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Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India
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Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  325 ratings  ·  30 reviews
This is an account of British rule in India. It is the remarkable story of how the British made themselves masters of the subcontinent in less than a century, and then ruled it for a further century before departing in 1947, leaving behind the independent states of India and Pakistan.
Published November 5th 1998 by Abacus (UK) (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,101)
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I don't always decide to read 700-page books on a whim, but when I do, they're about subjects I know almost nothing about.

When I was in high school I discovered Bollywood movies, thanks to a relative giving me a VHS copy of Lagaan. It was about an Indian village in the 1800's challenging the local British army cantonment to a cricket match, with the wager being that if the villagers won they wouldn't have to pay taxes for three years, and it represents everything I know about the British occupat...more
I have to say I am very disappointed in this book. It is far too biased. The author, while he shows great knowledge of the British regime, paints a skewed picture of Indians in a way that I found both tedious and scholastically irresponsible. The Indian side of things is over simplified and at many points poorly constructed. I even found James to be, dare I say it, rather racist at times. Read at your own risk, and keep a few barrels of salt handy.
Guy doesnt know that it was Shahjahan and NOT Jahangir who built Taj mahal. You need to read first few pages to realize that the guy is just making it up! But then, not doing that would be against the true colonial spirit.

This is a detailed account of the transition from (with) the rule of the East India Company governance of India, to English government possession (it was mixed up together throughout this time). My, but there were many excuses to interfere in the business of Indians - religious, economic (lots of these reasons), cultural elitism, competition between European nations (God forbid the French should establish themselves)... Indians were however, looked at differently than people in Africa or Island...more

The book was pretty one sided but I expected that. That was the whole reason I picked it up, I wanted to see how the British saw the 200 year occupation and exploitation of India. The author points to this in the Epilogue of the book that currently people look at Imperialism as bad but that was not the prevalent thought process over 200 years ago.

The book does get quite a few things right and the British should be credited for uniting India and giving it a national identity, before it was pett...more
When Robert Clive, a "harum-scarum schoolboy" not yet out of his teens, arrived in India in 1744, he found himself in the middle of chaos: English merchants fought against French traders, Indian princes warred among themselves, Portuguese and Dutch privateers plied the coasts, and throughout the country, anarchy reigned. Clive flourished amid the confusion. He quickly distinguished himself both in battle, showing bravery and unusual presence of mind, and in trade. The combination was p...more
This was my first book of Indian history under British rule from a British POV.
So, it was a bit of a paradigm-shift. Also, the first book overall that i have read for the period 1757-1857, which has virtually no books available on it. Also, the book is very well-rounded in the sense it explores social,cultural,economic aspects in reasonable depth too.

How does one rate a history book ?
Does one consider things that have been left out or does one consider the lack of depth on some issues or does o...more
While I found that I learned a lot about how and why the British were in India I also felt I really was seeing only one side of the story. This is a thoroughly researched volume of the Brit's domination and eventual release of one of their many conquered countries.

The Brits did bring many improvements such as education I can't help but wonder to how much detriment. Nowhere do I see an improvement in culture except for the Brits themselves. I would have liked to learn a bit more about the Indian...more
If you look at my list of books read you'll see that this book took me a very, very long time to finish. On that basis alone I'd thought of giving it 2 stars. For me this book was not "gripping," not a page-turner. Really, you have to have a well-above-average interest in imperial British history to find the book worth reading.

And yet it is very, very well-written, well researched, and in places dramatic. If you are interested in this period or want to fill a (potential) gap in your knowledge of...more
More of a political and a social overview, mostly about the English in India. Time's now to re read A Suitable Boy
An overall brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable book. Detailed, fair & balanced, and quite interesting.

A word of caution to potential young(er) readers- this book does deal with some of the more immoral issues that occurred in British India, all of which is quite true, altho' of course we did things to help improve those particular situations and did not leave them untouched. Anyway, I would probably caution younger readers about this, although 90% of the book would be appropriate for any age...more
Did a good job of explaining how Britain was able to conquer India/Pakistan and come to an accomodation in what is now Afghanistan with the rivalries caused by the collapse of the Mughal Empire. Of course Guns, Germs and Steel explains how Britain was doing the conquering and not India. It also gives a very good overview of the Partition and the tragedy that is still causing today. The author was too pro-British Empire for my taste but he makes some good points to counter the prevailing views in...more
Meirav Rath
Dec 23, 2007 Meirav Rath rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs, British Empire buffs
I discovered Lawrence James through this book and have fallen in love with his writing style through it. James draws such a full, rich, objective picture of the Raj and its history that you cannot help wonder at how perfect a historian he is. True, the book can probably give you a concussion if it ever fell on your head from a seemingly harmless hight but every page is worth the read; it's so thorough it'd be a shame to skip a single sentence.
I highly recommend this delightful book and have enj...more
Moses Operandi
"It was Okay."

I'm not any sort of Marxist revolutionary, but the way this guy talks about the Raj approaches worshipfulness. Coming from an Indian or even an Anglo-Indian, I would listen. I didn't finish the book, but it did seem from my perspective that Lawrence was somewhere to the right of Churchill on the India question. A good history perhaps, but the ideological compromises kept me from enjoying (or finishing) this brick of a book.
Maryanne Khan
A most most comprehensive and thoroughly (MOST thoroughly!) documented account of "how millions of Indians collaborated with their new rulers and made possible the government of so many by so few."

Absolutely crucial to understanding the historical basis of current perception of government in South Asia today.
Angad Brar
i hope,oneday author of this book will find some time for history reading,and stop this colonial propaganda.most biased book i've ever come near to.Mr.Lawrence James,theres other side of story too,if you ever interested in.and i assure you,it is far more gloomy than your rosy "british raj" stories
Although the book was informative in a lot of ways, the reader gets the feeling the author is only telling one side of the story. You don't get all the facts, thus making it impossible to truly understand how it all came to be. I would still recommend reading it, just don't expect too much.
Chuck Skorupski
An excellent resource for facts, events, figures and dates for the British Raj. Definitive and would make a great text book. I was looking for a more narrative popular history with a "feel" for the world and cultures of the Raj and in this respect the bookk is quite dry.
Dan Clark
Required reading if you want to know about India's modern history. I have the suspicion the author may be somewhat biased. Take some of his opinions with a grain of salt.
Lengthy, thorough account of the British presence in India. Fascinating look at imperialism and its impact on both nations.
Also a massive time commitment!
Manish Katyal
Really good book. Covers in-depth the 'Great Game', Robert Clive, Mountbatten, etc. However it is not for the Indian nationalist types.
Tough read! Informative and interesting but a slow read.
Guy Cranswick
Excellent and complete in the understanding of the relationship between Britain and India.
Tom Milton
An illuminating history of Britain in India that increased my understanding of both countries.
Mick Maye
Long book, perhaps too long. Tends to drag at times, but still covers the subject reasonably well.
Picked it up in Pakistan for 825 rupees (about $12). About time I got around to it...
This book is an encyclopedic overview of this topic.
Matthew Roche
Comprehensive. Very interesting time period.
Elijah Kinch Spector
Fre Book Day 2010!
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