This book is a retelling of Britain's greatest imperial disaster, the First Afghan War (1839-1842).
Although history has always been a favourite subject of mine I have never read a book about any war before. What tempted to read this one is first of all the favourable reviews and also that I'd enjoyed the author's White Mughals.
As Dalrymple acknowledges, this conflict is well-documented but he has made use of a variety of new sources from all sides of the battle lines, including 'tattered letters and blood-stained diaries ....from trunks in Home Counties attics' as well as previously unused material in the Indian National Archives, Punjab Archives, Russian sources and even Afghan ones that turned up in Kabul. Therefore we see the different points of view.
There are excellent colour plates including the famous oil 'The Remnants of an Army' depicting Dr Brydon's exhausted arrival at the walls of Jalalabad on his collapsing nag. The chapters dealing with the horrors of the retreat from Kabul meant I could only stomach a few pages at a time: very disturbing.
This is an excellent work that I was so glad to have read in its entirety.