The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller on India's experience of British colonialism, by the internationally-acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor 'Tharoor's impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires ... laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read' Financial Times In the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. The Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation. British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial 'gift' - from the railways to the rule of law - was designed in Britain's interests alone. He goes on to show how Britain's Industrial Revolution was founded on India's deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry. In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain's stained Indian legacy.
Book Review: Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire, What the British did to India
Author: Avi Bachenheimer
Publisher: Harper Collins
Shashi Tharoor’s “Inglorious Empire” is an account of “What the British did to India”. The book is composed in eight chapters through which Tharoor deals with the implications of two centuries of British colonialism. The author assembles a thematic record of deliberate policies pursued by the British aristocracy and he examines how those strategies in action, led to the depredation and looting of the Indian resources, starvation of its people, fragmentation of its social identity and destruction of its cultural and economic base in the course of two centuries. Tharoor’s book is not a chronology of the British colonial machinery and it should not be treated so. The narrative is shaped to converge in certain historical events – such as partition of India – in a flowing arrangement of themes that are the over-arching characteristic of the record the author is providing.
Race, Identity and Hierarchy in International Relations
Author: Alexander E. Davis
Category: Social Science
India has become known in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia as ‘the world’s largest democracy’, a ‘natural ally’, the ‘democratic counterweight’ to China and a trading partner of ‘massive economic potential’. This new foreign policy orthodoxy assumes that India will join with these four states and act just as any other democracy would. A set of political and think tank elites has emerged which seek to advance the cause of a culturally superior, if ill-defined, ‘Anglosphere’. Building on postcolonial and constructivist approaches to international relations, this book argues that the same Eurocentric assumptions about India pervade the foreign policies of the Anglosphere states, international relations theory and the idea of the Anglosphere. The assertion of a shared cultural superiority has long guided the foreign policies of the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, and this has been central to these states’ relationships with postcolonial India. This book details these difficulties through historical and contemporary case studies, which reveal the impossibility of drawing India into Anglosphere-type relationships. At the centre of India-Anglosphere relations, then, is not a shared resonance over liberal ideals, but a postcolonial clash over race, identity and hierarchy. A valuable contribution to the much-needed scholarly quest to follow a critical lens of inquiry into international relations, this book will be of interest to academics and advanced students in international relations, Indian foreign policy, Asian studies, and those interested in the ‘Anglosphere’ as a concept in international affairs.
The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812
Author: Troy Bickham
Publisher: Oxford University Press
In early 1815, Secretary of State James Monroe reviewed the treaty with Britain that would end the War of 1812. The United States Navy was blockaded in port; much of the army had not been paid for nearly a year; the capital had been burned. The treaty offered an unexpected escape from disaster. Yet it incensed Monroe, for the name of Great Britain and its negotiators consistently appeared before those of the United States. "The United States have acquired a certain rank amongst nations, which is due to their population and political importance," he brazenly scolded the British diplomat who conveyed the treaty, "and they do not stand in the same situation as at former periods." Monroe had a point, writes Troy Bickham. In The Weight of Vengeance, Bickham provides a provocative new account of America's forgotten war, underscoring its significance for both sides by placing it in global context. The Napoleonic Wars profoundly disrupted the global order, from India to Haiti to New Orleans. Spain's power slipped, allowing the United States to target the Floridas; the Haitian slave revolt contributed to the Louisiana Purchase; fears that Britain would ally with Tecumseh and disrupt the American northwest led to a pre-emptive strike on his people in 1811. This shifting balance of power provided the United States with the opportunity to challenge Britain's dominance of the Atlantic world. And it was an important conflict for Britain as well. Powerful elements in the British Empire so feared the rise of its former colonies that the British government sought to use the War of 1812 to curtail America's increasing maritime power and its aggressive territorial expansion. And by late 1814, Britain had more men under arms in North America than it had in the Peninsular War against Napoleon, with the war with America costing about as much as its huge subsidies to European allies. Troy Bickham has given us an authoritative, lucidly written global account that transforms our understanding of this pivotal war.
No empire has been larger or more diverse than the British Empire. At its apogee in the 1930s, 42 million Britons governed 500 million foreign subjects. Britannia ruled the waves and a quarter of the earth's surface was painted red on the map. Yet no empire (except the Russian) disappeared more swiftly. Within a generation this mighty structure collapsed, often amid bloodshed, leaving behind a scatter of sea-girt dependencies and a ghost of an empire, the Commonwealth, overshadowed by Imperial America. It left a contested legacy: at best a sporting spirit, a legal code and a near-universal language; at worst, failed states and internecine strife. Full of vivid particulars, brief lives, telling anecdotes, comic episodes, symbolic moments and illustrative vignettes, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire is popular history at its scholarly best.