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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An superb survey of a key part of British and Indian history
This book takes a wide perspective on a key component of both British and Indian history. He deals impressively with matters as diverse as racial attitudes, the part played by the Raj in Britain's position in the ninteenth century world, and the rise of Indian nationalism. All of this is done in a readable and engaging manner which must mark it down as one of the best...
Published on 13 Feb 2002

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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Glorification of Empire
This book is a scholarly and well-researched effort. Nevertheless, it's frustratingly orthodox and does not develop a critical perspective. What we have here is an account of the British establishment in India: only one side of the story. Indian society is viewed in the context of this establishment, as a passive subservient actor and not an independent force. As a...
Published on 22 Jan 2012 by Mark Stokle


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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An superb survey of a key part of British and Indian history, 13 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This book takes a wide perspective on a key component of both British and Indian history. He deals impressively with matters as diverse as racial attitudes, the part played by the Raj in Britain's position in the ninteenth century world, and the rise of Indian nationalism. All of this is done in a readable and engaging manner which must mark it down as one of the best surveys of this immense subject that have been written in recent years.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A more balanced account of a controversial subject!, 9 Jun 2009
By 
E. Love "Uptown Funky Stuff" (Suffolk, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (Paperback)
Raj offers a very good account of the 'making and unmaking' of the British in India in an informative style. This is supported by less heavy reading in the form of comparison to the 'film and fiction' of the time, mainly adventure films of young men making their fortune in India.
This allows the reader to separate fact from fiction in their own mind and the conclusion of the book allows the reader to appreciate the achievements of the Raj but understand why it had to end.
A very good book, do buy it!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 24 Feb 2007
By 
K. Abraham (Southampton, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (Paperback)
This is a very good piece of work by Lawrence James. I like his style of writing which is simple, effective and oftentimes humorous. I don't hesitate in reccomending it. I picked this little gem up from a discount book store at a store in West London when I was studying as an undergraduate. Great book - do buy it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raj, 20 Sep 2011
This review is from: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (Paperback)
Just fantastic well researched balanced and a really good read for such a massive subject. Anyone interested in British India should start with this book
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98 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A realistic view in a world of political correctness, 4 Dec 2002
By 
Neil (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (Paperback)
James has produced a definitive account of the British Empire's greatest achievement without succumbing to the political correctness that clouds our ability to analyse and conclude based solely on the facts and the views of the time. The book traces the path from the initial fedual oligarchies with whom other nations and peoples had traded for centuries to the creation of the jewel of the world's largest empire to the today's position as the largest democracy in the world. This is an account of which both Indians and Britons should be immensely proud. From the British perspective, the legacy is a large and stable democracy able to solve its own problems as a largely united people under the rule of law. A country with an infrastructure and an open democratic process that is the envy of many other bankrupt, tribal and murderous ex-colonies of the European powers. For the Indians, a sense of proud nationhood not forged through brutal civil war and genocide and a true place and identity in the modern world. They retain a true love of Britain as a grateful friend.
I would recommend this book to those who wish to learn about a shared history through analysis of truth and facts
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Glorification of Empire, 22 Jan 2012
By 
Mark Stokle (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (Paperback)
This book is a scholarly and well-researched effort. Nevertheless, it's frustratingly orthodox and does not develop a critical perspective. What we have here is an account of the British establishment in India: only one side of the story. Indian society is viewed in the context of this establishment, as a passive subservient actor and not an independent force. As a result, the fundamental effects of British rule on Indian society are overlooked. In his conclusions, Mr. James suggests that the colonization of the subcontinent was a positive development, even for the average Indian person.

In my opinion, several of the author's evaluations are problematic. When describing the initial conquest of Bengal, he fails to properly examine how the British destroyed its manufacturing industry. The East India Company deprived Bengal of its economic independence, in order to transform it into an export market for British goods (cotton). The effects of this policy were devastating, but Mr. James only devotes a few pages to it.

The author's coverage of the 1857 Mutiny is misleading. He correctly points out that this was more a rebellion than a mutiny, but also conveys the impression that Indians were divided in their reactions to it. Although the upper classes of Indian society generally backed the British, these only constituted a minute fraction of the Indian population. James tends to neglect the lower classes and their interpretations of this event. I would also question the description of the Raj as 'resurgent' following the Mutiny, when in fact this crisis proved what a damning failure the Company's administration of India had been up to that point. The effects of the Mutiny could be felt for years afterwards.

