Picking one’s way through the jagged rocks and tribal incursions of the north-west frontier of British Indian history, one might well have encountered occasional British officers who seemed at home among the anomalies of their ambiguous position. These tanned and steely-eyed political officers of the Raj might often have been found exchanging ribald verses in local dialects with tall and bearded tribesmen whose hands roved ceaselessly between knifehilt to triggerguard. This everyday scene of imperial life was sometimes ended by the murder of a less-experienced political, or by a really unforgivable outbreak of tribal ooting and killing in the sunlit valleys below the hills. Then, the surviving politicals would be linked in a temporary marriage of convenience with the military sent to punish the tribal offenders. And while it is a commonplace to say that civil-military relations have usually been troubled, it was especially true in the Indian case. There, the ‘civilians’ were mostly soldiers, and they had direct contact with the Viceroy over the heads of the commanders.