Author(s): Rudyard Kipling & Charles Allen
Kipling's The Eyes of Asia takes the reader on a remarkable journey of discovery into the heart and soul of four soldiers of the Indian Army who fought for King and the British Empire in the First World War.Their touching stories are narrated through a series of imagined letters written in the blood-drenched battlefields of war-torn France and makeshift hospitals on England's coastline to their loved ones back home in the relative peace of their villages in India and the North-West Frontier. Kipling brings the experiences of these uneducated Sikh, Hindu and Muslim military men to life, weaving the horrors of a foreign war like no other with acts of kindness arising from cultural encounters with French farmers and British military personnel.Through unofficial access to translations of scores of intercepted Indian Army letters, Kipling gained an intimate understanding of the plight and humanity of men neglected in Western literature after the War. To Kipling, they were unsung heroes whose sacrifices had made a decisive impact on the British war effort.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay in December 1865. He returned to India from England shortly before his seventeenth birthday, to work as a journalist first on the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore, then on the Pioneer at Allahabad. The poems and stories he wrote over the next seven years laid the foundation of his literary reputation, and soon after his return to London in 1889 he found himself world-famous. Throughout his life his works enjoyed great acclaim and popularity, but he came to seem increasingly controversial because of his political opinions, and it has been difficult to reach literary judgements unclouded by partisan feeling. Charles Allen is a historian, broadcaster and author of 23 books on the Indian subcontinent. He has a recorded family association with India that goes back to 1857 and has written bestsellers including his first work, Plain Tales from the Raj (1975), and Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling (2007). He recently featured in the BBC documentary film 'Kipling's Indian Adventure', which reassessed Kipling's life and adventures in Lahore and their impact on his literature.