Rudyard Kipling is, without a doubt, one of the most famous English writers in history. As for Kim, his epic novel, it first saw the light of day as a serial in 1900 (in December, to be exact). The readers got to enjoy it as a full-length book a month later. This is a political thriller, if you will, a spy novel that centers around the mighty conflict between the UK and Russia all the way over in Central Asia.
The "skirmish" is known as The Great Game in history and it was Kipling who popularized that term. Kim was one of the first books to talk about intrigue, conspiracy theories and a great rivalry between two major superpowers. The story unfolds right after the end of the 2nd Afghan War and before the official start of the 3rd. The critics are giving Kipling the highest praise because of the meticulous, detailed depiction of the simple folks, culture, traditions and way of living in India and the neighboring countries.
It's safe to say that if you want to learn about the country's "ins and out" in the beginning of the 20th century, this novel will give you all the knowledge you'll ever need. This is a bright, vivid, overwhelming picture of India - various religions, myths, superstitions, the relationship between the various ethnic groups, the "smell" of the bazaars - all of that.
Kim is constantly ending up in all kinds of "Top-100" lists all over the globe and holds great historical value. Kimball, the main character of the story, is an orphan: his dad, a soldier, and his mom, a housewife, passed away in poverty. So, the bloke is living the life of a vagabond in India, a country that's fully controlled by the Brits. He's making a living on completing simple tasks and begging. Soon, he meets a Lama, and the two embark on a riveting journey that changes his life.