Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Chs. 18-22

Chapter 18 - Night of the Long Knives

  • "In addition to its heavy commitment in Afghanistan, in China the first of the Opium Wars was well into it second year, while nearer to home there were serious troubles brewing with both France and the United States." - 233
  • November 1, 1841: Alexander Burnes is warned by a Kashmiri assistant that "an attempt was to be made on his life that night. It was Burnes whom many Afghans held responsible for bringing the British to Afghanistan" - 239
Chapter 19 - Catastrophe

  • "According to his friend Mohan Lal, Burnes had viewed the situation as anything but tranquil, even if he had gravely underestimated his own personal danger that night. On the previous evening he had declared that 'the time is not very far off when we must leave this country.'" - 245
  • "Mohan Lal was authorised to offer a reward of 10,000 rupees to anyone who succeeded in assassinating one of the principal rebel leaders." - 246
  • "Mohammed Akbar Khan, favourite son of the exiled Dost Mohammed, was on his way from Turkestan to take personal command of what had now become a full-scale insurrection against the British and their puppet ruler." - 247
  • "Whereas it has become apparent from recent events that the continuance of the British Army in Afghanistan for the support of Shah Shujah is displeasing to the great majority of the Afghan nation, and whereas the British Government had no other object in sending troops to this country than the integrity, happiness and welfare of the Afghans, it can have no wish to remain when that object is defeated by its presence." - Mohammed Akbar Khan, 252
Chapter 20 -Massacre in the Passes

  • January 1, 1842: "an agreement was signed with Akbar under which he guaranteed the safety of the departing British, and promised to provide them with an armed escort to protect them from the hostile tribes through whose territories they must pass." - 259
  • "Dr. Brydon was the only one of the 16,000 souls who had left Kabul to complete the terrible course and reach Jalalabad in safety -- and the first, on that fateful thirteenth day of January, 1842, to break the news of the disaster which had overtaken Elphinstone's army to a horrified nation." - 268
Chapter 21 - The Last Hours of Conolly and Stoddart

  • "Far from establishing a friendly rule in Afghanistan to buttress India against Russian encroachments, it had led instead to one of the worst disasters ever to overtake a British army...It was a devastating blow to British pride and prestige." - 270
  • "With Shah Shujah dead, Kabul was now kingless, and Pollock, the senior of the two commanders [who had retaken the city on September 15], who had been invested with political authority by Lord Ellenborough, immediately placed Shujah's son Futteh on the throne, thereby making him too a British puppet." - 275
  • October 11, 1842: the British "hauled down the Union Jack over Bala Hissar, and the next morning the first units marched away from Kabul. The First Afghan War, as historians now call it, was finally over. Within three months Shah Shujah's son had been overthrown, and Dost Mohammed was allowed by the British to return unconditionally to the throne from which he had been removed at such terrible cost...Events had come full circle." - 277
Chapter 22 - Half-time

  • "The Russians pushed forward their line of fortresses across the lawless Kazakh Steppe....The British were even more active during this period of detente. In 1843, following their humiliation in Afghanistan, they had seized Sind -- 'like a bully who has been kicked in the street and goes home to beat his wife in revenge,' observed one critic." - 282
  • March 2, 1855: "as the Russian surrender [in the Crimean War] became inevitable, Tsar Nicholas, whose attack on Turkey had begun the war, sunk deeper and deeper into despair. He finally died in the Winter Palace, from where he had personally commanded the Russian forces...Officially the cause was said to be influenza, but many believed that he had taken poison rather than witness the defeat of his beloved army." - 286
  • October 25, 1856: Herat falls to the Persians - 288
  • August 1858: "in an attempt to resolve the deep resentments and antagonisms which had led to the Mutiny, the British government passed the India Act, abolishing the powers of the [East India] Company and transferring all authority to the Crown." - 291

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