10 books like Return of a King

By William Dalrymple,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Return of a King. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini,

Book cover of The Kite Runner

I could relate to the character who witnessed something wrong and did nothing about it. Most of us encounter that kind of situation and we fail to act for a variety of reasons. Usually we find justifications for our failure to act, which are really excuses. The underlying reason for our failure is usually fear, which is hard for us to acknowledge. So we find ways of deflecting our guilt or covering it up, usually with lies that sooner or later will come back to haunt us. When we seek redemption, it’s always a challenge.

The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Kite Runner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

The Sewing Circles of Herat

By Christina Lamb,

Book cover of The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

The three Pashtun virtues are hospitality, honor, and revenge. Pashtun hospitality epitomizes human warmth and generosity but Pashtun honor and revenge make a chilling and toxic cocktail. Christina Lamb gives a human face to the destruction wrought by the then unknown ultraconservative political and religious faction led by the one-eyed cleric, Mohammad Omar. Lamb was there before and after the tragedy. A great read. Will history repeat itself?

The Sewing Circles of Herat

By Christina Lamb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sewing Circles of Herat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Bookseller of Kabul

By Åsne Seierstad,

Book cover of The Bookseller of Kabul

The widows of Kabul called my wife “Frishta” (Angel). Janna loved working with them and she loves this book. Åsne Seierstad writes about the experiences of Afghan women and their prospects, marriages, hopes, and fears. Seierstad lived with a family dominated by a patriarch who loved books; for which the Taliban, also had a—literally—burning passion.

The Bookseller of Kabul

By Åsne Seierstad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bookseller of Kabul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Taking the story from the endgame of the Cold War to the dawn of the War on Terror is this extraordinary book on the rise of Islamist terrorism and the CIA’s efforts to defeat it prior to 9/11. Coll’s research, based on interviews with a vast range of senior officials, is dazzling, yet it never overwhelms a narrative that combines human interest and geopolitical sweep seamlessly. No less impressive is his accomplishment in documenting not just the U.S. and Afghan perspectives but the Saudi and Pakistani as well, all in the same painstaking detail. If this whets the appetite for more of the same, Coll’s Directorate S resumes his account of the intelligence wars in Afghanistan, providing necessary background to understanding the failure of the U.S. occupation there.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive, New York Times bestselling first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has spent years reporting from the Middle East, accessed previously classified government files and interviewed senior US officials and foreign spymasters. Here he gives the full inside story of the CIA's covert funding of an Islamic jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, explores how this sowed the seeds of bn Laden's rise, traces how he built his global network and brings to life the dramatic battles within the US government over national security. Above all, he…


The Jewel in the Crown

By Paul Scott,

Book cover of The Jewel in the Crown: The Raj Quartet, Volume 1

This first volume—with the other threeis, I think, the best book ever written about the British in India and their leaving of it. The whole story is rooted in a rape that happens to a young Englishwoman, whose lover is accused of the crime. I first read this when it came out in 1980, before the amazingly good TV series. There are so many unforgettable characters in itthe women, trying to survive with husbands and fathers away in the army, the missionaries and nuns, as well as the men. Scott does not in any way idealize the Britishrather the oppositeand it is a feast of detail of the time and moving human stories. I have re-read it and will no doubt do so again. 

The Jewel in the Crown

By Paul Scott,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Jewel in the Crown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This first volume opens in 1942 as the British fear both Japanese invasion and Indian demands for self-rule. Daphne Manners, daughter of the province governor, is running at night through the Mayapore gardens, away from her Indian lover, who will soon be arrested for her alleged rape.

A Passage to India

By E.M. Forster,

Book cover of A Passage to India

This novel, quite simply, sent me to India! Written in the 1920s when my grandparents were starting married life there, it is a beautifully written but unsettling depiction of British colonial rule. The plot is deceptively simple: was Adela (a naive young woman newly arrived from England) molested in the Marabar Caves by Dr. Aziz (a cultured young Indian acting as her guide)? But the characters are complex and the novel brilliantly illustrates the tensions between the racist rulers and the ruled. I read it as a teenager, and its portrayal of the vividness of the Indian landscape and the vibrancy of its multi-layered culture gripped my imagination. This book is what made me – aged 18 – climb on a bus to India!

A Passage to India

By E.M. Forster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Passage to India as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in British India in the 1920s, this book looks at racial conflict. The characters struggle to overcome their own differences and prejudices, but when the Indian Dr Aziz is tried for the alleged assault of Adela Quested even the strongest inter-racial friendships come under pressure.

