The Mulberry Empire, Paperback book

The Mulberry Empire[Paperback]

by Philip Hensher

3.40 out of 5 (5 ratings)

HarperCollins Publishers 
Publication Date:
03 February 2003 
Regional & National History 


The bestselling novel from the Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of The Northern Clemency and King of the Badgers. 'The Mulberry Empire' recounts an episode in the Great Game in central Asia - the courtship, betrayal and invasion of Afghanistan in the 1830s by the emissaries of Her Majesty's Empire, which is followed by the bloody and summary expulsion of the British from Kabul following an Afghani insurrection. At its heart the encounter between West and East, as embodied in the likeable, complex relationship between Alexander Burnes, leader of the initial British expeditionary party, and the wily, cultured Afghani ruler, the Amir Dost Mohammed Khan. For those who enjoyed William Dalrymple's 'Return of a King', 'The Mulberry Empire' is a must-read.

Showing 1-4 out of 5 reviews. Previous | Next

  • This book uses many different characters to explore life in the British Empire in England, Afghanistan and India. One of my favorite characters was the aristocrat Bella who has a love affair with the explorer Burnes. When Burnes returns to Afhanistan, Bella wastes away her life in the country, a very sad portrayal of wasted potential and lost love. The book is most suspenseful and dramatic in the Afghanistan parts, here we see the British try to befriend the Amir, in an effort to obtain his kingdom. Near the end the Afghanistan sections become increasingly terrifying and thrilling.

    5.00 out of 5


  • The Mulberry Empire deals with Britain's abortive attempt to take Kabul in 1839 under competition from the Russians. The story swings from Afghanistan to Moscow and London. Philip Hensher delivers luxurious sentences and interesting characters in all the settings. The book is attractively hefty so keep it back to read when you have time to wallow your way through it. What novels should be.

    5.00 out of 5


  • A strangely structured novel about Britain's early attempts to control Afghanistan in the mid 19th Century, it is told through the stories of a wide range of characters, only some of whom are integral to the story. It is interesting and written with a nice style. Ultimately, I felt it didn't quite work as a novel, but it kept me reading to the end.

    3.50 out of 5


  • Interesting and erudite novel which provides detailed character sketches of some individuals involved in the first Afghan and a very sketchy coverage of what happened.

    3.00 out of 5


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