Why I Need Alexander Burnes, and You Do Too 351

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

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  • DavidH

    Thanks, Craig – sounds a right good read. I just ordered mine on Hive and it will be sent as soon as they have stocks. I was pleased to see they deliver to Thailand and it was cheaper than Amazon so thanks also for that tip. Ordered Murder in Samarkand as well at the same time as I’ve been meaning to read that for a while. Can’t wait to get them!

    BTW – If you can arrange a reading in Bangkok then drop me a line and I’ll supply the Laphroaig to loosen the vocal cords…

      • craig Post author

        It’s interesting because it’s not referenced on the front page or indeed anywhere I can find, yet somehow people are finding it and commenting.

        • Alcyone

          Craig, check this out:

          They claim to be the World’s largest Literature Festival. They have even ‘arrived’ at the Southbank Centre in London, so there undoubtedly is recognition. Should be quite easy to access their programme and stage. Do give me a sign if you need help, else you could pick up with Dalrymple who knows them well and has been there, done that; although it’s not the most important referral you want from him if you are making a shopping list. Another person you should call is Vikram Seth, not in this connection, generally. And I suspect Arundhati is very accessible too.

          Am sure you are feeling more positive this morning. Good luck!

          PS If you’re going to India, get on the programme in advance at the India International Centre in Delhi. Again, let me know if you need a convincing introduction.

  • Paul Adamson

    Book is out of stock at The Hive and Amazon…I will try again though. Thanks for your all hard work and for the fascinating articles you provide. I enjoy them very much.

  • Peter Birbeck

    Hi, I have purchased the book online as a download for my kindle app. I mostly read on a tablet. Needless to say it is considerably cheaper to buy using this method and mode. I am looking forward to reading this book.

  • Mark Golding

    The hard copy will shine on any bookshelf but more than that it radiates the exquisite and peerless percipience of it’s owner and a reasonable liberal clue to those that entangle. Bravo!

  • Dourani

    Thanks for Lysias,

    This caught my eye from that John Pilger link:

    ”….Clinton may well become the most dangerous president of the United States in my lifetime –a distinction for which the competition is fierce….’

  • Ba'al Zevul

    He is merely trying to make himself look important, as his former clients realise that they’ve been paying big bucks for hot air, and quietly peel off. This was presented as his own decision, but there are good grounds for thinking it wasn’t (see Blair Miles, passim). The remainers are happy to have him on side, but don’t realise what a toxic brand he is, or indeed, what a control freak. It’s rather tragic that the BBC hangs on his every drop of drool, still, and that it regards someone who couldn’t wait to detach himself from UK politics and start raking it in, as in any way a valid commentator, let alone a potential policymaker.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    It’s my. probably vain, hope that this will encourage some enterprising Brits to (a) make their own, and/or (b) be able to look where they’re going instead of texting their mates that they’re on the pavement.


    I’m happy to buy the ebook. I’m sure it will be entertaining and informative in addition to providing some small support for your work on this blog and elsewhere.

    I look forward to reading it next week. I’m normally a pretty slow reader [I blame the experimental ITA (initial teaching alphabet) that I was a guinea pig for at primary school]. This can mean I struggle with reading large amounts for work or study but I do get more pleasure when reading for pleasure.

  • Pádraig Ó Raghaill

    Looking for it in Ireland, before supporting the online. So far no luck in local shops. 🙁

    Just a thought Craig, it is easy to put a Stripe.com widget into WordPress and you could sell signed copies that way or WooCommerce works well. (not a fan of PayPal) and Stripe is Irish 🙂

  • Squonk

    Review in The Sun!!


    If you’re a fan of the Flashman Papers series of books, you will be griped by the story of this British spy.

    In his new book Sikunder Burnes – Master of the Great Game, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray explores Alexander Burnes, whose life had more than a little Flashman to it and is among the most riveting in history.

    • Tymek Majewski

      Actually, it is available in hardcover at bookdepository.com

      It’s 45% off for A$32.81 including free delivery to Australia.

      Mr. Murray, I just sumbled upon your blog and I’m not into biographies – why should still get the book?

  • Old Mod Jon

    Just ordered the book at Waterstones in Birmingham. I’m not the first either, the store assistant remarked that someone else has it on order too! Hopefully these two orders result in some more pre-orders from the shop – it is a fairly large outlet.

    As a result of it being new, the assistant could not say when it would be delivered, which may deter some people from ordering. It is always nice to know (roughly) when one can come in to pick up an item, and of course people generally want things quickly. I wonder also if their computer system has wonky data on it – she said the same book by the same author had been published in ’88 or ’98 by a different publisher? Hopefully that does not cause errors, if people try to order whatever that was!

  • Erica Shipley

    I dropped into Daunts bookshop in Cheapside today and asked for Sikunder Burnes. The assistant had not heard of it and it was not in stock. I ordered a copy and suggested they get some for their shelves.

  • Paul V

    Ordered mine today from Waterstones in Leadenhall Market, City of London. None in stock in any Waterstones anywhere but assistant said official publication date is 4 November. As the book is not with their wholesaler it’s expected to take up to 5 working days to reach this store.

  • Paul Scrivener

    I have been fascinated by Burnes for years and the ‘Great Game’. Ordered from my local bookshop in Royal Wootton Bassett.

  • AJ Finch

    Hi, Craig,
    You asked for comments on our experience of buying the book, so I’d just like to say that I bought it from Daunt Books on Cheapside. They didn’t have it in stock, but ordered it in with no problems. It took a few days to arrive.
    I’d also like to say that I have bought it explicitly to support you, because your blog is a unique and important resource, and I hope you keep doing it for many years to come!

  • R. KatieAnn

    I’ve purchased the ebook version of it, mostly on the strength of reviews, and the strength of a video I saw of you giving testimony about the govt use of fabricated evidence of chemical weapons as the rationale for going in to Iraq. You spoke with such clarity and conviction, truly it was a pleasure to witness. So when I came here and saw that you had a novel on matters related to spies and the East India Company…how could I resist? Thanks for your eloquence, and best wishes with the book!

  • Rick Stevens

    I would be tempted to buy this book through Amazon but unfortunately, Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, is also the owner of the Washington Post, so I would have an ideological conflict of interest to address. In short, I cannot in good conscience use Amazon for anything any more. lest I become a supporter of WaPo’s style of yellow journalism, albeit indirectly. Alas, such is the world in which we find ourselves.

  • Ruth

    i have now bought two copies – i decided my dad would like to read it too.
    I am looking forward to reading after my husband – its his xmas present too.

    The first one came very quickly too

  • Rhys Jaggar

    SUrely ‘master of shagging Asian women’ is more relevant? I mean could you have lived in Haggis Land with an harem of Scottish lassies without serious ostracism by the Kirk?

    So the ultimate truth of the Empire was that you behaved licentiosly abroad.

    Whether such behaviour was normal or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is the absolute hypocrisy of the ruling order, trying to impose Christianity on the masses whilst philandering with aplomb themselves. What is sauce the the upper class geese is sauce for the masses of ganders…..

    Is it not about time that children at school were taught to idolise hypocrisy??

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