Why I Need Alexander Burnes, and You Do Too 364

‘Murray’s book is a terrific read. He has done full justice to the life of a remarkable British hero, without ignoring his faults’ — Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

‘An important re-evaluation of this most intriguing figure’ — William Dalrymple

‘This is a fascinating book … his research has been prodigious, both in libraries and on foot. He knows a huge amount about Burnes’s life and work’ —Allan Massie, The Scotsman

‘If you are a fan of the Flashman series of books, you will be gripped by the story of this British spy’ —Hannah Ferret, The Sun

This blog has been going for over ten years now and has never asked for money or taken advertising. In that time I have continually campaigned on a whole variety of issues, though chiefly human rights, Scottish independence, against war, and on the need for a profoundly more equal society. I have travelled the length and breadth of the UK and around the world to speak at literally hundreds of public meetings, and have appeared in numerous videos and documentaries. My primary purpose has always been as much to promote debate and the ability to think well outside the increasingly narrow box which society prescribes, as to convert to my own precise views.

And I have been paid for almost none of it. I do it entirely because I believe in it. I have never asked readers for cash to keep this blog going. I have never asked for a fee to speak in a good cause.


But I do ask you, now, to buy my book. I ask you to do this to get the book itself (and buy more for Christmas presents!) but also as a recompense to pay for any of my work you have enjoyed on this blog, or elsewhere, over the past decade. Sikunder Burnes is the result of eight years of unfunded hard work, and manuscript research in England, Scotland and India. It is, I believe, worth every penny it costs. I appreciate it is expensive, and I have no difficulty whatsoever if you prefer to buy the electronic version which is a great deal cheaper.

It is the story of the fascinating life of a man both caught up in, and attempting to shape, an astonishing period of Scottish, British, Indian, Pakistani, Kalati, Afghan, Uzbek, Iranian and Russian history. As I hope you would expect from me, it even bursts out from such a broad canvass into all kinds of unexpected intellectual directions, many of which surprised me too!

My preference would be for you to buy it from a bookshop if you can, because bookshops need support. Otherwise you can order it from thehive.co.uk (where it is currently cheaper) or from Amazon. Doubtless other online options are available. Unfortunately we live in a country where some people cannot afford a book, and in that case you would much oblige me by asking for it from your local library.

To tax your patience further, I should be most grateful if you could do a couple of other things. Firstly, once read leave a review of the book, on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other available forum. Please note that I am not asking you to puff the book – I should be very grateful if you could leave completely honest reviews.

Secondly, it would be very helpful if you could leave comments below on your experience of buying the book. If online, was it in stock, how quickly did it come and what did you pay? If in a bookshop, did they have it on a shelf, did they appear to have heard of it, did it have to be ordered in and how long did that take etc.? Library feedback is also most welcome. We will keep this page permanently available for comment on the blog, renamed The Sikunder Burnes Page. Your views on the book are also very welcome here.

Frankly, I do need the revenue from the book to keep going because at the moment finances are very tight. But it means more to me than that, in that it represents a step towards a new career direction where a shunned whistleblower might be permitted to work.

Please do buy, and enjoy, Sikunder Burnes.

Read Sikunder Burnes – the first 9 chapters for FREE!

Buy Amazon Hardback
Or Buy Kindle ebook
Or Buy Google Play Books
Or Buy Kobo ebook

UPDATE We are no longer selling signed editions from this blog, as we have run out. I have also finally given in and started accepting subscriptions to keep the blog going; its very success keeps making it more expensive to run.

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364 thoughts on “Why I Need Alexander Burnes, and You Do Too

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  • Aonghas MacIosaig

    My local bookshop indicated that they would order a paperback copy, but later phoned to say their distributor had sold all available copies and was unable to say if or when they would get more. They were charging $37 CDN for the paperback edition.
    I eventually turned to Amazon.ca to find that they had one (1) paperback copy available, which I now expect to receive in the post tomorrow. They are charging $33.50 CDN for the paperback.

  • Francesca MacDonald

    I went to Daunt Books in Holland Park Avenue, London as soon as bookshops were allowed to open – 29/30 June 2020. Could not find your book ‘Sikunder Burnes’ on the display shelves. The shop assistant looked it up and said they did have a copy but it was now ‘mysteriously’ lost! Ordered a copy, which I collected on 3 July. I have yet to read the book, which I hope will prove to be interesting.
    Liked your article on BBC adaptation of ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’ – very thorough and enlightening.

