The Man Who Would Be King
Rudyard Kipling
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The Man Who Would Be King

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  5,282 ratings  ·  240 reviews
The rugged mountains of 19th-century Afghanistan serve as the backdrop for this humorous and action-packed tale of two happy-go-lucky Britons who take over a remote kingdom. The colorful inhabitants and beautiful prose enrich a beautifully powerful ending.
Published by Simon & Schuster (first published 1888)
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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 absolutely no good reason. I used to love C.S. Lewis and Jack Kerouac. But now Lewis' charming Britishness grates on my reading ear and Kerouac's free-spirited writing just sounds like what it is: the work of...more
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 but seek to thrive where it can?

Any successful group soon becomes cramped as their population rises, and hence spreads out to new areas. In this way, each species has developed and then expanded to its lim...more
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 story is atmospheric, adventuresome, and predictive of the pitfalls of colonialism specifically related to the British Empire in India. There are allusions and other realities which contain the story in...more
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 crazy, if you know what I mean. I think it is a must read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2012 Yuki rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yuki by: Film with Sean Connery & Michael Caine (1975)
'"Don't let's quarrel, Peachey," says Daniel without cursing. "You're a King too, and the half of this Kingdom is yours; but can't you see, Peachy, we want cleverer men than us now--three or four of 'em, that we can scatter about for our Deputies. It's a hugeous great State, and I can't always tell the right thing to do, and I haven't time for all I want to do, and here's the winter coming on and all." He put half his beard into his mouth, all red like the gold of his crown.

'"I'm sorry, Daniel,...more
Aug 17, 2008 eq rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to eq by: Jim McGuire
I found the imperialist and womanizing tone to be off-putting but I overcame that to appreciate this compilation of short stories for what it is: An insight into the mind of a Victorian writer.

I found it fascinating that a person can be both derogatory and yet respectful of the people he is writing about. For example, my favorite story was In Flood Time because of the tone the author used and how convincing the narrator, a native Indian, was.

On the other hand, I thought A Way Side Comedy and...more
Maria João Fernandes
"Nem Deus, nem Diabo - é um homem."

Dois amigos, tão amigos como irmãos, que vivem de trafulhices e disfarces, tentando sobreviver a cada dia, decidem pôr mãos à obra e tornar realidade o seu sonho de serem reis. Conhecemos-os através do narrador, que trabalha num jornal, e que quis o destino que se cruzasse com os dois homens e os ajudasse. Quando soube da ideia, porém, tentou dissuadi-os. Mas quando há muita força de vontade, tudo anda sobre rodas e dois anos depois o nosso narrador ouve atenta...more

The reviews on this book very greatly although seemingly more people got something out of it than I did. It is antiquated and without reading other things, I don't know where it is, and it takes a while to figure out the narrator and just what is going on. You don't have that long to set the stage in such a short book.

Peachy Carnehan and Dan Dravot, con artists, decide they want to be king and take off from India for some remote place in what is now North West Afghanistan. Two years later we...more
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 descriptions of the heat of India, the businesses of the day, were fun to read -- even though I resorted to Wikipedia afterwards to learn more about the exceedingly complex way that India was governed bac...more
Amy Azzam
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 heroes (they're actually physically too big for the room in which we meet them). I also liked the odd tension in the book, which was reinforced on two fronts: first, the story splits into too neat halve...more
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 details and descriptions would have been interesting and enriching are just skimmed over. Granted, this is a novella, but if it was twice as long, I would have liked it more.

Secondly, it uses the old de...more
Errrr.....An imperialistic view on an insanely unconvincing event. The writer, Rudyard Kipling, employs heavy usage of 19th Century jargons and idioms unique to England and India which makes the reading a bit challenging and difficult for 20th Century Americans. I am fan of history however, fictionalized history about a soldiering society is foreign to me which I was not prepared to invest in. I noticed there were few typos and misspellings. Not too bad for free book.

There is a movie named, "Th...more
Well, I am no longer the only human being in the world who has not read something by Kipling, and I can see why people dig him.

This is a creepy and enjoyable tale, and it is not without its moments of comedy. The descriptions of mountainous Afghanistan are stunning... and it is really interesting to read this story at a time when America is at war in Afghanistan. The comparisons are uneasy, to say the least.

