John Keay

Considerate Killers

Thug: The True Story of India’s Murderous Religion

By

Granta 317pp £20 order from our bookshop

As killers go, the Thugs of India must rate among the most considerate. Traditionally they targeted only adult male travellers and, before assaulting them, went out of their way to reassure them by making themselves immensely agreeable. To be thagi meant literally to be ‘a deceiver’, a conman to whom the art of ingratiation was just as important as that of killing. Their softening-up tactics could go on for days. Attaching themselves to some suitable party, the Thugs – they always worked in gangs – would enliven the weary miles with cheerful comradeship, assist with the campsite chores, and fill the long dark evenings with songs and anecdotes. Their presence seemed less a threat than a protection, and by all accounts there was no better company to be met with in the wastes of central India in the early nineteenth century. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,