I'm currently reading this on my Kindle:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1284552.Rudyard_Kipling_s_Tales_of_Horror_and_FantasyRudyard Kipling's Tales of Horror and Fantasy.
I have also read "The White Man's Burden."
He is an extremely good writer, "elite" one could say, and great skill like his is Satanic.
What he writes is very enjoyable to read.
He makes great characters, and captures places in India very well.
He has a bold and daring style.
He was a supporter of 19th/early 20th century Western European imperialism in Africa and India; evaluate that how you like, but give him the chance to express himself on the topic in his own words. Do your own reading on imperialism too.
I am still relatively new to Kipling, but, for what you are looking for, in sum:
-Bold artist and thinker
I don't know enough about his life to comment on that.