Other than that, I hate to delve into plot when the story itself is so incredibly short....more
So that's how they got guns on those area... :D Unbelievable, but it took me more time to wiki (and further click wiki links) to dig about Kafiristan than reading this novella. (And an interesting link, I provide here:

I was highly entertained, not being put off by the somehow racist tone that I could understand would come out of the author's context, when the British Empire still existed. I did like the twist, more so the pitiful loyalty between the two fr...more
Kiran Kumar
A beautiful classic of two Englishmen, who venture into Afghanistan from India, to become Kings of a part of that country.
The story is narrated by a journalist who happens to meet two Englishmen Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan, in a train in the times when India was still under the British rule. These two guys worked as sailor, photographers, petty contractors, engine drivers, boiler fitters etc and eventually come to a conclusion that India is not the place for their dream, and that is to be...more
Wow, this was a rollicking tale - I had zero idea what I was getting into, and to my surprise it kept getting stronger and stranger. A great glimpse into how Afghanistan (specifically the Kafiristan region and its Kalash people) must have appeared to British eyes in the late 19th century. Immediately after I finished reading I was dragged into the Wikipedia rabbit hole with tabs open for everything mentioned in the story, from the Martini rifle to the Nuristan region. Fascinating stuff.
Jun 09, 2014 Kyle rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If you need something to put you to sleep.
When I heard that my favorite childhood movie "Road to El Dorado" was based off this short story, I hopped to Amazon and got this book on kindle. I had it for a long time before I actually read it last night, because I found out that it was only about 80 pages. It doesn't age well, but I guess you get to read some Victorian writing. It's really boring, with tons of useless information in the beginning, then it melts off into some character describing his adventures. It begins slow, gets a little...more
David Cole
Very dated with its Victorian, imperialist ideals, but it remains a great story of adventure, friendship and exotic peoples. You could enjoy the book as a socialogical study of British attitudes of Kipling's day, or as the adventure it was written to be. It has a mythical quality to it, and employs interesting story-telling conventions. This is probably more of a man's story. Given current events, it's intriguing to read about the perils of skirmishing with Afghan tribes.
A very imperialistic view on a maddeningly improbable event. While it was vaguely interesting, the writing was very colloquial and antiquated. I'm all for history books, but fictionalized history about a soldiering society I have no ties to or understanding of was difficult without proper preparation, which I really wasn't ready to invest in.
What happens when angels fall and become men? Apparently a fallen god is not easily forgiven, nor should he meddle too much in the affairs of men, or women, without losing that very essence that makes him a god. Entertaining read.
Perry Whitford
Can anyone read this bustling tale of brazen Victorian con-men questing for fame and fortune in the nether regions of the British Empire without thinking of Sean Connery and Michael Caine as Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan in the incredibly entertaining film adaptation by John Huston?

I know I couldn't, which is why I enjoyed reading Kipling's original short story so much, despite its grislier side. Reprobates and chauvinists both, Dravot and Carnehan cook up the unlikely and dangerous scheme o...more
I downloaded The Man Who Would Be King because it was a freebie and because I was under the impression it was going to be funny. I'm not sure why I thought that. I certainly didn't find it funny. Interesting, worth having read, but not funny.

I see in the blurb that it is described as humorous.


I guess it's that kind of imperial sense of humor, where odd people and foreign places are funny because they're odd and foreign. And men who've seen too much bark out a short laugh, "Hah! If you'd s...more
Bush should have read this book when planning the War in Afghanistan....and its an excellent film w/Michael Caine and Sean Connery....
Loved it. The movie has long been one of my favorites so I wanted to read the story. A quick read that won't disappoint.
Nick Jones
So epic. Classic Kipling.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Really fun. Kipling has more than a few lines and passages in this novella that are the unmistakable handiwork of a phenomenal writer. Solid. The structure is a frame in which a gallavanting soldier of fortune tells his story to a desk-bound newspaperman in olden-times British India. The conquest of Kafiristan (a real place, go figure), Afghanistan, is undertaken by the tale-teller and his free-booting partner Danny -- and it all goes bad due to uncontrolled ego and hubris. I give it four stars...more
To better understand the mind of a Victorian colonialist, this is one who is well suited for the job. However, and this is a big however, it is imperative to understand that most Victorian colonialist did not full comprehend the negative ramifications of colonialism like Kipling pointed out.

Aside from the obvious imperialistic racism and sexism, there is an underlying "moral" to the story which forewarns the impending demise of the colonialist who doesn't adhere to humble character traits like...more
Had to read this for an English class for CSUSB. While I did not really enjoy it too much, there were aspects that were humorous that made it okay. For example, the fact that these guys have such dumb-luck and one actually succeeds at becoming king is hilarious. What made it challenging to enjoy is the style used and the disassociation from the actual events of the story. The beginning is confusing since the narrator just describes the train and lists a bunch of cities that flew over my head. It...more
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Books2Movies Club: 2012/08 - The Man Who Would Be King 5 35 Oct 03, 2012 03:24AM  
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907 "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

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