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The Man Who Would Be King

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  11,463 ratings  ·  622 reviews
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Melville House (first published 1888)
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Ketutar Jensen Frankly, I don't think children should read this.…moreFrankly, I don't think children should read this.(less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  11,463 ratings  ·  622 reviews

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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
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 fr
Apr 08, 2020 marked it as to-read
The 1975 film,starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine,based on this story is an interesting one.

Two British army sergeants in 19th century India look to turn their fortunes around.They decide to travel to remote Kafiristan.

It's a tough,hazardous journey,but they get there.They have rifles and seeing the effects of bullets,the locals treat them as gods.

Inevitably,this state of affairs does not last and what happens in between,makes for an entertaining movie.Sean Connery is in his element and give
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.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly told. The ending gives me shivers. Wild and unsettling.
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 left 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 and makes difficult to understand 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.
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 symbo
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 g ...more
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 stor
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 whic
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, "Th
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. ...more
Narendrāditya Nalwa
Feb 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2018
I had read a Malayalam translation of The Jungle Book early in my childhood, and remember re-reading it many times since. But this one couldn't engage me even half through.
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.
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
Ian Laird
It's hard to forget the images of Sean Connery and Michael Caine as Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan respectively in John Huston's adaptation of the Kipling story. It is also disconcerting to think the director originally wanted to film the story with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable. Would have been a different movie.

Then the Kipling dialogue takes hold and we see his superb eye for the complex and precarious relationship between the British soldiers, in this case ex-soldiers and their fevere
Julie Thilges
May 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
What even is this
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 t
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.
Clay Davis
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read with a very good moral to it.
Yigal Zur
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
one of the greatesr
I read this as a parable (of a sort), warning the reader against getting too big for his britches.
Osama Siddique
This is such a very strange and often jarring story. Admittedly to be read in its context and seen from the perspective of the two protagonists - as reckless and untamed a pair of Loafers as any - it is nevertheless consistently blatant in its imperialistic aspirations and orientalist outlook. One gathers that many in the West grew up looking upon it as the ultimate adventure story - two audacious men who set out to become kings in an exotic and untamed land called Kafiristan while courting all ...more
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 countrysi ...more
Anne Lorena
May 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
what even
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: c19th, britain
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caetlin McFadden
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
it is really difficult to give a review about any work by Kipling because he had so many problematic opinions and, quite frankly, was immensely racist. While keeping this fact in mind, “The Man Who Would Be King,” serves a type of cautionary tale for those who want to create an empire for the sake of power. As both empirical seeking characters meet cruel deaths (which were honestly VERY well deserved) Kipling is creating a story that warns those individuals in the British Empire attempting to tr ...more
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Literature & Fict...: My Favourite Book 5 27 Dec 25, 2019 04:15PM  
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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

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