Boston incidence. The war atrocity happened due to naivety of the British commanders, who were totally ignorant about political/cultural situations of Afghanistan. The British troops were carrying tons of cigars and colognes on camels in addition to other provisions from India according to the author.

    April 25, 2013

  • jonathan

    I'm very sorry to have missed this talk. Iwas hoping to find out more about Dr. Watson's wound from a Jezail bullet.

    April 25, 2013

  • Hari ".

    I love reading about Afghanistan and its history and culture. I'm very familiar with the Anglo-Afghan wars, and this one in particular. I have no clue how an entire army and their contingency perished, but I think that it has something to do with disrupting the provision lines from India.

    April 25, 2013

  • Mariko

    Hi folks for Book Talk/Afghanistan,
    I posted how to find Fong Auditorium in Yard etc. Please check the website again. It is easy to find and I will be sitting near the entrance door of the hall. Let's try to sit together. I also suggest to go to Panera after the Book Talk for discussion, if enough people are interested.

    April 23, 2013

  • Katy

    Dalrymple writes very well.

    April 20, 2013

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