David Gilmour

Colonial Conundrums

India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire


Simon & Schuster 549pp £25 order from our bookshop

Favourable judgements on the British Raj are in short supply nowadays. We have come a long way from the time when Bismarck was predicting that Britain’s work in India would be ‘one of its lasting monuments’ and Teddy Roosevelt was praising the British for doing ‘such marvellous things’ that they would transform the subcontinent as thoroughly as Rome had transformed Western Europe. Even conservative historians now only hesitantly suggest that possibly or ‘on the whole’ British rule might have had some benefits, that it established the rule of law and preserved religious freedoms, and that it bequeathed a fine civil service and set India on the road to constitutional government.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,