‘The Collateral Damage of Progress’

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Despite the received wisdom that almost any observation about India is as true as it is false, the pile of books attempting to ‘explain’ the country grows ever higher. But if generalisations about India are too big and specifics too small, what is left for a writer to write? In Makers of Modern India, historian […]

The Bengali Pimpernel

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Despite twelve volumes of Collected Works, thirty-odd biographies and innumerable studies and festschrifts, Subhas Chandra Bose remains an enigma. To contemporaries engaged in the struggle for Indian independence in the 1930s he was an inspiration – fearless, intellectually robust and highly articulate. Twice elected president of the Congress Party, Bose represented a radical Bengali alternative […]

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The End of Violence

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In March 2010, almost twelve months after the hostilities in northern Sri Lanka that had caught the world’s attention had finished, I drove up the road from the town of Vavuniya to Kilinochchi, the former headquarters of the Tamil Tigers. Velupillai Prabhakaran, the violent and dictatorial leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), […]

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A Failed State?

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Back in 1966, The Times gushed over Pakistan’s success, describing it as ‘one of the most remarkable examples of state and nation building in the post-war period’. In the decades since, the newspaper’s discursive arsenal has been equipped with somewhat different ideas: in March 2009, it described a Pakistan that was ‘losing the war on […]

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The National Dish

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Described as ‘a history of the Indian subcontinent and its various rulers through a history of its food’, Curry: A Biography might more accurately be called Curry: A Travelogue. Sweeping through 2,000 years of history and swirling round the globe from Kerala and Kashmir to Java, Tonga, Birmingham and back again, it is the story […]

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Countries Consumed

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The history of humanity is largely the history of empires, and empires have always striven to keep the conquerors separate from the conquered. For all the stern reality of such distinctions, however, they have never been absolute – the story of empire, as Maya Jasanoff argues in this captivating book, is not just of the […]

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Cold Showers

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

An occupational hazard of publishing on British India is that you get bombarded with genealogical enquiries. The correspondents, though polite, can be quite persistent and not easily persuaded that all reference to Ensign Dobbs of the 43rd has somehow eluded your researches. In the 1970s, when the India Office Library and Records were still housed […]

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Pillars of the Nation

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

From their first recorded meeting in 1901, the lives of two of the most celebrated statesmen of the twentieth century, Lloyd George and Churchill, were inextricably intertwined. For almost fifty years, surviving disputes and arguments, their shared passion for politics bound them together. It was a friendship that endured until Lloyd George’s death in 1945.

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