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

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  11,978 ratings  ·  641 reviews
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.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,978 ratings  ·  641 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Man Who Would Be King
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
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This is of course the short story from Rudyard Kipling that inspired the 1975 John Huston film starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

First published in 1888, and (as in the film) told from the perspective of Kipling as the story is related to him by Peachy, this is about two British adventurers who leave the empire, cross the border in Kafiristan (an actual region of present day Afghanistan) and set themselves up as kings.

There is some suggestion that the populace of that state is descended
Steven Walle
Feb 24, 2016 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.
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: old school adventure fans
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: a final go at loving kipling which paid off
I have a weird relationship with Rudyard Kipling (and not in any kind of creepy, bothering-the-dead kind of way thank you). He wrote extensively on subjects, times and places which I find fascinating. It therefore stands to reason that I should love and be totally absorbed by his prolific literary output in all its formats. Frankly, I'm not. Kim? Zzzzz, that one nearly put me to sleep standing. The Jungle Book? Strike me down for saying this but I'm giving a thumbs up to the Disney version. I ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly told. The ending gives me shivers. Wild and unsettling.
A peculiarly mixed collection of stories (it's a collection of three smaller collections, each originally with a general theme of its own). This represents almost the beginning of Kipling's career - having returned to his homeland in India at the age of 16 after an abusive childhood, he became a newspaperman, and eventually started writing short stories for his papers, before publishing them in collections.

In 1888, Kipling published eighty short stories in book form, of which a few dozen had
Apr 13, 2011 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
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Neither God nor Devil, but a man!"

The first time I explore Kipling's work beyond his poetry. I was very surprised by this one.
Although the great interest by the fact that the story is based in real facts, what leave me very pleased was the satirical tone of Kliping, especially in what it refers to the british presence on India.

Too bad my portuguese translation (by Vega) isn't very good, what difficults the understanding of some parts of the plot.
Aug 09, 2013 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.
Jason Koivu
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Fantastical stories and powerful imagery. Sure, technological advances have numbed us to the violence of war, but Kipling's writing loses little of its punch due to the passing time. The adventurous spirit imbued in his work still thrills the soul with its wanderlust, even its foolhardy daring. The images of death and dying, so sudden and stark, are horrific even today. One can only imagine the impact they made on the populous back home in an age when photographs were in their infancy.
Yigal Zur
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the best ever short story. the great master
Jun 13, 2015 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
Oct 08, 2014 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
Alex Bledsoe
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Kipling has become problematic due to his retrograde ideas about race, and his depiction of societies other than English. Both of those issues are present here as well, but more prominent, at least for me, was the fairly explicit critique of the colonialism that created the British Empire. Here two rascals set out for a distant land with the explicit aim of becoming kings thanks to their advanced weaponry and innate "superiority." At first they succeed, but eventually their reach exceeds their ...more
Sotiris Makrygiannis
Short story for Saturday coffee. 2 guys want to build a kingdom in Aphganistan, fine. Has bit of humour but I founded it a bit dry, maybe back then was exotic and adventurous.
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rudyard Kipling might be deeply unfashionable these days but I have a weakness for unfashionable writers. He was something that is almost unimaginable these days - an enormously popular writer who also won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He’s also the sort of writer the PC Thought Police would like to stop us from reading.

Kipling was one of the grand masters of the art of the short story and The Man Who Would Be King and other stories gives us five splendid examples.

I’ve been meaning to get
Mar 30, 2011 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,
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 are
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.
I read this as a parable (of a sort), warning the reader against getting too big for his britches.
Dec 29, 2014 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
J. Alfred
The Anglo-Indian Kipling reminds me of what I've eaten of Indian food: you might not like it, but there's lots to choose from and, whatever you decide on, it'll be highly flavored.
These short stories were written when he was around 23, says the introduction. They're cynical and violent and unpleasantly hero-worshipping, but they're also inventive and will give you a broader perception of Empire.
All that said, "Baa Baa Black Sheep," probably the quietest story in here, is the one that I think
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-audio
The best thing I can say is that I finished. I listened to the audio book several times and I read almost all of them over and I still couldn't tell anyone what some of them were about. A few were simply unfathomable to me. Several were very exciting, but strange. My goal was to get through the title story to see the movie. I didn't want the movie to tell me what Kipling wrote. How pathetic was that? I read every word and all the mumbo-jumbo too. Moving on...

I hope Kim is better. I really want
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books, classics
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.

Seher Alvi
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I found The movie better than novella because it is quite boring.
Zella Kate
In the 1880s in British India, former British army sergeants Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnahan are convinced that the Empire does not properly appreciate their talents, which range from soldiering to smuggling to blackmailing. The two embark on a journey to remote, unexplored Kafiristan, in modern-day Afghanistan/Pakistan. Their retirement plan? Use their skills to convince the locals to hire them as mercenaries, then stage a coup to install themselves as kings so that they can rob the ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly written and horrifying as we listen to the narration of a half-dead, mostly crazed man tell his unbelievable tale of his venture with a friend into a pagan northern African country and the dastardly results when one of them believe he is able to rule a savage race of people.
Storytelling of the highest order - immediately compelling, unputdownable, vivid background/characters, turning on timeless/universal aspects of human nature - nuff said.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you have seen the movie staring Sean Connery and Michael Cain then you will know the story. Two Englishmen go to a remote corner of Afghanistan and convince the natives that they are gods.

A short of about 60 pages so light reading. It's in the public domain so is available as a free download from many places. There is even a decent free audio version on LibriVox.
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Lifted Veil
  • Youth
  • Beyond the Door
  • Mrs. Warren's Profession
  • Bartleby the Scrivener
  • King Solomon's Mines (Allan Quatermain, #1)
  • Time And The Conways
  • Brother Jacob
  • Mr. Spaceship
  • Rip Van Winkle
  • The People That Time Forgot (Caspak, #2)
  • The Mark on the Wall
  • About Love and Other Stories
  • The Garden Party
  • Editha
  • The Beach of Falesá
  • The Ultimate Weapon
  • Death Is the Answer (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night #1)
See similar books…
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
“if I want a crown I must go and hunt it for myself.” 11 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.” 5 likes
More quotes…