The general public's knowledge of Kipling can probably be reduced to the Disney version of "The Jungle Book" and his unfortunate "White Man's Burden" poem, which has marred his reputation. He was, perhaps, the poet of British Empire, but it's not as if his views were at all abnormal at the time. That's not to justify his attitude towards imperialism and other races, but simply to put it in context. And he was the first English writer to win the Nobel, so he can't be totally written off. Anyway, this collection of short stories, all set in India, where he was born and raised, is a good introduction to Kipling. I saw the film version of the title story, with Michael Caine and Sean Connery, years ago and it's one of his best adventure stories. Other stories touch on his unhappy childhood, the common British soldier, and the lives of ordinary Indians. Even if he can be a little patronizing towards the natives, he at least made an effort to understand them and portray them sympathetically. So, yeah, Kipling comes with a lot of baggage, but he's still an important writer and is certainly valuable as an insight into the zeitgeist. Also see "Kim."
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