  • Rigby Taylor

    I bought the book this morning, and am starting to read it . I bought it as an eBook, from Rakuten-Kobo. it is au$6.00 more expensive there compared to Amazon, but I dislike Amazon’s business practices and also hoped you would receive a larger cut. This is the only book by you on the site. It is well presented and downloaded immediately, no problems. I will certainly leave reviews wherever I can. I also want to thank you for your work for human rights, especially for Julian Assange at the moment. After reading your most recent transcript of the court hearing, I was unable to sleep. Ha! In New Zealand we were brought up to worship British Justice and fair play. Proudly British. Cricket and all that, old chap. Thanks to the internet I have discovered the depth of British depravity especially during the colonial era. It was obvious, had we been encouraged to think! Right before my eyes the plight of the Maoris, and even worse of the Australian Aborigines. But no one questioned how one country could maintain a stranglehold on 1/3 of the planet without any violence… We learned the entire royal history and every single one of their magnificent wars as they spread sweetness and light across an unenlightened and savage world.
    I would love to sponsor you, but am only on a pension so haven’t much spare cash. I will buy your next book when it comes available, Sincere best wishes,
    Rigby Taylor.

  • Chris

    Just bought the hardback from berlin.co.uk as a small thank you for all your hard work this month reporting the Assange trial. Looks interesting. Delivery is free which is good but doesn’t say when it will arrive.

  • Nigel Marshall

    I would like to say how much I enjoyed Sikunder Burnes. Being an Ayrshire man it was very interesting to read about the connection with Burns the Poet. However the exploits of Burnes in Afghanistan and how he was misrepresented was not only interesting but most importantly have been addressed. Burnes was clearly a genius who was let down badly by his superiors. Craig Murray is very readable easily in the same league as William Dalrymple. I was so impressed with this book I sent a copy to a young soldier friend by the name of Burns stationed in Kabul.

  • Mhairi Skilling

    Bought on Amazon easily paperback for £13.79 plus postage after reading the sample pages it does`nt look as if there are many in stock.

  • Morwen Rowlands

    I will certainly order your book from my local library in Ynys Môn, Cymru. The service there is excellent.

    Pob dymuniad da! Pensioner.

  • Douglas Scott

    I bought an Amazon kindle version of the book. I am about half way through it and find it difficult to put down. The level of detail is immense and yet it is very readable. I learned of Burnes for the first time about 40 years ago via the first in the Flashman series. Your book is completing my education about this great Scotsman. Today we could do with more like him and the other Scotsmen and women who went forth from Scotland and built its international fame.

  • Nick H

    Will order from my local Waterstones (Twickenham) tomorrow. Will let you know if this proves difficult, although I can’t see why it should be the case.

  • Nick Halpin

    I’ve managed to get a copy of Sikunder Burnes. It was quite a journey. Waterstones said they did have it and couldnt order it from the Publisher. You should speak to them regarding Printing copies. Eventually managed to get a H/b copy from Amazon. It was their last copy apparently…

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Newman

    Hi, Craig.
    I’ve just come across your blog for the first time but much admired your principled stand all those years ago and have occasionally wished to be in touch.
    It’s the middle of the night and I need to sleep so no time for a long or deep trawl through possible shared interests – you can find me on twitter @JeffreyNewman.
    Just now to say ‘hi’ and thanks and I’ll try to look at Burnes

  • Graham Ogden

    Craig Murray was right to draw attention to the (short but packed) life of Alexander ‘Sikunder’ Burnes. It is an exhaustive account in which the author draws upon his own experience of diplomatic service to add nuance to the description of his life. It must have taken a huge effort to track down all those sources of information. Craig makes you interested in the man’s life. And what a life (which seems to mark the beginning of the Great Game)! For those interested in how the Great Game played out over the 19th & 20th century, it is book ended by Patrick French’s biography of Younghusband. You don’t have to have a pre-existing interest in empire to enjoy this book.

  • James Stannus

    I have tried to buy this book with no success. I am designed with my payment being paid. Is it just me? James Stannus

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