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Kim [Unabridged] [Mass Market Paperback]

Rudyard Kipling
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 15 1999 0812565754 978-0812565751 Unabridged
When his father, a soldier stationed in India, dies suddenly, young Kimball O'Hara is left to fend for himself on the streets of Lahore. A proper English lad, Kim is plunged into an exotic and unfamiliar world of crowded bazaars and noisy markets, gilded temples, sahibs and fakirs, beggars, whirling dervishes, soldiers, and spies. Forced to live hand-to-mouth, Kim must rely on his cunning and wit to survive.

But his life takes a curious twist when he meets a holy man, a lama, who is about to embark on a very mysterious quest: a pilgrimage that will take him across the vast continent, across mighty rivers and up the majestic Himalayas. He wants Kim to accompany him.

But where will the journey lead? For Kim, all roads lead to adventure!

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One of the particular pleasures of reading Kim is the full range of emotion, knowledge, and experience that Rudyard Kipling gives his complex hero. Kim O'Hara, the orphaned son of an Irish soldier stationed in India, is neither innocent nor victimized. Raised by an opium-addicted half-caste woman since his equally dissolute father's death, the boy has grown up in the streets of Lahore:
Though he was burned black as any native; though he spoke the vernacular by preference, and his mother-tongue in a clipped uncertain sing-song; though he consorted on terms of perfect equality with the small boys of the bazar; Kim was white--a poor white of the very poorest.
From his father and the woman who raised him, Kim has come to believe that a great destiny awaits him. The details, however, are a bit fuzzy, consisting as they do of the woman's addled prophecies of "'a great Red Bull on a green field, and the Colonel riding on his tall horse, yes, and'--dropping into English--'nine hundred devils.'"

In the meantime, Kim amuses himself with intrigues, executing "commissions by night on the crowded housetops for sleek and shiny young men of fashion." His peculiar heritage as a white child gone native, combined with his "love of the game for its own sake," makes him uniquely suited for a bigger game. And when, at last, the long-awaited colonel comes along, Kim is recruited as a spy in Britain's struggle to maintain its colonial grip on India. Kipling was, first and foremost, a man of his time; born and raised in India in the 19th century, he was a fervid supporter of the Raj. Nevertheless, his portrait of India and its people is remarkably sympathetic. Yes, there is the stereotypical Westernized Indian Babu Huree Chander with his atrocious English, but there is also Kim's friend and mentor, the Afghani horse trader Mahub Ali, and the gentle Tibetan lama with whom Kim travels along the Grand Trunk Road. The humanity of his characters consistently belies Kipling's private prejudices, and raises Kim above the mere ripping good yarn to the level of a timeless classic. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.


