Monday, February 15, 2016

recent read; The Gurkhas

It's been a really long time since I sat down and read some history for fun. Most of my history reading has been fiction research these past many years.

The Gurkhas by Byron Farwell was one of my father's books. I might have even given it to him. I don't remember.

They are one of those fighting elite groups you hear about, and I knew next to nothing about them.

Farwell's book in an excellent learning tool. He provides enough stories, facts, anecdotes and history to provide a solid foundation. The chapters were easily digestible; just the right length with enough action and stories to keep the academic drudgery at bay. These hardy soldiers from Nepal are a wonder to read about.

I learned a lot. In this post 20th century, post Cold War, where mercenaries are scorned, it is interesting to note that technically that's exactly what the Gurkhas are. But they've been so ingrained with British service, (and later India, too,) the general public doesn't think of them that way. I knew nothing about the chaos and horrible slaughter that followed India's independence and the partition of Pakistan and India. It was a blood bath the Gurkhas policed and much of the world never heard about.

This book was written in 1984, and runs right up through the Falkland Islands War. It is interesting that it ends discussing the future of the Gurkhas - stationed and operating then out of Hong Kong. Of course, all of that probably changed in 1997. I'll need to followup sometime.


  1. Interesting. I know nothing about the Gurkhas. Looks like I need to do some research.

  2. I know the name but nothing else. I should look into this.

  3. Sounds good. I've got a bunch of books by Farwell and they're good reading. I remember in the late 70s/early 80s, Guatemala was threatening Belize (ex-British Honduras) and the Gurkhas were one of a couple of elite units sent into to scare them off. They did.