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Description - Raj by Lawrence James

This is the brilliantly told story of one of the wonders of the modern world - how in less than a hundred years the British made themselves masters of India. They ruled it for another hundred, departing in 1947, leaving behind the independent states of India and Pakistan. British rule taught Indians to see themselves as Indians and its benefits included railways, hospitals, law and a universal language. But the Raj, outwardly so monolithic and magnificent, was always precarious. Its masters knew that it rested ultimately on the goodwill of Indians. This is a new look at a subject rich in incident and character; the India of the Raj was that of Clive, Kipling, Curzon and Gandhi and a host of lesser known others. RAJ will provoke debate, for it sheds new light on Mountbatten and the events of 1946-47 which ended an exercise in benign autocracy and an experiment in altruism.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349110127
ISBN-10: 0349110123
Format: Paperback
(158mm x 199mm x 37mm)
Pages: 736
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 5-Nov-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Raj by Lawrence James

Book Reviews - Raj by Lawrence James

UK Kirkus Review » British rule in India was essentially unplanned and unintended, yet its consequences were enormous. Without it, Britain would never have become a great power and India would never have developed a national identity. As a result of it, India acquired railways, roads, schools and hospitals 100 years ahead of anywhere else in Asia. However, the Raj rested on deeply precarious foundations and depended ultimately on the goodwill and active collaboration of millions of Indians for its survival. The withdrawal of that goodwill, which gathered momentum after World War I, made the collapse of British power inevitable - though few would have predicted the tragic and chaotic nature of its end in 1946/47. The epic scale and impact of the Raj are brilliantly caught by James in a book of enormous range, sweep and compelling narrative power. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A pungent epic history of two lands locked in imperial embrace and disdain for two centuries, from British historian and biographer James (The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, 1996; The Golden Warrior, 1993, etc.). From the victory of East India Company representative Robert Clive at Plassey in 1757 to the bloody partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Britain struggled with contradictory emotions aroused by her entry into and withdrawal from the subcontinent. Winston Churchill's opinion that the Raj was the "finest achievement" of his countrymen was not universally held even in Britain, as evidenced by periodic rancorous parliamentary debates over the corruption and abuse of force sometimes employed in India by the East India Company and, later, the Crown's viceroys and generals. Indisputably, however, India "underpinned Britain's status as a global power and provided it with markets, prestige and muscle," according to James. Neither arch-imperialist nor postcolonial critic, the author sees the Raj as a period governed by essentially idealistic if paternalistic rulers who left an indelible imprint on India and Pakistan. James has mastered an astonishingly large body of material, encompassing subjects as various as the social life of sahibs and memsahibs; the impact of India's newspapers on local opinion; and the non-battlefield dangers faced by British soldiers (e.g., venereal disease). He can be enjoyable to read even when not entirely fair, as when he lashes out at Lady Mountbatten as a "jejune socialite." James numbers India's infrastructure, Western style of education, and enduring commitment to democracy among the positive legacies of British rule. Nevertheless, many readers, noting James's admission that Britain sometimes treated its subjects in a racist, brutal manner, will conclude that any rule maintained by force has its limits as a benign influence. An intelligent general history of the former jewel in Britain's crown, with assiduous attention to the complications it created for ruler and ruled alike. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Lawrence James

Lawrence James was born in Bath and was educated at the University of York and Merton College, Oxford. After a distinguished teaching career he has emerged as one of the outstanding narrative historians of his generation.

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