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Spying for Empire (Hardback)

The Great Game in Central and South Asia, 1757-1947

All Greenhill Books Greenhill: 19th Century

By Robert Johnson
Greenhill Books
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781853676703
Published: 15th March 2006
Last Released: 14th September 2008

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'A highly readable account of British intelligence operations in India and Central Asia that is bursting with memorable characters and incisive insights' - Mark Urban, Diplomatic Editor of BBC's Newsnight and bestselling author of Rifles • Story of the struggle for imperial influence in central Asia • Fascinating insight into how the British intelligence network worked • An engrossing study of individual agents and the politics that governed them 'The Great Game' was the struggle between Russia and Britain for imperial influence over southern and central Asia, immortalised by Rudyard Kipling in his novel Kim. For the British, the threat to India's frontiers compelled them to dispatch diplomats, or more clandestine agents, to survey, map and monitor the approaches to the Indian subcontinent. Anxieties about Russian ambitions in central Asia were magnified by the discovery of military plans and the arrival of 'shooting parties' and 'scientific explorers' on the mountains adjacent to India's northern border. The British faced major problems compounded by the unresolved status of Afghanistan, the interception of agents, and the division of opinion in British military and political circles about the real or imagined nature of the Russian threat to India. The situation was further complicated by the instability of the Indian border area, a region through which British and Indian troops would need to operate in wartime, but which was inhabited by bellicose tribesmen who fought the imposition of British rule every step of the way. Spying for Empire gives a fascinating insight into how the British intelligence network worked in the 1800s. It also examines how the intractability of Afghanistan plagued imperial defence planners, and how the threat of conflict with Russia coloured Britain's dealings with the peoples of south-west Asia. Dr Rob Johnson is a History Lecturer at Warwick University and is the author of British Imperialism: Histories and Controversies and A region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts,1947-2001.

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