UK hardback edition of  The Khyber Pass , 2007

UK hardback edition of The Khyber Pass, 2007

The Khyber Pass: a History of Empire and Invasion

Paddy Docherty (Faber & Faber, 2007)

A Financial Times Book of the Year 2007 and shortlisted for the Longman/History Today Book of the Year Award 2008.

The Khyber Pass, more than any other place on earth, has shaped the fate of civilisations. Thirty miles long, and in places no more than sixteen metres wide, the Pass is the main route between India and Central Asia – and the path for generations of conquerors, missionaries, refugees, travellers and spies. In this stimulating history, Paddy Docherty, who has studied and travelled extensively in the region, takes the reader from Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan right into the modern day, exploring the wealth of history and culture that has formed in the great border region over the millennia.

Published by Faber & Faber in the United Kingdom (2007), and by Union Square Press in the United States (2008). The Italian edition is published by Il Saggiatore (2010).


Excellent… tells his story with imagination and enthusiasm.  His masterful grasp of events is embellished with vivid reconstructions of ancient warriors tramping through the Pass. – The Spectator 

An energetic and readable introduction to the succession of armies and warlords, emperors and dynasties who passed through the Khyber from Darius to Osama bin Laden ... what Docherty does do very well is remind us that globalisation is not a recent phenomenon. – William Dalrymple, Financial Times

Whatever you do, read this book… Docherty has written a fascinating and extremely ambitious study of the Khyber Pass. The scope of his researches is as challenging as the physical terrain at the heart of this book … The value of Paddy Docherty’s book lies in its encapsulating in one volume the blood-soaked, spiritually charged history of one of the world’s most interesting and savagely beautiful little corners. – Literary Review

Docherty has made a decent fist of a very tricky project and his command of a diverse selection of sources is impressive ... his enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. The Taliban may no longer rule in Kabul, but the centuries old ‘tense Khyber atmosphere’ is clearly still in evidence. – Sunday Telegraph

The long, turbulent and complex history of the Khyber Pass and the surrounding Hindu Kush makes for fascinating reading, and Docherty’s excellent book is recommended… – Sunday Herald

The main achievement of Paddy Docherty’s book is to convey the importance of this “strategic possession without equal”… There are plenty of fascinating tales along the way. – New Statesman

…highly readable and informative… related with verve and considerable understanding… He not only senses the time-old frissons of daring and danger that the Pass inspires, he also relays them to his readers in a manner of which John Buchan would have approved. – Times Literary Supplement