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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, engaging and full of trivia
In response to the other review posted of this book,you are just plain wrong! Richard Holmes has once again excelled himself with a truly compulsive history that provides some excellent elaboration on the contents of his earlier works "Redcoat" and "Wellington". Admittedly the first 90 or so pages which outline the background of the British in India and Afghanistan are...
Published on 25 Feb 2007 by Caterkiller

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars British Soldiers in India
Any book by Richard Holmes is worth reading but it has to be said that this is not his best book. I think the problem is the breadth of the subject and the decision to cover it thematically. I can see the logic but the consequence is that the large number of characters quoted drift in and out of the narrative leaving anyone not already well versed in indian military...
Published 11 months ago by P. J. Connolly


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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, engaging and full of trivia, 25 Feb 2007
By 
Caterkiller (Darlington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 (Paperback)
In response to the other review posted of this book,you are just plain wrong! Richard Holmes has once again excelled himself with a truly compulsive history that provides some excellent elaboration on the contents of his earlier works "Redcoat" and "Wellington". Admittedly the first 90 or so pages which outline the background of the British in India and Afghanistan are pretty hard work but once you get past those this book is a treasure trove of rarely discussed historical nuggets. There are excellent descriptions of the joys of "pig-sticking", the British sport of choice, the (usually brutal) punishments meted out to recalcitrant soldiers, and just as you expect the book to be winding down there are excellent closing chapters on sanitation, prostitution and the bizarre matrimonial escapades of the soldiers and officers. Some geo-political background is necessary, for example,to understand the differences between British Army troops, East India Company troops and privateers but in the main this book gives an excellent "ground-level" view of 18th & 19th century soldiering.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A proper pucka book, 16 Jun 2007
By 
SAP (Wales) - See all my reviews
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Having previously read Holmes's other works, "Redcoat" and "Tommy", I knew what to expect, and, all in all, I wasn't disappointed. As the author says in the preface, this isn't a moralizing book. It isn't in the remit of the book to serve judgement on the rights and wrongs of empire. What Holmes actually does is say what happened and what were the day-to-day experiences of the people involved, whether they be British soldiers, sepoys, British civilians or Indian civilians. This book is packed full of the most interesting extracts from the letters and journals of those involved. However, not wishing to detract too much from an engaging book, the prose is a little bit clunky at times; I found myself re-reading sentences quite regularly and even then only understanding the gist of what was intended, rather than the details. One slight problem I encountered was the naming of the chapters being a bit mysterious. I couldn't consistently predict from its title what each chapter would be about and they often digressed and overlapped. Still, it's a welcome addition to my collection -- well worth a read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sahib, 17 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. S. Mcmanus "Steve McManus" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 (Paperback)
An extremmely well written and interesting book, structured in such a way that it gives a real insight into the lives of the early expeditionary forces sent to Imperial India to guard and protect British Interests.
One can almost smell the camp-fires and the latrines and the powder-smoke of the British lines, such is the realism and candour of the narrative.
Prior to reading this book I could not have imagined the amount of effort and money that was involved just in being a British officer in India, the number of servants that one had to have (as well as their upkeep!), horses, camels, even elephants.
How their tents were made and what they had to take on campaigns and what pleased or digruntled the British soldier - it's all in here.
A truly absorbing read; I've read it 3 times and learned new things every time I read it. Essential reading for those interested in the history of the British in India.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars British Soldiers in India, 14 May 2013
By 
P. J. Connolly "Caractacus" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 (Paperback)
Any book by Richard Holmes is worth reading but it has to be said that this is not his best book. I think the problem is the breadth of the subject and the decision to cover it thematically. I can see the logic but the consequence is that the large number of characters quoted drift in and out of the narrative leaving anyone not already well versed in indian military history somewhat adrift and confused. Nonetheless how the British came to rule their vast Indian Empire and how they want about their task is an absorbing subject. The military, both those of the British Army and those of the East India Company, were a central part of the story but are rarely considered in their own right. To that extent this Book fills a gap and gives a very good impression of what it was like to be a British soldier in India. It was a daunting proposition because if death in battle did not get you then disease probably would. For the fortunate few fame and wealth were the result and there were enough of them to ensure the lure of India never dimmed. Considering the comparatively short period of overseas service rotations in the modern army it is staggering to reflect how long a private soldier would spend away before returning home, 10 or even 20 years. No wonder the survivors found it so hard to adapt to life when they finally returned home. I have to admit to having more admiration for those times prior to the mutiny when relations with the local population were closer and many officers went native. The stuffier more paranoid and class based period after the Mutiny reads much less well to modern eyes.
An enjoyable read for anyone interested in India during the time of the Raj.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sahib, 19 May 2013
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This review is from: Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 (Paperback)
As usual, Richard Holmes does not fail us. Must be the definitive book on the British soldier in India up the beginning of 20th century. I wonder how the British survived there, let alone 'conquered' India. Everything was against them; caste, customs, weather, disease, wars, being in the minority in everything. To all this they behaved incredibly badly to the native population. If you are in the vast minority, you don't insult the majority especially if they tend to be over sensitive on some issues. But they did and most times got away with it. All the time, though, there was time simmering resentment against the occupiers. It boiled over on many occasions, the Mutiny of 1857 being the most famous. Mind you, there was also a 'caste' system in British society and the underclass were treated no better that the Indians. After 'Redcoat' and 'Tommy' this a fitting part of the trilogy. Regrets that the death of Richard Holmes prevents us from being informed, educated and entertained by his new books in the future
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Raj Brought To Life, 9 April 2014
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Lots of interesting characters and great detail. Richard Holmes created a work of art when writing this book and he is sadly missed.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Background, 21 July 2011
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This review is from: Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 (Paperback)
I bought the book hoping it would give some background knowledge for a story I wanted to write about my Grandfather and Great Grandfather who both spent time in India, serving in the 7th and 18th Hussars respectly. It has been written very well, there isn't great long list of facts and figures, each fact is backed up by a personnal account by a soldier at the time. It is a very readable book.
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7 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not his best, 9 July 2006
By 
Mr. R. J. Nichol "rich" (BFPO Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 (Paperback)
I have read and enjoyed most of his works but this one was hard going - in fact boring. I hoped for much more real life account on the frontier soldier, but he goes on and on about the top political level of governing India which is not the title of the book!

I might go back to it (only got a few chapters in) but I will need to be bored.
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Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914
Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 by Richard Holmes (Paperback - 3 April 2006)
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