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Indian Subcontinent

ISBN 1590481712




Artist Explorer, Edwin Lord Weeks - The author of this book, Edwin Lord Weeks, occupies a unique position in the pantheon of Long Rider heroes. There are more famous equestrian explorers, more prolific writers. Yet no one ever documented the world of horse travel quite like this Artist-Explorer. Born into a wealthy New England family, Weeks left Boston in the early 1870s in search of artistic training and adventure. He found them both in Paris. The young American studied with the finest artists of his day, developing a style devoted to absolute realism and love of colour. Then, armed with his palette and passport, Weeks set off to paint the dangerous portions of the world. His first daring journey took him to a forbidden section of Morocco in 1878, where he escaped being killed “by the skin of my teeth.” Back in his Paris studio, Weeks produced large paintings depicting the Oriental mystery and glamour he had witnessed in Morocco. With his beautiful paintings now hanging in prestigious Paris salons, the young painter’s fame was assured. Yet it was his equestrian journey from Persia to India that provided Weeks with the material, not only for a superb equestrian travel book, but the magnificent paintings of mythical India which assured him of artistic immortality. Accompanied by the noted travel writer, Theodore Child, the young adventurers set off in 1892 to ride more than a thousand miles from Trebizond to Bushire. During the course of their journey the two friends encountered a bevy of bad lodgings, bandits, and even death. For ultimately only Weeks managed to ride into India, after having lost his companion to the terrors of the trail. Though the brilliant expatriate artist went on to produce some of the most celebrated Indian paintings ever done, his beautifully written account of the equestrian journey which inspired his masterpieces, has been largely forgotten for more than a hundred years. Amply illustrated with drawings done during this historic journey, “Artist Explorer” recounts the amazing adventures of a painter who sought to study the world and his soul from the back of that ancient altar of travel, the saddle.  For more details go to Barnes & Noble or Amazon.co.uk


At Freedom's Door: A Ride across Northern India in the Winter of 1946-1947 on the eve of Partition, Malcolm Lyall Darling - Countless books are written, yet few weather the passing of time save those which contain an enduring message. This is one such rare example in that it describes the timeless equestrian journey of a wise man in search of racial and religious harmony.

On the surface Sir Malcolm Lyall Darling (1880-1969) would appear to have been another political tool of the powerful British Raj which ruled the Indian subcontinent with an iron hand. Nonetheless, though he was an exceptional Indian Civil Service officer, Darling had been raised in an intellectual family of English free thinkers. His education at Eton further undermined any dogmatic religious convictions, instilling instead a curiosity about comparative cultures and a belief that the Church of England did not hold a monopoly on truth. Thus, while the majority of his colleagues despised the Indian culture they were sent to rule, Darling sought to enhance his natural sympathy for the people.

Such unorthodox views caused him to be socially ostracized, especially after he condemned a notorious massacre of Indian civilians by an imperialist British general. Yet it was thanks to Darling’s skill as an expert on rural Indian society that the multi-lingual humanist was reluctantly tolerated by the English political class. In the winter of 1946-47, with the British set to partition the subcontinent into the separate nations of India and Pakistan, the cultural insurgent set off on a dramatic 1,400 mile ride to interview the people about to undergo this traumatic political upheaval.

The result of his journey is the marvelous book, At Freedom’s Door. Thanks to his tolerance and insight, Darling was able to describe far more than the dusty plains, great rivers and mighty mountains which the average traveller would have noted. Instead Rajput and Sikhs confided in him, while Muslims and Hindus provided him with shelter and secrets. Using his horse as the key to each village, Darling noted the size of the fields, as well as the fear of the future. For here was an India, still smiling, but eager for freedom. For five months he travelled, all the time being aware that his equestrian journey was akin to that of Arthur Young, who rode across France on the eve of that country’s revolution.

Unlike that journey, Darling’s ride ended peacefully at the door of Mahatma Gandhi, where the noted sage reinforced what the Englishman had learned along the way; blood is the harvest of all wars and there is an eternal need to esteem humanity above all races, ranks and religions. Many years later people find themselves again afraid, caught up in events they don’t understand. At such a moment, Darling’s ride, and his eternal message, reassures us that all mankind comes from the same light and some journeys will never be forgotten.  For more information, please go to Amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble.

Indian Journal, Fanny Duberly - It was a barbarous war and is known today by various names including the Indian Mutiny or the First War for Independence. Regardless of what it’s called, the struggle which swept across India in 1857 remains a blood-soaked memory, one wherein hordes of innocent civilians were wantonly slaughtered by merciless men on both sides. Having established an economic and political stranglehold over much of India by the mid-19th century, the merchant princes who ran the British East India Company were content to enjoy their profits in faraway London. Meanwhile, they left the actual running of the various seized principalities to a mercenary army, whose officers were primarily British and whose rank and file had been recruited from a variety of Indian races and religions.

In this climate of political complacency English expansionists treated their Indian subjects with contempt. Equally damaging was the unfounded rumour stating Indian princes would be forced to marry English widows so as to ensure a Christian succession. Worst of all were the reports that Indian soldiers would be forced to bite cartridges covered in pig or cow grease, a sacrilege supposedly designed by the British to break the religious laws of Moslem and Hindu recruits. When this political powder-keg exploded, the Indian soldiers revolted and murdered European officers and civilians. Thereafter a savage war raged across India pitting vengeful Europeans against outraged Indians. The carnage was indescribable.

