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So the parents gave me a Kindle for Christmas (arriving a bit after New Year's), and ever since then I've been a little book-crazy, mostly rereading old friends everywhere I go.

The Story of the Malakand Field Force was Winston Churchill's first published book, and it came out long before he was rich and famous enough to hire a large staff of ghostwriters and researchers. It was one of the books that made his reputation as a writer, and that reputation is pretty well deserved: it reads very well, and hit a lot of the things I look for in books non-mathematical.

There are wry and surprisingly perceptive commentaries on the state of life along the frontier, adventure stories a-plenty, no shortage of self-aware pride in the Empire, unflinching descriptions of some of the nastier and more brutal facts of life. It's a fun read, and some of the observations, and speculations, about the nature of the tribes and the future of India are very ironic in retrospect.

Date: 2011-02-02 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I read that as "The Story of the Malakand Force Field" and figured it was YA sci-fi, maybe a Choose Your Own Adventure book, given the cover design. Not entirely accurate!

Date: 2011-02-02 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I used the cover for the modern reprinting, since 30 seconds of googling did not turn up the original cover (which was probably less colorful, anyhow).

The funny thing is, for anybody who has read the YA sci-fi novel The Peshawar Lancers, or Kipling's Kim, and no strong awareness of history, this really could be something out of a similiar genre, done up as a "fake documentary," instead of a real one.

I get the impression there was a really rich Victorian literature, both fictional and nonfictional, about adventures in exotic India. The ones that survive down to us are the best and most timeless of the lot, I suppose.


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