John Keay

The Bengali Pimpernel

His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle against Empire

By

Belknap Press/Harvard University Press 388pp £25.95 order from our bookshop

Subhas Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany: Politics, Intelligence and Propaganda 1941–43

By

Hurst and Co 224pp £20 order from our bookshop

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 to both the non-violent utopianism of Gandhi and the high-minded dithering of Nehru. In the triumvirate of prewar nationalist leaders he alone consistently demanded unconditional independence and cold-shouldered the constitutional consultations and initiatives elicited from the British. Perhaps it helped that he was more often behind bars than not. Detachment from the infighting within the Congress and from its slanging match with the Muslim League only added to his popularity. Clear-sighted and inflexible, he could not be distracted from the fundamental injustice of British rule and the paramount need for every Indian to contest it.

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

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,