Wednesday July 06 2022



Village History

Tale of a shameful conquest

Posted on August 30 2019 at 9:41:47 0 comments

Village Book Review
The Trials of Eldred Pottinger: Soldier, Spy, Hero. . . Coward?

by Nigel Hastilow


Journalist and former Barnt Green resident Nigel Hastilow has created a fictionalised account of true events that reads like a novel but reveals a fascinating insight into a “shameful conquest”, writes Sally Oldaker.

It tells the tale of early-Victorian soldier Eldred Pottinger, an Irishman in the East India Company who is caught up in the British invasion of Afghanistan.

Initially celebrated as a hero, he is eventually stitched up as a scapegoat for the disastrous retreat from Kabul, and the book skips back and forth as Eldred recounts his earlier exploits and awaits court-martial.

The present-tense, first-person narrative device really thrusts readers into the heart of the story, with vivid descriptions of the confusing array of cruel and capricious chieftans and the exotic lands that quickly turn from paradise to nightmare.

Prepare for your blood to boil as Eldred is used as a pawn in the hands of his arrogant superiors with their hidden agenda – seeking regime change in order to protect their grip on India – and at the era’s less-than-enlightened attitudes towards women, servants and “natives”, especially Muslims.

You’ll be angry, you’ll be sad that the lessons of history have still not been learnt, but you’ll also be entertained by this well-written and researched book. Don’t Google Eldred’s fate – read this and find out for yourself!

The Trials of Eldred Pottinger is available from Amazon and all good bookshops.

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