4th out of 16 books — 7 voters
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Children of Kali: Through India in Search of Bandits, the Thug Cult, and the British Raj
by Kevin Rushby
In the early 1800s, the greatest criminal gang in history operated throughout India. Its members were inspired by religious fanatics and came from many faiths, yet they worshiped one goddess, Kali. In her name, they murdered more than one million Indian travelers--all without spilling a drop of blood. Their weapon was the handkerchief, their sacrament sugar, and the gang w ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Walker & Company
(first published January 1st 2002)
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I read this for research to learn more about the Thuggees, and found the book to be much deeper than a mere history lesson. Rushby wrote a book that is part travelogue of modern India and part history lesson, all about how the idea of thugs and Kali were perceived in the 19th century and now. He's British and he's very forthright about the deeds committed during the British colonial period--many details that I, as an American, was ignorant of. He comes to some fascinating conclusions regarding t ...more
Kevin Rushby, an English writer, sets off for India with the intention of searching for both a modern day bandit and traces of the thugee cult of the 19th century. In the most graceful of turns, his attention shifts to the paranoia of the British Raj and the causes of the seemingly ubiquitous corruption in contemporary India. Frankly, I'd go anywhere Mr. Rushby wants to take me.
Thank you, Kevin Rushby, for giving me back my appetite for travel-writers. A multitude of serendipitous events propelled me in the direction of “Children of Kali” – a recent taking up of yoga, a re-ignited fascination with all things Indian, and a bizarre mid-winter proliferation of blood-red hibiscus (a symbol of the goddess Kali herself) in my garden. Whatever. I am so grateful it all led me to this fascinating odyssey through the India of the ‘thugees’. Rushby has woven a complex tapestry un ...more
So what I really wanted to read was Mike Dash's "Thug" but am having trouble finding a (reasonably priced) copy. I guess it was my mistake to try to substitute. I honestly couldn't make it through the book for several reasons. The first is that it was boring. I repeatedly had to struggle to stay awake on the train while reading it. I think, for me, it's biggest flaw was that the author inserted himself too much into a story that was purportedly about the history of Indian thug culture. I really ...more
As a travelogue through history in search of India's "Thug Cult", "Children of Kali" is fairly interesting and populated by vivid characters. Where the book fails is a rather narrow-minded Western view of the Goddess Kali as patroness of thieves and killers rather than the Great Mother whom millions worship the world over.
After I finished University (Newcastle) in 1982 I bought a one-way ticket to Cairo and set off travelling. Never having been abroad before I was understandably shocked on arrival in Cairo. Walking out the airport at 2 a.m. looking for a bus (no money for a taxi) I saw a line of people sleeping under their white sheets and joined them. Having built up a bit more courage later I ended up travelling ...moreMore about Kevin Rushby...