The year is 2020. The Mexican President has provoked the United States by calling for the removal of US troops from Colombia and demanding higher prices for Mexico's oil. But the country's satellite communications system is controlled in Miami and suddenly Mexico is deprived of phone, fax and email. In a country where politicians never put anything in writing, letters are now the only way to communicate, leaving the private lives and true feelings of all brutally exposed. Especially regarding the hot topic of the day: Who will be the next President, the next to ascend the Eagle's Throne?
As the characters struggle to identify and ally themselves to the future President, the letters fly ever faster. Who will be the victor? Handsome Nicolás Valdivia? Bald satyr Tácito de la Canal? Or the 'unsavoury' ex-President César León? There are many questions to be answered before the last letter is sent.
In the spring of 1839, the British invaded Afghanistan for the first time. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed shakos, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the high mountain passes and re-established on the throne Shah Shuja ul-Mulk.
On the way in, the British faced little resistance. But after two years of occupation, the Afghan people rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into violent rebellion. The First Anglo-Afghan War ended in Britain's greatest military humiliation of the nineteenth century: an entire army of the then most powerful nation in the world ambushed in retreat and utterly routed by poorly equipped tribesmen.
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2013, Return of a King is the definitive analysis of the First Afghan War, told through the lives of unforgettable characters on all sides and using for the first time contemporary Afghan accounts of the conflict. Prize-winning and bestselling historian William Dalrymple's masterful retelling of Britain's greatest imperial disaster is a powerful and important parable of colonial ambition and cultural collision, folly and hubris, for our times.