Keay's narrative histories of India, China and the East India Company are widely regarded as standard works. His India: A History has sold over 200,000 copies and the 'EIC' book has been in print for over 25 years. He is also the author of the Royal Geographical Society's History of World Exploration. As a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, his prose is rated 'exquisite' (Observer). For his literary contribution to Asian studies he was awarded the Royal Asiatic Society's Sykes Medal in 2009. Gardner first featured in Keay's The Explorers of the Western Himalaya, which the Irish Times described as 'a book to be bought, treasured and never ever lent'.
'Minutely researched, wittily written and beautifully produced, it is one of John Keay's most memorable achievements' The Spectator'Enthralling... The Tartan Turban is as illuminating as it is irresistible' TLS'Elegant... brilliantly lucid... gripping... John Keay's biography restores him to the place in history that he should justly hold' The Literary Review