The Man Who Would Be King Macintyre recounts the true story of Josiah Harlan, famously fictionalized by Rudyard Kipling (later adapted in 1975's The Man Who Would Be King with Sean… 2004-04-01 Nonfiction
Book Review

The Man Who Would Be King (2004)

Details Release Date: Apr 01, 2004; Writer: Ben Macintyre; Genre: Nonfiction

Macintyre recounts the true story of Josiah Harlan, famously fictionalized by Rudyard Kipling (later adapted in 1975's The Man Who Would Be King with Sean Connery). In 1822, he fled his Quaker Pennsylvania roots for an intrepid journey through China, India, Russia, and most notably, Afghanistan. Though Harlan's Americanness informed his obsession with wandering and conquering, his inspiration ''in pursuit of novelty and adventure'' was Macedonian -- as in Alexander the Great, whose Far East exploits he fetishized. Macintyre unearths a trove of unseen documents (like Harlan's mawkish love poetry and a Persian manuscript declaring him Prince of Ghor) and imparts a tactile understanding of Afghanistan's cultural impulses.

Originally posted Apr 16, 2004 Published in issue #760 Apr 16, 2004 Order article reprints