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Gurkha Odyssey (Paperback)

Campaigning for the Crown

Military > Post-WWII Warfare P&S History > By Century > 19th Century WWI WWII

By Sir Peter Duffell
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781399021920
Published: 3rd October 2023



Star review

As reviewed by Allan Mallinson for the Times Literary Supplement, March 2020. Read the review in full online here.

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“A compelling journey through Gurkha history – written with grace and style – it is indeed a wonderful read” - Field Marshal Lord Bramall KG GCB OBE MC

It is 1814 and the Bengal Army of the Honourable East India Company is at war with a marauding Nepal. It is here that the British first encounter the martial spirit of an indomitable foe – the Gurkha hillman from that mountainous independent land.

Impressed by their fighting qualities and with the end of hostilities in sight the Company begins to recruit them into their own ranks. Since then these light-hearted and gallant soldiers have campaigned wherever the British Army has served - from the North-West Frontier of India through two World Wars to the more contemporary battlefields of the Falkland Islands and Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, with well over one hundred battle honours to their name and at a cost of many thousands of casualties.

Seen through the prism of his own Regiment and service, General Duffell vividly recounts some of the history, character and spirit of these loyal and dedicated soldiers as well as his personal experience of campaigning with them. He has commanded Gurkha soldiers at every level from Subaltern to General while facing both operational and peacetime challenges. His service includes command of his Regiment and a Gurkha Brigade, as Major General of the Gurkha Brigade and as Colonel of his Regiment. He knows Nepal and its language well and has toured his Regiment’s historic battlefields in India and France.

Feature in remembrance of the author

The Times

As featured in


It is highly recommended as a great read, some of the exploits are breathtaking, although it might not be too conducive to falling into a gentle slumber if that's what you may be hoping!

Rated 4 anchors

Read the full review here

Navy Net

A beautiful book that, enriched by Ken Howard's fantastic drawings, cannot be missing on the shelves of military history and regimental traditions enthusiasts, an opportunity to get to know modern warriors beyond the myth that has been built (even with good reason) around them.

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

Gurkha Odyssey is an essential title on the bookshelf of any military history enthusiast. The author’s style is accessible and engaging.

Read the full review here


As featured in

Daily Telegraph 15/08/20

A well written history of these fierce troops

Militaria & History

It is a celebration of the virtues of the Gurkha soldier as well as a personal journey. A brilliant book.

Josh Pravan – Adventures in History Land

General Sir Peter Duffell, a former Commander British Forces Hong Kong
and Gurkha Officer himself brings an experienced eye to this personal survey of what drives, and what makes Gurkhas so distinctive.

National Army Museum

Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell explores the enduring fascination of the Gurkha soldier.

Home Front – Friends of The Royal Hospital Chelsea

Duffell describes a Hong Kong rocked by riots during the 1960s – events that resonate today as the city again struggles with unrest.

South China Morning Post

A great testimony for the enormous contribution Gurkhas have made over the years.

James Holland – military historian and author

There have been many books written about Gurkhas but few with so deep an understanding of the cultural, historical and spiritual dimension, and none with so acute a view of the future.

Allan Mallinson – military historian and author

A compelling journey through Gurkha history – written with grace and style – it is indeed a wonderful read.

Field Marshal Lord Bramall KG GCB OBE MC

A very interesting book.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

... this is an engagingly written, enjoyable read, fully reflecting the admiration and affection felt for these special soldiers.

Friends of the National Army Museum newsletter - reviewed by Editor, Phil McCarty MA

An inspiring journey, delightfully related.

Times Literary Supplement

This is a most readable book in which the author strikes the right balance between the military enthusiast and the general reader.

Medal News, March 2020 – reviewed by Allan Stanistreet

His [Peter Duffell] concern is not to provide a comprehensive account but rather to paint a more intimate picture, bringing out the character and spirit of these loyal and dedicated soldiers. In this he succeeds admirably.

History of War

To the British public, amongst the most respected and best loved British regiments and soldiers are the Gurkhas. The author has campaigned with the Gurkha soldier, trekked through their hill villages and fought for them in the corridors of Whitehall. – Most Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


As featured by

The Armourer, February 2020

I predicted soon after the launch that if Gurkha Odyssey was even half as well written as General Duffell’s eloquent and sincerely delivered talk, then it would be a brilliant book and I am delighted to assure you that I feel 100% justified in that prediction.

Read the full review here

Adventures in History Land

Compelling, gripping read. A must buy for any military enthusiast. A remarkable achievement

Amazon Customer

Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell’s story succinctly describes the many conflicts that the Gurkhas have been involved in since 1815 and modestly charts his distinguished career. At times this book has a light and humorous touch but frequently very poignant pieces describing the Gurkhas bravery and loyalty. Once started Gurkha Odyssey is hard to put down and I recommend it without any reservations.

Amazon Customer

Loved the history and the passion that the author conveyed the history and the contribution of the Gurkha's to the British Army. His personal experiences and admiration of the Gurkha's he served with very touching and revealed a number unique experiences you don't get from a book written from a pure historian.

Amazon Customer

Peter Duffell’s thoughtful, amiable and idiosyncratic journey through Gurkha history.

Country Life, December 2019 – reviewed by Allan Mallinson

This volume is well-written and eminently-readable... this is a delightful book that is both a history lesson and an autobiography.

Military modellers might find the uniforms illustrated in the coloured images section to be of interest, while a reader wishing for a militarily-flavoured autobiographical volume may also find it worthy of their attention.

Keith Rimmer, NZ Crown Mines

An odyssey is a long eventful journey and an appropriate title for this book. The story is of the author’s journey with and in the Gurkha ‘family’. The manner of its telling, in the main, is like a dinner party conversation with an excellent raconteur. In the telling not only do we see the Gurkhas but we see the author. Peter Duffell is a fighting man both with his men in the jungles of Borneo and for his men in the corridors of Whitehall. The period covered is from the early 1960s to 2018 with some coverage of early history. The unit focused on is the 2nd Gurkhas and therefore sadly does not include the Gurkha contribution to the Falklands war [7th Gurkhas].
The book is well illustrated with a dozen pages of colour plates and some super Ken Howard drawings. Nine maps, all with scales, help in the telling of the journey. There is more to Gurkha history than told here and this book is a taster which will leave you wanting to find out more.
Gurkha Odyssey is a most enjoyable cover to cover read which we highly recommend.

See the full review here

Clash of Steel

As featured by

Nepali Times, 15th October 2019
Sir Peter Duffell

About Sir Peter Duffell

Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell KBE CBE MC was commissioned into the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in 1960. As a young company commander, he was awarded the Military Cross leading his Gurkhas in clandestine operations against Indonesia in the 60s. As the General Commanding British Forces in Hong Kong between 1989 and 1992 he served there during a challenging period for the Territory, before becoming the British Army’s Inspector General. On retirement he worked for 20 years for an American company in London, New York, Beijing and Moscow. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and a Trustee of the Foyle Foundation, which supports the Arts. For several years he was a member of the Advisory Board of the School of Oriental and African Studies. He has lectured widely on the Gurkha soldier and Hong Kong.

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