The Far Pavilions

By M.M. Kaye,

Book cover of The Far Pavilions

This classic novel of colonial-era India is an absolute epic, and it immerses you in that world, in all its beauty, injustice, majesty, and history, focusing on a heartrending love story between a doomed Indian princess and a rebellious British soldier who has been raised by a Hindu woman, and the forbidden love they share in the shadow of the 1879 Uprising. With a sympathetic view of the Indian population and a clear-eyed look at colonialism, this book is as much as a love letter to India (the author grew up there) as it is a rollicking adventure story and heartrending romance. Satisfies on every level! 

The Far Pavilions

By M.M. Kaye,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Far Pavilions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of M.M. Kaye's epic novel of love and war. M.M. Kaye's masterwork is a vast, rich and vibrant tapestry of love and war that spans over twenty years, moving from the foothills of the Himalayas, to the burning plains, to the besieged British Mission in Kabul. It begins in 1857 when, following the Indian Mutiny, young English orphan Ashton is disguised by his ayah Sita as her Indian son, Ashok. As he forgets his true identity, his destiny is set...A story of divided loyalties and fierce friendship; of true love made impossible…

Heat and Dust

By Ruth Prawer Jhabvala,

Book cover of Heat and Dust

Another dual view of India, but this one is fiction and written by one author, novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. It’s the story of two women at widely different times: Olivia of the British colonial period in the 1920s who, feeling suppressed by conventions of the time, becomes involved with an Indian prince, causing a great scandal, and her step-granddaughter who fifty years later tries to dig up Olivia’s story. Keyline in the novel; “India always changes people and I have been no exception.”

Heat and Dust

By Ruth Prawer Jhabvala,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heat and Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The beautiful, spoiled and bored Olivia, married to a civil servant, outrages society in the tiny, suffocating town of Satipur by eloping with an Indian prince. Fifty years later, her step-granddaughter goes back to the heat, the dust and the squalor of the bazaars to solve the enigma of Olivia's scandal. 'A superb book. A complex story line, handled with dazzling assurance ...moving and profound. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has not only written a love story, she has also exposed the soul and nerve ends of a fascinating and compelling country. This is a book of cool, controlled brilliance. It is…

Magic Seeds

By V.S. Naipaul,

Book cover of Magic Seeds

Naipaul was one of the greatest English language writers of the last century, in my view. In this novel he traces the fortunes of one Willie Chandran, an Indian resident in the UK, who makes his way to India to join a rural Maoist insurgency against the Indian authorities. The book is a fascinatingly original description of and take on insurgent warfare, fascinating precisely because Naipaul is not a writer especially interested in war, or the usual themes that govern literary treatments of it. As a result, the parts of the book dealing with the insurgency succeed in a masterful and haunting description of the people involved and the conditions they are facing, while entirely avoiding the pitfalls of both sentimentality and cliché.  

Magic Seeds

By V.S. Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magic Seeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Smoke and Ashes

By Abir Mukherjee,

Book cover of Smoke and Ashes

Mukherjee’s first chapter is a masterclass on how to open a mystery-thriller.

“It’s not unusual to find a corpse in a funeral parlor. It’s just rare for them to walk door under their own steam. It was a riddle worth savoring, but I didn’t have the time, seeing as I was running for my life.” This got my interest right away. I was in!

Mukherjee’s protagonist is in an opium den at the wrong time. Beautifully bookended, opium forms the personal struggles of this worthy protagonist. With quirky lines “take me to your organ grinder” and “we’re here to see Torquemada” I enjoyed this action-packed story, set against the backdrop of the 1920s Indian independence movement.

Protagonist Sam Wyndham is an English policeman who’s apolitical, and I enjoyed his comic-accurate cynical portrayal of both Indian proclivities and the British pretensions. But Indians are far more than backdrop, and form vibrant…

Smoke and Ashes

By Abir Mukherjee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smoke and Ashes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

** A THE SUNDAY TIMES BEST 100 BEST CRIME NOVELS SINCE 1945**

'Smoke and Ashes is Abir Mukherjee's best book yet; a brilliantly conceived murder mystery set amidst political and social turmoil - beautifully crafted' C.J. Sansom

India, 1921. Captain Sam Wyndham is battling a serious addiction to opium that he must keep secret from his superiors in the Calcutta police force.

But Wyndham finds himself in a tight spot when he stumbles across a corpse in an opium den. When he then comes across a second body bearing the same injuries, Wyndham is convinced that there's a deranged killer…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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