This is the first full biography of Alexander Burnes (1805-1841), from his humble origins in Montrose (the great nephew of Robert Burns), to his entry to the East India Company and his work as a political agent in India and Afghanistan.This is an astonishing true tale of espionage, journeys in disguise, secret messages, double agents, assassinations and sexual intrigue. as Britain strove with Russia for control of Central Asia and the routes to the Raj. There are many lessons for the present day in this tale of the folly of invading Afghanistan and Anglo-Russian tensions in the Caucasus. Murray's meticulous study has unearthed original manuscripts from Montrose to Mumbai to put together a detailed study of how British secret agents operated in India, revealing Burnes as a figure of broad intellectual range, with a respect for local culture and a lack of racism out of tune with the mood of the day.
Craig Murray is an author (Murder in Samarkand), broadcaster and human rights activist. He was a member of the British Diplomatic Service for 20 years, British Ambassador to Uzbekistan 2002-2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee 2007- 2010.