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Description - Plain Tales from the Raj by Charles Allen

The Raj was, for two hundred years, the jewel in the British imperial crown. Although founded on military expansionism and undoubted exploitation, it developed over the centuries into what has been called 'benign autocracy' - the government of many by few, with the active collaboration of most Indians in recognition of a desire for the advancement of their country. Charles Allen's classic oral history of the period that marked the end of British rule was first published a generation ago. Now reissued as the imperial century closes, this brilliantly insightful and bestselling collection of reminiscences illustrates the unique experience of British India: the sadness and luxury for some; the joy and deprivation for others.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349104973
ISBN-10: 0349104972
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 127mm x 18mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1988
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Plain Tales from the Raj by Charles Allen

UK Kirkus Review » This is an insider's book. It is an enthralling collection of memoirs, first recorded as a BBC radio series, in which survivors of the Raj look back upon their lives and times in India. They range from Field-Marshal Auchinleck to Spike Milligan. Seldom sentimental, often surprisingly salty, their recollections throw a healthy light upon the mingled delights and miseries of the imperial experience not only in their own times, but throughout the three centuries of the British presence in the sub-continent. Review by Jan Morris, whose books include 'Lincoln: A Foreigner's View' (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » The British in India filled the vacancy left by the preceding set of interlopers, the Mughals. While they had their own interests and convictions, they were as much made by the country as its shapers. They found this process - renewed in every generation - an enthralling one, as this pastiche of verbal history shows. In 1974 some fifty in-depth interviews were conducted with survivors of the British raj for a BBC program. Arranged topically (children, household, the Frontier, the day's work, the order of precedence), the book is the easiest possible reading - the uninhibited, unapologetic recollections of a time when everything had a heightened interest and importance. Editor Allen does not attempt to discriminate; the police officer who gave anyone shouting "Mahatma Gandhi" six of the best (he left India in '27) stands alongside the man who joined the Indian Civil Service in 1928 because he found the prospect of a transfer of power exciting. A nostalgic book about a group who, from the despised British soldier to the viceroy's court, felt themselves neglected by England and on guard in India. Offsetting much that is tawdry (and not always recognized here as such), are those perilous, golden childhoods or the touring district officer required by longstanding convention to talk at leisure with any of the thousands who might wish it. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Charles Allen

Charles Allen is an oral and military historian specialising in colonial matters. He is the author of several previous books and lives in north London.

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