The Ameer Abdur Rahman


This book is a biography, published in London in 1895, of ʿAbd al-Rahman Khan (circa 1844‒1901), amir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. ʿAbd al-Rahman Khan was a grandson of Dost Mohammad Khan, the founder the Barakzai dynasty of Afghanistan after the fall of the Durranis in 1842. ʿAbd al-Rahman was driven into exile in 1869, when his father and uncle lost a long struggle with Sher ʿAli to succeed Dost Mohammad. ʿAbd al-Rahman lived in Samarkand (in present-day Uzbekistan) in what was then Russian Turkestan until 1880, when, amid the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878–80, he returned to Kabul, where he was installed as amir. He negotiated a settlement with the British, whereby the British recognized him as amir while he acknowledged the British right to control the foreign relations of Afghanistan. The book recounts these events, as well as ʿAbd al-Rahman’s subsequent rule and his consolidation and partial modernization of the country up to 1895. The concluding chapter, entitled “A Ruler in Islam,” describes the amir’s accomplishments as an administrator in reforming and strengthening the Afghan state and its institutions, including the army. An appendix contains excerpts from the amir’s autobiography, translated from a Russian text produced during his exile in Russian Turkestan. The book includes a genealogical table of the Barakzais, a chronology, illustrations, and two maps. The author, Stephen Wheeler, was the editor of Civil and Military Gazette (CMG), a daily newspaper that was published in Lahore (in present-day Pakistan), which circulated in the Punjab, at that time part of British India. Wheeler wrote or edited several other books, but he is best known as the editor who employed the young Rudyard Kipling in his first job in journalism.

Last updated: September 30, 2016