Empire's Son, Empire's Orphan
The Fantastical Lives of Ikbal and Idries Shah
A rollicking story of two literary fabulists who revealed the West’s obsession with a fabricated, exotic East
Claiming to come from Afghanistan, Ikbal and Idries Shah convinced spies, poets, orientalists, diplomats, occultists, hippies and even a prime minister that they held the keys to understanding the Muslim world. Gambling with the currency of cultural authenticity, father and son became master players of the great game of empire and its aftermath as their careers extended from colonial India and wartime Oxford to swinging London and literary New York. Empire’s Son, Empire’s Orphan unravels a quagmire of aliases and pseudonyms, fantastical pasts and self-aggrandising anecdotes, high stakes and bold schemes that painted the defining portrait of Afghanistan for almost a century. From George Orwell directing Muslim propaganda to Robert Graves translating a fake manuscript of Omar Khayyam and Doris Lessing supporting jihad, Nile Green tells the fascinating tale of how the world was beguiled by the dream of an Afghan Shangri-La that never existed.