The nineteenth century was the age of the adventurer. Alexander Gardner was an adventurer par excellence, too busy travelling in remote places to bother with anything as mundane as a diary. He spent thirteen years in disguise in the deserts of Central Asia and another thirteen as an officer in the Sikh army. Many regarded him as a scoundrel and a liar – labels he did little to counter. John Keay first wrote about Alexander Gardner, briefly, forty years ago. He remained intrigued and has now written an enthralling and entertaining biography of the elusive explorer.
‘John Keay has evidently formed a suitably sceptical affection for the old rogue…. Though he often pauses to analyse the evidence, the narrative never flags. It’s a masterly account of an extraordinary life in an extraordinary time and place; utterly entrancing.’ Allan Massie, The Scotsman
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