CuChullaine O'Reilly
2001 |

Few places on Earth were more dangerous in 1983 than Peshawar, Pakistan. With a savage war being waged a few miles away between the Soviet Union and the Afghan mujahideen, Peshawar had become the new Casablanca. When she wasn't being bombed, her narrow streets hosted a swirling human cocktail of turbaned freedom fighters, tight-lipped foreign mercenaries, naïve foreign aid workers, cruel Pathan warlords, and more spies than ever lurked in Berlin. Riding through this fiery forge was CuChullaine O'Reilly. The journalist who turned equestrian explorer was already familiar with Peshawar and the surrounding lawless portions of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. A convert to Islam, the wandering horseman was unfazed by religious obstacles, fluent in the patois of the tribesmen, and able to partake of any local offering from luke warm goat fat to sullied ditch water. Setting off from Peshawar, O'Reilly began an equestrian odyssey into a mediaeval portion of the world devoid of mercy and machinery. His mission was to ride over some of the world's highest mountain ranges, thread his way through untamed tribes, and miraculously get back to war-torn Peshawar. Yet the adventure he sought demanded a high price. His horse died and was eaten by eager natives. He was kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned in Pakistan's most infamous prison, and met murderers, bandits, whores, and princes. Yet despite these setbacks, O'Reilly never lost hope that he would complete his mounted exploration of the remote and dangerous heart of Asia. Lavishly illustrated with dozens of drawings and maps, the resulting book was compiled from the field notes, maps and diaries the author brought back from his travels. It includes an in-depth glossary of native words, and the largest collection of ethnological, historical, political, sexual, and religious information ever gathered about life in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. "Khyber Knights" is thus a rare talisman against a world grown soft and predictable. Its pages burn with a bawdy portrayal of the darkest secrets of this cruel and beautiful region. It is a tissue of mishaps and romantic adventures, poetic passages and natural beauties, set to the echoing of horses' hooves. Told with grit and realism by one of the world's foremost equestrian explorers, "Khyber Knights" has been penned the way lives are lived, not how books are written. It makes every effort to rip the reader's nerves to rags with its ruthless devotion to the unvarnished truth about life in the North West Frontier. You do not read "Khyber Knights". You survive it!

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Khyber Knights

An Account of Perilous Adventure and Forbidden Romance in the Depths of Mystic Asia