Some important 20th-century events are poorly recorded and often misunderstood. The 1943-4 Bengal Famine, for example, was responsible for the death of nearly 3 million people; but it only receives a four-page description. James claims that the British administration was "taken by surprise" when the famine began. Yet there is clear documentary evidence that Churchill deliberately starved Bengal to feed the UK (see Mukerjee "Churchill's Secret War").

Britain's behavior during the process of de-colonization is painted in a generally positive light, with partition described as gradually becoming inevitable. James only devotes a few passages to Churchill, who once said how "delighted" he was at the prospect of Jinnah and his Muslim League sowing division in the independence ranks. Mountbatten is judged sympathetically, even though his decision to partition India ended in complete disaster and a great loss of life.

Overall, this book presents a good assessment of the mentality and objectives of British rulers during the Raj period. Although not overtly biased, its narrative tends to glorify the British project in India - a view most Indians would probably disagree with. Therefore, the work's main theme is also its overriding weakness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Personal Raj, 28 Jun 2011
By 
O. McGonagle (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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In making a family genealogy I had basic details of one of my great grandfathers who had joined the 54th Regiment of Foot and was sent to India in mid nineteenth century. In the circumstances this book provided the kind of information that set events of his life in context. It is indeed an account of the making and unmaking of British India, the political, social military and personal, with wide angle lens and close focus where necessary. No punches are pulled by the author especially in relation to the partition of the country into India and Pakistan. This book is also a useful source for anyone interested in current affairs in the region.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended., 2 Feb 2012
By 
Malcolm Gillett (Cornwall, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (Paperback)
Bought as a gift for a friend, I was pleased with the punctual delivery. After enquiry, my friend is enjoying the reading very much. Written in an interesting, factual and gripping way. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Empire in a tea cup, 23 May 2011
By 
Mr. L. A. Okeefe "scutterluke" (Birmingham England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (Paperback)
As a history teacher I am currently teaching the History of British India and the partition, broght this book to help with my factual knowledge, an excellent book really well written and informative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Empire Strikes Back? Read this along with other texts to get a balanced view, 2 Dec 2013
This review is from: Raj (Kindle Edition)
Readers of the Daily Telegraph will love this book. Readers of the Daily Mail might also like it, if they could get it intravenously - but there are too many long words, not enough pictures and the unwanted immigrants in this book are mostly British... so maybe not. I am pretty sure most readers of the Guardian will hate it, but they really shouldn't.

One hundred years ago stories of British India were jingoistic and frankly racist, this was wrong. Today most histories of British India are accusatory or apologetic, this is almost as wrong and almost as racist. Clearly no history can ever be truly unbiased. Unfortunately. in writing about Indian history many authors and critics begin with the premise of "Them" and "Us". One side in a sense defined by a perceived link through some sort of genetic chain to Clive of India, the other by a similar perceived link to the victims of General Dyer and to Mahatma Gandhi. This in not to say that authors from the Clive side of the divide often have a pro-imperialist slant, far from it they usually feel a need to express some form of penitence by wallowing in every crime and misdemeanor (and there are plenty of these).

Lawrence James obviously does not feel any need for self flagellation and he has produced a book with a distinctly pro-imperialist tint. Nevertheless, the story he has to tell is fact rich and populated with real people (warts and all). His description of Gandhi will outrage many as he sees him as an all too human figure and not the incredible Saint usually depicted. In contrast his Curzon is a more complex and sympathetic figure than most readers will be familiar with.

The truth is that the characters who formed British India and post colonial India were all fascinating and all complex, with good and bad. Committing atrocities, but also often showing compassion and valor in equal measure. Most of all they do not belong to "Them" or "Us". As this book shows, most would not have recognized the clear cut distinction. They acted for motives that were rarely linked to national imperatives, but rather personal needs. Clive did not do what he did for the benefit of Mr Jones who lives in his semi detached house in Burnage. Much less was Gandhi motivated by a link to Mrs Singh living in Dundee. This book shows that British India was born from a long series of unlikely accidental events and died in a similar fashion. We can learn much about our past and future from reading it.
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Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India
Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India by Lawrence James (Paperback - 5 Nov 1998)
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