"Ameri-Khan" lays out in vivid fashion US diplomat David Booth’s assignment during the Eisenhower Presidency to open an American Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, pioneering an American diplomatic presence in the wild lawless area between the great Indus River and the border with Afghanistan. It included the fabled Khyber Pass, Baluchistan Province in the far south, and the majestic Himalayas in the far north, an area which for centuries had known only the law of the rifle and the rigors of tribal ways.
The Grand Trunk Road, alive with legions of walkers and caravans, ended in Booth’s district, thousands of miles from its origin in Calcutta. He made a home for his wife and children in Peshawar, opened an official American office, and hired a staff including an advisor who happened to be a member of the ruling family of a northern principality.
The new office dealt with a myriad of cultural, bureaucratic and practical crises in the process of getting established. For example, an elderly American woman died in a local hotel and her corpse was accidentally switched with that of a tribal Khan, creating a sensation among the Pushtun tribes. In another example, an American military officer, in charge of a training detachment assigned to the Pakistan Army, turned pacifist with decidedly unexpected and messy results.
Added to his many other challenges, Booth also spent five nightmarish days in a hospital afflicted with bulbar malaria—with a 5% recovery rate—before convalescing at his prince advisor’s mountain home.
After two years of further adventures and crises for David and his family and as Booth's tour of duty in Peshawar was winding down, he was confronted by one final challenge. Two young Americans from Missouri arrived on foot after endless months of trekking, determined to walk around the world. Despite David’s help and advice, the World Walkers managed to insult a local tribal Khan with the result that they were forced to make a quick guarded trek through tribal territory toward the Afghan border—a detour that provoked its own tragedy. David Booth's saga of trials and tribulations finds its end when at last his transfer orders from Washington arrive.