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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  • Tee

    I just bought murder in Samarkand and will for sure be asking Santa for Madter of the great game.

    Thanks for all you do and for the valuable update on JA.

  • Chris Swan

    I was pleasantly surprised to find the book available (and very reasonably priced) on Kindle last night so I bought it straight away. I’ve only made it through the foreword so far, but I’m looking forward to the rest.

      • Sixer

        Authors with publishers will have a contract royalty for e-book sales as they have for physical book sales. I think the current average is 25% ebook and 15% physical book, or similar, but can obviously vary. This will apply to Craig.

        Self publishers get paid by Amazon if they choose Kindle and there are various royalty options from about 35% to about 75%.

        Craig: have bought a copy. Will try to review, time allowing.

  • TJ

    While I completely disagree with you on Scottish independence and the virtues of the EU I do admire your resolute stand on torture and the rule of law, and just for that I have bought a copy.

  • ben

    ordered a hardback last night on amazon.. so psyched for this book, it sounds fantastic from the blurb, and obviously i’ve enjoyed your writings on this blog for years so i’m sure i’ll enjoy it very much. might get my dad a copy for xmas too. your existence in this world gives me some hope amongst the despair. Long before Corbyn came along, you gave me faith that there are decent people within the machine of power. Anyway, regardless of personal platitudes, this Burnes character sounds like someone i definitely need to know about.
    can’t wait.

  • Stephen

    It is currently out of stock with Hive, although I did make a purchase as they said they would have copies again soon. Using Hive enables you to also support a local independent bookshop with a percentage of the sales and it has free postage. Also, if you use the code VCHIVE16 at the checkout, you should get an additional 5% knocked off the price (total cost just £17.72). I’ve been looking forward to reading this for a while Craig!

  • AdrianD

    Are there any plans for an audiobook version? I’ve just bought an ebook edition, but even though speech synthesis has come a long way in recent years for us partially sighted folk, I sill prefer a nicely narrated one. For non-fiction books this ideally would come straight from the, er, horses mouth.

    I was surprised by the discount for ebooks – which reminded me of this (‘I’d happy sell my house and all it’s possessions…’):


    Best of luck with it Craig.

  • Conjunction

    I ordered this on Amazon months ago. About two weeks ago I noticed that the listing on my list of orders seemed defunct but Amazon had another listing for it which wasn’t so I cancelled my original order and put in a new one.

    On reading this posting I checked my order again and was surprised to see my order was now for a full price book, whereas my memory is that they had offered me a discount. It is very unusual for Amazon not to offer a discount.

    Hive say they are out of stock. I am going to wait a couple of weeks until supplies seem steady and then buy. I have no problem paying the full price if necessary but will try to get it cheaper if I can and don’t want to be messed about.

    I have just recently reread half of your African book (because I wanted to revisit Uncle Tony’s complicity over Sierra Leone) and need no reminding about the quality of your writing.

  • Neil

    Pre-ordered it on Amazon yonks ago (I think when you first announced it). Quite something, as I really, really loathed history as a subject at school, a deep visceral hatred, and dropped it at the earliest opportunity (age 14) . Sorry Craig, but at least I’m buying your book! The loathing still hasn’t completely gone away, but my long period of editing at Wikipedia has made me realise that a good knowledge of history can be a very valuable asset there.

    Just looked at my a/c on Amazon, and it says “Arriving 26 Oct – 10 Nov. Not yet dispatched”. This is the first time that a pre-ordered book has failed to arrive before the due date. Hope this info helps, and keep up the good work!

  • Kangaroo

    Easy to buy here in Oz on kindle. Looking forward to reading it.

    Thanks for everything you do Craig. If you come out here I’ll definitely look you up and buy you at least a few malts.


  • DoNNyDaRkO

    Bought as a 58th Birthday present to myself. Hope its as entertaining as your last books, and hope they go like ” warme Semmeln “

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Most eager to buy the book for myself, and a few copies for like-minded friends.

    Publishing a book and selling it is always the hardest part of the exercise.

    Still have not found it in any shop in New Haven, and they have been unable to find it on any supplier.

    Seems it won;t be available until February 2017. Will try again today.

    Any clarification?

  • Sharp Ears

    I wish you had a donate button Craig. It was so easy to send Neil Clark a donation for his legal fight against Kamm.

    I’m sorry that now I haven’t got the stamina or the time (house and garden neglected for 2 yrs) to read but would willingly send money for you to put copies in libraries of your choice.

    Best wishes for the book and your work.

    • Republicofscotland

      Ask the poor souls who are currently sanctioned by Westminster, if they can afford a book?

      Or the hard pressed folk using foodbanks, you really must get out of the barracks, and see the real world now and again. The same could be said, of those, in the Westminster bubble, who are way, way out of touch with reality.

      • Anon1

        If you offered to give away a million free meals, then a million would be taken. They are taken because the money otherwise spent on food can then be spent on non-essential goods. Nobody is dying of starvation in this country.

