the British annexed the Punjab (including the Northern Areas)
in 1848, they began the great task of documenting it. They
wrote gazetteers, describing every detail of the people, vegetation
and geography of the area. When photography arrived, they
took photographs. I first saw Omar Khan’s “From
Kashmir to Kabul” two years ago, while researching my
new novel, “Companions of Paradise.” The book
was just what I needed to see—a catalogue of black and
white images taken only a few years after ‘Companions’
ends. They perfectly capture a place and time, making it easy
for me to picture the British army on the move in 1842, and
the people of Kabul who fought them.
Photographers John Burke and William Baker lead us from
the Punjab to Kabul, showing us people and cities and scenery
as they were nearly 150 years ago.
Thalassa Ali is the author
of “A Singular Hostage,” “A Beggar at
the Gate,” and the forthcoming “Companions of
Paradise.” These books are set in 19th
Century Lahore and Kabul.