British historian William Dalrymple, who specialises in writing about the Indo-Pakistan-Afghan region, is returning to New Zealand in May for the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.

Delhi-based Dalrymple, a charismatic speaker in sold-out sessions at the 2010 festival, will discuss his latest book, Return of a King, about the first disastrous British invasion of Afghanistan in the early 19th century.

He will also take part in a debate called The Rule of the West is Over with former Daily Telegraph editor and military historian Sir Max Hastings, Indian essayist Pankaj Mishra and German-American economist Sylvia Nasar.

More than 150 international and New Zealand writers join this year's line-up.


British journalist Ben Goldacre, who wrote the book Bad Pharma, an expose of the global pharmaceutical industry, is also on the way, along with Russian writer Masha Gessen, biographer of Vladimir Putin.

New Zealand speakers include former Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Don McKinnon and 95-year-old theologian Sir Lloyd Geering, who will deliver the Michael King Lecture on How Humans Made God.

The festival

The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival will take place at the Aotea Centre and other venues from May 15-19.