John Masters writes of his early life and the beginning of his career in the Indian Army, particularly a Gurkha regiment.
In this fast-moving book, he manages to explain the viewpoint of the families whose lives for generations were involved in service in India (by extension in less well-known outposts of empire, as well), explain the British regimental system, the institution of Sandhurst, a good view of pre-war India, a fabulously affectionate description of the Gurkha soldiers, and fighting on the Northwest Frontier. Those familiar with Kipling, or current events, will recognize some of the locations.
None of this strikes the reader as a lecture. If nothing else, this book will inform the reader about several subjects which will make understanding certain aspects of history and military affairs much easier.
Masters was clearly an interesting young man; observant and energetic, self-aware, and clearly competent.
The story ends with a large manuver involving several other units. After a night march over nearly impossible terrain, the battalion is in place, supple, tuned, ready. The year is 1939.
Masters' next book, "Road Past Mandalay" about his experiences fighting in Burma, follows naturally and seamlessly.