Across the Border, or Pathan and Biloch


Across the Border, or Pathan and Biloch is a work of ethnographic description by little-known English writer Edward Emmerson Oliver. It deals with the Afghan and Baluch tribes of the northwest frontier of British India bordering Afghanistan (in what is today Pakistan) and of Afghanistan itself. The book is in a long line of British writing about these territories going back to the foundational study of Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779−1859‏), An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul and its Dependencies in Persia, Tartary, and India, published in 1815. Like Elphinstone, Oliver never actually entered Afghanistan. He seems to have relied primarily on library research. He combed the files of the East India Company and used unclassified official reports, newspapers, and other documents and publications, including Ephinstone’s researches of 1808−9. To the information gleaned from these sources, he added his own views of the virtues and vices of the native peoples. He also called for the maintenance of a formidable defense of India against Russian expansionism and stressed the need for up-to-date intelligence from tribal lands. The book includes many illustrations by John Lockwood Kipling, a teacher, journalist, illustrator, and conservationist, who spent much of his working life in India and was the father of the British writer Rudyard Kipling.

Last updated: September 30, 2016