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Sandy Gall's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Sandy Gall recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Sandy Gall's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Recommended by Sandy Gall, and 1 others.

Sandy GallLady Sale was the wife of a very senior British soldier called Brigadier Sale during the first Anglo-Afghan war. They were in Kabul when the whole thing collapsed. The British commander was William Elphinstone, who, it was said, was mostly laid up with gout and couldn’t really function – it’s no wonder that we made such a mess of it. Lady Sale watches all this and this book is her diary of all... (Source)

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Both an official chronicle and the highly personal memoir of the emperor Babur (1483–1530), The Baburnama presents a vivid and extraordinarily detailed picture of life in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India during the late-fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries. Babur’s honest and intimate chronicle is the first autobiography in Islamic literature, written at a time when there was no historical precedent for a personal narrative—now in a sparkling new translation by Islamic scholar Wheeler Thackston.

This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition includes notes, indices, maps,...
Recommended by Sandy Gall, Penelope Hobhouse, and 2 others.

Sandy GallHe was the first Mughal emperor. He was born north of Afghanistan in the Fergana Valley in today’s Uzbekistan. He spent most of his life fighting. When he was a young and up-and-coming princeling he tried to capture Kabul but failed. He captured Delhi in 1526. He then returned to Afghanistan and captured Kabul. (Source)

Penelope HobhouseHe was a great warrior and commander but also with a wonderful eye for nature and landscape. It’s rare to combine warfare and gardening. (Source)

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Afghanistan, written in 1973, looks at this age old land and country as it was before the Soviet invasion. It contains two epilogues; one written in 1978 and the other in 1980 right before the Soviet invasion. Afghanistan traces the development of this country from tribal and politically unstable towards a system of representative government consistent with its cultural and historical patterns. The book traces the socio-economic, cultural and political development of this rugged country and can serve as an indicator of things to come in this unsettled land. Apart from the... more
Recommended by Sandy Gall, and 1 others.

Sandy GallHe was an American anthropologist and historian who became fascinated by Afghanistan. He spent every summer in the country with his wife Nancy. She’s still alive and has a considerable Afghan archive which she recently moved from Pakistan to Kabul University. This archive has been her life’s work, plus she wrote some excellent guidebooks about Afghanistan, which are fascinating because they... (Source)

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The Road to Oxiana

In 1933 the delightfully eccentric Robert Byron set out on a journey through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad and Teheran to Oxiana -the country of the Oxus, the ancient name for the river Amu Darya which forms part of the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. His arrival at his destination, the legendary tower of Qabus, although a wonder in itself, it not nearly so amazing as the thoroughly captivating, at times zany, record of his adventures.

In addition to its entertainment value, The Road to Oxiana also serves as a rare account of the architectural...

Nicholas ShakespeareByron was Chatwin’s first conscious model. The book is a candid account of a journey made in 1933 in search of Seljuk tombs. (Source)

Colin ThubronOxiana is a coinage of his, and it doesn’t geographically specifically exist. It was a way of saying Persia (as it was to him) and Afghanistan. Byron’s journey starts in Venice and ends in what is now Pakistan. He went there in 1933-34, not long before he died in World War II, drowned when his ship was torpedoed. Although the book is terrifically chauvinistic – he’s appalling when he writes about... (Source)

Tim Mackintosh-SmithI recently wrote about this book and hooked what I wrote on what Chatwin said about it – that it was a sacred text – and what Wilfred Thesiger said, which was that it was a lot of nonsense. I think you can reconcile these views. It’s actually why I like the book. It’s sacred nonsense, or Robert Byron is a holy fool, if that makes sense. It’s nonsense because he sort of explodes the usual... (Source)

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When Eric Newby, fashion industry worker and inexperienced hill walker, decided after 10 years in haute couture he needed a change he took 4 days training in Wales then walked the Hindu Kush. This is his account of an entertaining time in the hills! less
Recommended by Sandy Gall, and 1 others.

Sandy GallWell, it’s terribly funny. I think Eric Newby is one of the best travel writers Britain has ever produced. I love reading this book. I’ve read it two or three times, and each time I fell about laughing. He writes terribly well. Evelyn Waugh actually wrote the preface to this book thinking it was by another Eric Newby, and ended up admiring this one. The book is about Newby and his young diplomat... (Source)

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