    • Habbabkuk

      I am puzzled as to the relevance of the above from Sharp Ears to Craig’s post. Well on the first page, I note.

      Also puzzled as to how someone who has not the time or the stamina to read the book (not being interested in the subject is another matter entirely, of course) manages to find the time and stamina to post regularly on this blog as well as on at least one other?

      Be that as it may, the idea of donating a new copy to a public library is a good one. I shall consider this idea carefully ( a direct donation, not via Craig, would be easier and more thoughtful of Craig’s time).

      • Sharp Ears

        Why is that comment @ 19.25 allowed? Surely how I spend my remaining days on this earth is my business alone and is no business of the poster. Irrelevant too.

        The poster should also ask himself/herself why I found it necessary to leave this blog at one stage.

        • Habbabkuk

          1/. My wondering was entirely legitimate, surely? After all, it was you who told us that you haven’t the time or energy to read Craig’s book.

          2/. It was established a long while ago that you left the blog because you were displeased at having a couple of your posts deleted by the Mod(s).


          I suggest we do not get personal and that we lay off the insults. I believe it was you who opened hostilities again by writing “Do not feed the trolls” in response to a post of mine.

  • My Cocaine

    “and in that case you would much oblige me by asking for it from your local library.”

    Mr Murray, I don’t know if you’re aware of the Public Lending Right (PLR) a scheme in which the government pays authors a small sum (up to £6000 per year depending on how popular your book is) every time your book(s) is borrowed from a library.

    So even if you can’t afford this book, people can borrow it and still help Mr Murray on the financial side.

  • david kelly

    I bought a paper copy from the hive. I will not use Amazon because… well surely everyone on this website knows. I do not read books, preferring electronic reading but it is a gift for my partner. Hive is out of stock, but no rush

  • Bob Smith

    Have just ordered from Hive who are much cheaper than Amazon, offer free postage and donate a small percentage to a local bookshop. Really looking forward to reading it.

  • NomadUK

    Just now bought the Kindle edition (sadly, I don’t buy physical books often these days — I know, that’s bad, but where would I put them all?).

    Very much looking forward to reading it!

  • Juteman

    Will pop into Waterstones tomorrow, Craig.
    This world needs independent thinkers.

    I’ll send my copy to Fred after I’ve read it. It must get lonely in in his Motte and Bailey, surrounded by woad painted hordes.

  • Republicofscotland

    Yes, the Great Satan (consecutive US governments) make rumblings, and the world must tremble in its boots. However Spain’s actions, in refuelling Russian ships, present or past, of any category, are not breaking any laws.

    • Kempe

      A bit bizarre that Spain, a NATO and EU member, should’ve agreed to refuel Putin’s rust-buckets in the first place. I wonder how the Russians would react if a US carrier group asked to refuel in Vladivostok.

      it also exposes further deficiencies in the Russian navy that haven’t got sufficient tankers and supply ships to keep the fleet at sea.

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        Just your usual Russophobia.

        Putin’s request was just to see how the revived government in Madrid would react.

        It ended up showing that it could be pushed around by NATO’s war mongers according to the Mediterranean Dialogue.

        Remember when that Germanwings plane, piloted bt Andreas Kubitz, crashed with those Spanish spooks on board, looking into what the Dialogue was up to, and the Spanish government didn’t make a stink about it.

        Now NATO hqs. in Brussels knows that Spain is in its court.

        The fact that Putin has now canceled the request shows that there is no shortage of oil.

        It was all about European politics

        And you sound as bad as the British tabloids on the subject.

        • Kempe

          Actually over 60 Russian ships have refuelled and re-supplied in Ceuta since 2010, permission is granted on a case by case basis so Putin had no need to test the waters here.

          There are other ports on the North African coast from which they can refuel.

      • Republicofscotland

        Bizarre, not really trade is trade, Nato or not, I could imagine that quite a few Nato and EU nations internal businesses, are, rather miffed at the sanctions imposed on Russia.

        Of course if Spain doesn’t refuel Putin’s warships, there’s always someother enterprising nation, waiting in the wings to take over the mantle.

        As for rust buckets, at least they have a operational carrier, with real jets. I recall the HMS Queern Elizabeth, or whatever pompus name they dubbed the first carrier, sitting in the dock at Rosyth dockyard, waiting to be fitted out.

        Sitting on the take off ramp, was a plastic jet, with a paper mache nose cone, no doubt there was huge rubber band on board, to launch the airfix jet.

        • Kempe

          At least we are building new carriers even if one is going straight into reserve. Putin would love to build some more big carriers but the old Soviet yard that built Kunetsov is now in Ukraine.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Certainly Obama, now only 55, represented new blood, and yet turned out to be a great disappointment for those not just meeting their bills.

      Need someone who has brains, an ability to raise enough money honestly, and cannot be corrupted by the covert government.

    • Republicofscotland

      It will never happen, I’m just waiting to read that Chelsea Clinton, is running for some office in the States.

      The old devil himself, is still alive and well, Kissinger, was in the UK last week, he met with Theresa May, probably plotting and scheming, as usual.

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