Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Man Who Would Be King” as Want to Read:
The Man Who Would Be King
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

The Man Who Would Be King

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  8,099 Ratings  ·  383 Reviews
"My gord, Carnehan," says Daniel, "This is a tremenjus business, and we've got the whole country as far as it's worth having."

Literature’s most famous adventure story, this stirring tale of two happy-go-lucky British ne’re-do-wells trying to carve out their own kingdom in the remote mountains of Afghanistan has also proved over time to be a work of penetrating and lasting
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Melville House (first published 1888)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Man Who Would Be King, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Man Who Would Be King

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
J.G. Keely
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
Diamond Cowboy
Feb 24, 2016 Diamond Cowboy rated it liked it
I found this book quite boring and feel guilty for the feeling. I have loved most everything else I have read by this author. The charictors hold no appeal for me and the plot just kind of trugged a long.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Apr 13, 2011 Richard rated it liked it
Shelves: 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 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
Oct 25, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing
Kipling's poetry was extravagantly admired during his life time and even for a while after his death. This was certainly because he wrote quite vigorously and was regarded as a great advocate of the great British Empire upon whom the sun never set. While some of his poetry is still appreciated, it hasn't aged well and one can only read about "The White man's burden" with embarrassment and give him a pardon for being a child of his times.

But the same cannot be said about his prose--the short stor
Jun 13, 2015 Travelin rated it really liked it
Perhaps this was shocking or surprising to empire builders in Kipling's era, but to this modern reader, the troubles of two idiot chancers/minor empire builders in Afghanistan seem slightly obvious. I remember it worked exceptionally well, visually, as a movie with Michael Caine.

Nor do I see much transparent chauvinism. On the contrary, it appears to be a warning to self-centred empire builders. Also, the tribe who caused them the most trouble were "British" and already knew the ridiculous symbo
Aug 10, 2013 Maryam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
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.

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
Apr 06, 2011 Roni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-edition
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
Hristina Petrov
I have been getting into audiobooks a lot recently, and I tend to enjoy them a lot, but somehow, I got a bit lost with this one. It didn't grasp my attention enough. I struggle when reading classics, because I cannot get into some of them the way I should, I lose focus quickly, which is what happened with this book. Maybe I listened to it at the wrong time. Maybe I'll try again someday, when I've had more than four hours of sleep. Until then, I'm leaving this here as it is.
Sep 05, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: c19th, britain
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yuki Shimmyo
Mar 27, 2012 Yuki Shimmyo rated it really liked it
Recommended to Yuki Shimmyo 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,
Aug 17, 2008 eq rated it really liked it
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
Apr 17, 2012 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 24, 2016 Vicki rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, audio-books
It is sad that I could not make myself love this. I know it is a classic and really who am I to judge a classic. I just did not enjoy it. I found Peachy Carnehan humorous in starts and stops. But I had no love for his companion Daniel Dravo. I did feel compassion towards the end though.

May 08, 2015 Achala rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Though interesting, it didn't engage me as much because a lot of references were obscure and went right past me. A good, short read though.
Seher Alvi
May 01, 2016 Seher Alvi rated it liked it
I found The movie better than novella because it is quite boring.
Dec 29, 2015 OzOz rated it really liked it
بصراحة لم تعجبني
Jul 26, 2015 Jibran rated it really liked it
Two Englishmen in India, charlatans, fraudsters, impersonators, swindlers, cheats, who wander about the length of breadth of the country tricking and deceiving people to earn their dough, decide one day that they will journey up the northern mountains to become joint kings of Kafiristan, a mountainous region then outside the borders of British India but which now falls in present-day Pakistan and where old pagan tribes still exist.

Once in Kafiristan they make a show of force with their guns whic
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
John Burt
Sep 27, 2015 John Burt rated it really liked it
A couple of British Army veterans cheerily venture into Afghanistan in search of fame and fortune, and discover why it was known as "the White Man's Grave", making it the grave of quite a few men of assorted colors in the process.
I once taught a middle-school history course in which I showed my students "Doctor Strangelove" as a way of showing them what it felt like to live through the 1960s. If I were teaching a course about the middle of the 1800s, I might well show them the Sean Connery/Micha
Apr 15, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ownebook
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
Jan 13, 2016 Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: classic, historical
What to think? I am not really sure. I used to read quite a lot of Kipling in my younger days, especially "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" from the Jungle Book, which I thought was edge of my seat exciting and scary, since I am really afraid of snakes.

The Man Who Would Be King is an entertaining adventure story. Throughout, I could not decide whether I found the point of view of British Imperialism intriguing or annoying. It was certainly very much there, and, it seemed to me, very much a facet in the brilli
Amy Azzam
Dec 10, 2011 Amy Azzam rated it really liked it
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
It’s grand enough I suppose, even if the idea in hindsight is profoundly awkward. I do like how the first half is narrated by some other random fellow who just got mildly embroiled in the whole scenario, and how he’s running around trying to work out what’s going on and that this is just something else in his life, but something that makes it interesting. The big problem here is that I couldn’t honestly tell you much of anything that happens in that first half, and even less so in the second hal ...more
Benjamin Chandler
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
Nov 23, 2014 Isaac rated it really liked it
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 travel to Kafiristan to make a name for themselves. They end up taking over and ruling the native tribes of Kafiristan, making the natives think that they were gods. I believe that Kipling wanted to make a p ...more
Aug 09, 2011 janine rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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.
David Cole
Mar 14, 2008 David Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 10, 2008 Ben rated it it was ok
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.
Ganesh Sanal
Nov 30, 2015 Ganesh Sanal rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: non-sense, allegory
I really doubt that the author was on weeds. He wanted a classic that depicts the fallacies of imperialistic mindset and made shit. Lucky the book was real short. Or may be the language and settings were too archaic for the likes of me. Personally I was not much pleased.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Books2Movies Club: The Man Who Would Be King 5 35 Oct 03, 2012 03:24AM  
  • The People of the Mist
  • The Lemoine Affair
  • The Beach of Falesá
  • The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg
  • Brother Jacob
  • The Duel
  • The Girl With The Golden Eyes
  • Beau Geste
  • Sandokan: The Pirates of Malaysia
  • Freya of the Seven Isles
  • Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights
  • May Day
  • The Game
  • Intentions
  • The Prairie (Leatherstocking Tales, #5)
  • The Poor Clare
  • The Aspern Papers
  • The Four Million
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was a journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist.

Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888). His poems include Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), The Gods of the Copybook Headings (1919), The White Man's Burden (1899), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in
More about Rudyard Kipling...

Share This Book

“if I want a crown I must go and hunt it for myself.” 4 likes
“I have been fellow to a beggar again and again under circumstances which prevented either of us finding out whether the other was worthy.” 4 likes
More quotes…