For those who haven’t seen my short review of the dreadful book by the American activist Caroline Elkins in the excellent The Critic, I attach it here. Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire, by Caroline Elkins (New York: Knopf; London: Bodley Head) 896 pp., $37.50 / £30.
Well done in exposing this travesty of the facts. I would have hoped that Bodley Head would have known better. On my first visit to India, many years ago, an Indian civil servant said to me 'There has always been corruption in India, but it stopped at the first Englishman. Now it goes all the way up to the Cabinet'.
I’ll give this one a miss shall I? As I have said many times I’ve got no problems with a critical assessment of the Empire, none at all, I just require nuance, balance.
I think that the constant missing acknowledgement in all these type of narratives is that governing a population of hundreds of millions with just a few thousand required consent. At the moment that consent was withdrawn then the Raj became untenable.
The majority of Indians went along with the project and many joined in with it. The Indian Civil Service was a case in point. The education system was set up to help enable local people to be trained to play a part in running the state. A few white men scattered across the continent weren't going to be able to do it on their own.
But I guess nuance is not really a staple of modern historiography.
Americans don't seem to like anything that smacks of empire building or colonising - unless of course - it's their own efforts in that direction.
An excellent review Dr Lyman - but then you are preaching to the converted. I'm almost tempted to buy the book but then I would be as incensed as you
Thank you Robert a forthright and damning review but your opinion is gratefully received. A book I shall avoid if not simply for the sake of my blood pressure
Excellent review Dr Robert