Book review: The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner, by John Keay
The sub-title is important. John Keay, doyen of British Indian studies, has written a thoroughly-researched biography, but one which depends much on speculation and the weighing of often contradictory and dubious evidence. He has been interested, even fascinated, by Alexander Gardner for a very long time, first writing about him briefly some 40 years ago. Gardner was a traveller-explorer, soldier and mystery man. Even his date of birth and family background are not known for sure; he may have been in his late seventies when he died; he may have been over 90. He said he was American, and probably was, Scots on his father’s side, Spanish-Mexican on his mother’s.