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The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  83 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
"[A] lavishly enjoyable book." —Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal

Between 1837 and 1901, fewer than one thousand Britons at any one time managed an empire of 300 million people spread over the vast area that now includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma. How was this possible, and what were these people like? The British administration in India took pride in
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2005)
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Jan 05, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent overview of what life was like for the British members of the Indian Civil Service, 1857-1900. It's almost impossible to find a book on a topic like this that isn't full of revisionist cant, so straight history -- especially well written overviews like this -- are golden. Be advised that this really is a "day in the life," so there's very little background -- if you know nothing about the acquisition, history, and dismemberment of the Raj, you're not going to get much of it here. Bu ...more
There still seems to be an enduring fascination with Britain's colonial history, a certain glamour and exoticism that survives despite the criticism and disapproval of the reasons for being there in the first place. This book fully exposes how little glamour and exoticism there actually was in the service of the Raj, how hard and gruelling the life of an Indian Civil Service officer (known as Civilians to distinguish them from the Army) could be, how lonely and isolating. Some men thrived, other ...more
Carolyn Johnson
This book was a long slog for me, but the subject was significant for. I did learn all about what the Indian Civil Service actually did, (the organization the British men in India during the Raj worked in.) More than I needed to know, but now I can go on with my reading with more understanding. Next for me is "The Raj Quartet" by Paul Scott.
Apr 16, 2009 Eleanore rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Cartoonish images of civil-servants pervade the literature of British imperialism almost to the same degree as that cheerfully pompous figure of British military blundering, “Colonel Blimp.” David Gilmour, a writer who often finds himself earnestly battling the caricatures of Imperial history, turns his attention in The Ruling Caste towards the restitution of the reputation of the Indian Civil Service (ICS). Grounded heavily on the experience of Sir Alfred Lyall as an exemplar of the life of an ...more
meh. was alright, but kinda dry i thought. Ended up skipping through most of it, although definitely had some interesting stuff, and was well enough written, i just don't think i had enough interest invested to read it all the way through.
Jan 13, 2015 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book; well written, organized, and engaging. The writer has a great sense of humor.

However, I would highly recommend anyone looking to read this book have a least a couple books on the history of the British Raj under their belt, otherwise you'll be pretty lost.
Robert Davidson
May 15, 2015 Robert Davidson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative and detailed on how the I.C.S. worked although i would have liked to have more detail on the day to day life of Expats and how they coped. Incorruptible and the fact that most of them actually liked India and the people, made for interesting lives.
A good representative of what it is. After a slow start I quite enjoyed descriptions of life, work and play in the Indian Civil Service.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Sir David Robert Gilmour, 4th Baronet (b. 14 November 1952) is a Scottish author. He is the first son of Ian Gilmour, Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar, 3rd Baronet, and Lady Caroline Margaret Montagu-Douglas-Scott, the youngest daughter of the 8th Duke of Buccleuch. HRH Princess
More about David Gilmour...

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