Afghan Frontier: Feuding and Fighting in Central Asia by Victoria Schofield

By Victoria Schofield

"Every rock, each hill has its story", Winston Churchill wrote of the North-West Frontier, and here's the entire tale of those turbulent lands. opposed to a history of the heritage and geography of the quarter, the writer paints a bright photo of this awesome position. Drawing on written documents, soldier's letters, memsahibs' journals, tourists' stories and primary hand adventure, Victoria Schofield unravels the heritage of the North-West Frontier layer by way of layer.

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A bottle of medicine which had been mixed in the hospital and sent across to the camp ‘was a solid block of ice before it reached us’. Dr Hugh Luard became very ill with constant diarrhoea all his life due to sleeping out in appalling weather conditions in the 1890s. With no tents the men made a rough hut of stones for the officers with a grass roof to try and afford some protection from torrential rains. But the storm continued: . . with violent wind that threatened to take the roof off; then tremendous thunder roaring round us, lightning and torrents of rain which soon soaked through the roof and ran through like a sieve: I shuffled round in a circle half asleep trying to find a place where my face was protected; roof, mud and water fell everywhere: in the middle of the night [I was] disturbed by fellows walking over me, kicking me, trying to find a dry place: in the morning the floor was full of puddles in which we were lying.

In peacetime, only caravans of camels pass that way. ‘The kingdom of Kabul’ 55 When Babur was in Kabul, where he lies buried, he took a special interest in the produce of the country: ‘Fruits of hot and cold climates are to be had in the districts near the town. Amongst those of cold climate, there are had in the town the grape, the pomegranate, apricot, apple, quince, pear, peach, plum,’ as well as almonds and walnuts. And he did not agree with Khushhal Khan who seemed to be the only person who thought Kabul was bleak: ‘It has a very pleasant climate; if the world has another one so pleasant, it is not known.

With violent wind that threatened to take the roof off; then tremendous thunder roaring round us, lightning and torrents of rain which soon soaked through the roof and ran through like a sieve: I shuffled round in a circle half asleep trying to find a place where my face was protected; roof, mud and water fell everywhere: in the middle of the night [I was] disturbed by fellows walking over me, kicking me, trying to find a dry place: in the morning the floor was full of puddles in which we were lying.

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