In the middle of this politically inspired gang war appeared the “Heroine of the Crimea,” for thus was the author of this remarkable book known. Fanny Duberly had already kept a horde of guardian angels busy watching out for her welfare as she rode beside her husband, Captain Henry Duberly, through the recently concluded Crimean War, the same conflict during which Fanny had witnessed the infamous ‘charge of the Light Brigade.’ Now, with a new war afoot and her beloved Henry called to serve, the indomitable Fanny packed her pen and sailed to India alongside her husband and his men.

Though she was a hardened campaigner, the resultant 1,800 mile equestrian journey which Fanny undertook is a feat of endurance unequalled by any other 19th century female traveller. Ordered to cross the Rajastani desert, Fanny rode alongside Henry and his hussars through a sun-baked wilderness where the midday temperatures often reached 119 degrees in the author’s tiny tent. The indomitable Fanny witnessed battles, dodged cannon balls, dined with captured maharajahs and survived a battlefield surgical procedure that left a three inch hole in her body. This book, available for the first time in many years, is the astonishing true chronicle of a brave woman whose eyewitness account of a terrible conflict still resonates throughout India today.  Click here to go to Amazon.co.uk or Barnes & Noble.

Khyber Knights, CuChullaine O’Reilly - Few places on Earth were more dangerous in 1983 than Peshawar, Pakistan. With a savage war being waged a few miles away between the Soviet Union and the Afghan mujahideen, Peshawar had become the new Casablanca. When she wasn’t being bombed, her narrow streets hosted a swirling human cocktail of turbaned freedom fighters, tight-lipped foreign mercenaries, naïve foreign aid workers, cruel Pathan warlords, and more spies than ever lurked in Berlin.
Riding through this fiery forge was CuChullaine O’Reilly. The journalist who turned equestrian explorer was already familiar with Peshawar and the surrounding lawless portions of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. A convert to Islam, the wandering horseman was unfazed by religious obstacles, fluent in the patois of the tribesmen, and able to partake of any local offering from luke warm goat fat to sullied ditch water.
Setting off from Peshawar, O’Reilly began an equestrian odyssey into a mediaeval portion of the world devoid of mercy and machinery. His mission was to ride over some of the world’s highest mountain ranges, thread his way through untamed tribes, and miraculously get back to war-torn Peshawar. Yet the adventure he sought demanded a high price. His horse died and was eaten by eager natives. He was kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned in Pakistan’s most infamous prison, and met murderers, bandits, whores, and princes. Yet despite these setbacks, O’Reilly never lost hope that he would complete his mounted exploration of the remote and dangerous heart of Asia.
Lavishly illustrated with dozens of drawings and maps, the resulting book was compiled from the field notes, maps and diaries the author brought back from his travels. It includes an in-depth glossary of native words, and the largest collection of ethnological, historical, political, sexual, and religious information ever gathered about life in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.
“Khyber Knights” is thus a rare talisman against a world grown soft and predictable. Its pages burn with a bawdy portrayal of the darkest secrets of this cruel and beautiful region. It is a tissue of mishaps and romantic adventures, poetic passages and natural beauties, set to the echoing of horses’ hooves.
Told with grit and realism by one of the world’s foremost equestrian explorers, “Khyber Knights” has been penned the way lives are lived, not how books are written. It makes every effort to rip the reader’s nerves to rags with its ruthless devotion to the unvarnished truth about life in the North West Frontier.
You do not read “Khyber Knights”. You survive it!  Go to Amazon.co.uk or Barnes & Noble.

A Ride to India, Harry de Windt - Blame it on the Czar !  If Harry de Windt, that dashing 19th century Long Rider, had been allowed to follow his original plan, he would have galloped to India via the Central Asian satraps of His Imperial Russian Highness.  When suspicious St. Petersburg put a halt to Harry’s Russian route, the intrepid equestrian explorer determined to reach his goal via the Shah’s empire instead.

What followed was a ride to remember as Harry de Windt, lecturer, author, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and equestrian explorer par excellence, saddled up in 1890 and set off to examine the forgotten corners of Persia and Baluchistan.

The resultant journey was literally one for the record books as the redoubtable Harry proved time and again that he wasn’t going to be put off by a few minor inconveniences such as the weather, which ranged from an arctic storm in Persia that froze his cigar to his lips, to a howling desert wind in Baluchistan with temperatures nearing 120 degrees Fahrenheit!

Neither was handsome Harry bothered by the less than ideal accommodations he discovered.

“The floor was crawling with vermin but in Persia one must not be particular,” he casually observed.

Nor was our author overly concerned about his physical safety, dismissing the fact that the last foreign traveler who attempted this route had been “waylaid, robbed, tied to a tree, and left to starve.”

Though it reads like a mounted Jules Verne novel, “A Ride to India” is replete with the author’s scientific observations and appendices, including details from his exact route, “road overgrown, much camel thorn,” to Harry’s “Table of Languages in Baluchistan.”

Part science but all adventure, “A Ride to India” takes the reader for a canter across the Persian Empire of a romantic and bygone age.  For more details visit Barnes & Noble or  Amazon.co.uk


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