The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria

St. Martin’s. Apr. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781250278593. $29.99. HIST
The life of scholar, adventurer, explorer, and spy Charles Masson is so outlandish that it’s hard to believe it isn’t fiction. Richardson’s (classics and ancient history, Univ. of Durham; Classical Victorians: Scholars, Scoundrels and Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity) wild history of Masson’s travels in Afghanistan may read like a thriller, but it is based on meticulous research and new sources. It’s a fascinating account of Masson’s all-consuming search for the legendary lost city of Alexandria Beneath the Mountain, which symbolized the point where East met West. Richardson goes beyond Masson’s account of navigating Afghanistan and, in 1833, finding the lost Alexandria; the book also considers Afghanistan’s political situation in the 1820s and 1830s, the truth of Masson’s accounts, and the country’s challenging terrain. For Richardson, the clash between cultures and values in Afghanistan is illustrated by Masson’s account as well by the stories of Alexander the Great as they were told on the eastern edge of his conquest.
VERDICT A romp through a dramatic landscape and events that will be exciting for anyone interested in history and, in particular, classical archaeology.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing