The Man who would be King

"The Man Who Would Be King" (1888) is a short story by Rudyard Kipling. It is about two British adventurers in British India, who become kings of Kafiristan, a remote part of Afghanistan. The story was inspired by the exploits of James Brooke, an Englishman who became the "white Raja" of Sarawak in Borneo, and by the travels of American adventurer Josiah Harlan, who was granted the title Prince of Ghor in perpetuity, for himself and his descendants. It incorporates a number of other factual elements such as the European-like appearance of many Nuristani people, and an ending modelled on the return of the head of the explorer Adolph Schlagintweit to colonial administrators.The story was first published in The Phantom Rickshaw and other Tales (Volume Five of the Indian Railway Library, published by A H Wheeler & Co of Allahabad in 1888). It also appeared in Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories in 1895, and in numerous later editions of that collection.A radio adaption was broadcast on the show Escape on July 7, 1947. In 1975, it was adapted by director John Huston into a feature film of the same name, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine as the heroes and Christopher Plummer as Kipling.— Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Reviews from Goodreads.com

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By Keely (Albany, NY) · ★★★☆☆ · August 21, 2007
I must admit I find the modern backlash against colonialism to be somewhat ridiculous; as if colonialism were something new, something purely European, something malicious and unnatural. What else has mankind done since it rose in Africa but displace its neighbors? What else does any animal do bu... ...more
By Richard (Seattle, WA) · ★★★☆☆ · April 13, 2011
Oh my fickle heart. Oh my shifting allegiances.

I find a curious principle at work in my reading. And that priciple is that I will often change my mind... with a fervor. To wit: I will love love love an author and then years later I will find myself passionately renouncing their writing for absolu... ...more
By Cheryl (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · February 26, 2012
The twenty-two year old Rudyard Kipling wrote THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, one of his best short stories in 1888. The tale is inspired by the true story of an American adventurer, Josiah Harlan who claimed the title of Prince of Ghor in 1840 when he lead a military force into Afghanistan.

The short... ...more
By Maryam (France) · ★★★★★ · August 10, 2013
the first book of Kipling I got to read after Mowgli (The jungle book). very interesting and breathtaking story. always loved Kipling, he basically made me dream of India, hope one day I will get to visit it. Just as usual the atmosphere is very realistic, the story is simply crazy, but good craz... ...more
By Isaac (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · November 23, 2014
When Kipling wrote The Man Who Would Be King, he depicted the English ruling over India as a bad idea. This is established due to the fact that he set up such a ridiculous scenario with the two men from England, Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan . The story follows these two adventurers, who trav... ...more
By John (Hesston, KS) · ★★★★☆ · April 15, 2009
It somehow feels a bit dodgy giving just three or four stars to something that has been considered a classic by so many, but here I go doing it anyhow.

The good parts of the book were the setting and something of the insight into the thought processes of the imperial powers of the day. The vivid d... ...more
By Amy (Reston, VA) · ★★★★☆ · December 10, 2011
Intriguing story, slightly different from the eponymous movie starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine (good flick, by the way). My great books discussion group did not like this one, saw too much of British imperialism in it, which offended their sensibilities. I rather liked the bigger-than-life... ...more
By Benjamin (Slovakia) · ★★☆☆☆ · August 29, 2011
I was pretty disappointed by this book. Even if it was only about 100 pages long, and free on the Kindle, I still felt a bit cheated. The story itself is an interesting one, but for me it failed on 2 accounts.

The first, and probably most aggravating, was that it wasn't too in depth. Places where... ...more