"Máire ní Fhlathúin's new edition of Kim is a welcome event. The substantial and scholarly, yet accessible, introduction contextualises the novel in important new ways. This is complemented by a diverse range of supplementary material, which allows the reader to appreciate more clearly some of the debates, texts, and contexts by which Kipling was influenced as he wrote his masterpiece. This is an edition that will appeal alike to the student, scholar, and general reader." (Bart Moore-Gilbert) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam-Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher-the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ignore agendas, resist the New System Jan. 10 2003
I wonder if Kipling's most vitriolic critics have read anything about him (or by him) besides caustic post-colonial dissertations. Surely they can't pretend that they've read KIM with silly labels such as "imperialistic," "ignorant," "globalizing," and "racist." I advise these misguided flowers to read without agendas.
But of course reading without agendas nowadays would so offend our academies that it's absolutely impossible. KIM *is* a simple story, as one reviewer already mentioned, that does not really deal with colonial "assumptions" whatsoever. In fact, I marvel at how people ignore the basic fact that Kim resisted his Sahib identity when we could only sympathize with him. Kim contrasts well with THE JUNGLE BOOK'S Mowgli because he disdains most social groups, preferring above all his lama and "the road." If anything, his "yearning" toward colonization near the book's end (itself dubiously proven) probably reflects his educational indoctrination, if anything else. Kipling surely wasn't a stupid writer, and it's probably no coincidence that Kim turns to colonialism only after the Sahibs educate and recruit him in "the Great Game." Whether that's good or bad is irrelevant; Kipling does not justify, advocate or endorse colonialism in KIM. Nor does he waste space needlessly attacking it. Why do people need fiction to contain ideology? Why can't people understand that some stories are about characters and that authors imposing their voices is sometimes unnecessary? "Adult" perspectives in the novel, which critics charge could never come from Kim, come from adult characters. Duh. Kipling, unlike his postmodern butchers, did not write with an agenda.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Classic June 25 2004
So why am I writing a review of a book published in the early 1900s?
I hope some young people will read all the positive reviews and pick up the book and have a great time. No Stephen King or Dean Koontz wrote this. A wonderfully narrated book of a time that is not coming back. The language is smooth as flowing honey and the Indian words are used with the skill of one born and brought up there (Kipling was later sent to England to complete his schooling).
Enjoyable even after years and years.
I would recommend to buy the hardcover (Everyman Library) edition. A bargain at Amazon's prices
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a mild but quite thorough story of initiation: Dec 20 2003
By asphlex
Kim is honestly a fun book. This is not to say that there aren't lapses, tedious mirings that swirl around the overall ebullient excitment, but these stem more from an excess of the author's wordplay than from anything else. The story is on the surface rather quaint: Orphaned British tyke grows up alone in India, has the internal wits and capacity to learn basic survival skills and has the ambition and sense of humor to make something of a name for himself. From there he meets a 'holy man'--not one in the traditional sense of Western (or even Eastern) literature, but here is more of a true seeker, someone not pulled down by the conventions of organized religiousosity, but one moreso looking for a one-on-one understanding of God. There is a great deal of subtle and transmogrified mythologizing--the traditional fables bowled over by reality, the high, idealistic hopes often stunted in birth by more rational and everyday life concerns. Kim, street-smart and wise before his time, is fascinated by the holy man's honesty and feels some compelling need to accompany the man on his random journies.
Kim is the story of two journies, certainly the holy man's as well as Kim's own, the reckoning with cultural identity and the east/west clash in a time of subterfuge and war. It is really a quite powerful story, dulled down at times by the author's seemingly ceaseless wonder, but for a tale marketed as being about a white European lost in the maze of turn-of-the-century India, there is a great deal that is very contemporary and an enormous amount of action and even betrayal.
Give it a go and read it to your kids. There are many valuable life lessons Kipling makes an attempt to teach and many wrong paths he explains to us all about taking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still worth reading Jan. 12 2003
This is a very entertaining novel, though not as good as the best of Kipling's short stories. As an adventure-oriented bildungsroman, Kim is well constructed with its gradual exposure of the ethnic and religous diversity of India, its engaging characters, and good quality of writing. While written as an adventure novel, Kim is also Kipling's prediction of the British Raj would become. The hero, Kim O'Hara, is in many ways an idealization of what saw as the logical conclusion of British India; a hybrid composed of both Indian and British elements. In an ironic way, this is how things turned out in British India. But where Kim is ethnically British with a largely Indian cultural background, the real inheritors of the British Raj were ethnic Indians (of a variety of ethnicities, castes, and faiths) whose outlook is colored strongly by Western influences.
How this book is read in a 'post-colonial' era is an interesting question. It would be easy, and wrong, to dismiss this book merely as an Imperialist tract, though Kipling clearly supported British Imperial control. It is even wronger to attack Kipling's racism, though there are unquestionably stereotyped elements present. In many ways, Kim is a celebration of India's ethnic and religous diversity. Probably the most unsympathetic characters in the book are not Indian, but Britishers with provincial outlooks. Kipling's support of the Empire is rather more subtle. It is clear that he viewed the existence of the huge and relatively tolerant polyglot society that was the Raj as the result of relatively benign British rule and protection. This is probably true. Without British overlordship, India is likely to have been a congeries of competing states riven by ethnic and religous divisions. Where Kipling is profoundly misleading is what he leaves out, particularly the economic exploitation India and crucial role India played in the Imperial economy.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Formatting of the text was problematic
There were quite a few errors in formatting the text, which is why I gave it 3 stars rather than higher. Read more
Published 3 months ago by aquinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Scouting Rocks
Good quality. Great to use in scouting programs. Prompt delivery. An excellent read for bed time at any TimberWolf Scout or Cub Scout camp.
Published 9 months ago by Mary R. Fisher
4.0 out of 5 stars Third reading.
This is the third time I've read this in my 60 plus years. I enjoy it and get a little more out of it every time. Read more
Published 11 months ago by F. Gorosh
2.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly Overrated
Am I missing something here? Apparently. I found Kipling's writing extremely stilted and archaic, in a bad way (not in a say, Shakespeare way). Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2003 by P. Costello
5.0 out of 5 stars A tug of war between Kipling's two minds
Some say Kipling was an imperialist. Some say he was an Indophile. I think he was both at the same time. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2003 by Tana Shah
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic Raj era tale
A classic Raj era tale
Published on Oct. 11 2003 by S. Dole
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic boy's adventure
The tale is a classic adventure story, of Kim, Irish orphan growing up as a street urchin in northern India. Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2003 by A Yong
4.0 out of 5 stars The original spy-kid.
The orphaned son of a British Army officer learns the way of the streets of India, where he acts as a courier, and sometimes a spy, for locals who are in the pay of the British as... Read more
Published on July 25 2003 by S Smyth
5.0 out of 5 stars Kipling's Kim and Komments on Kim
Kim is a book that I had meant to read for nearly 20 years. When I finally got around to it, I first read the reviews and noted they seemed to divide into two camps. Read more
Published on June 26 2003 by Highlander
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