A SUNDAY TIMES, THE TIMES, SPECTATOR, NEW STATESMAN, TLS BOOK OF THE YEAR
The British in this book lived in India from shortly after the reign of Elizabeth I until well into the reign of Elizabeth II. Who were they? What drove these men and women to risk their lives on long voyages down the Atlantic and across the Indian Ocean or later via the Suez Canal? And when they got to India, what did they do and how did they live?
This book explores the lives of the many different sorts of Briton who went to India: viceroys and offcials, soldiers and missionaries, planters and foresters, merchants, engineers, teachers and doctors. It evokes the three and a half centuries of their ambitions and experiences, together with the lives of their families, recording the diversity of their work and their leisure, and the complexity of their relationships with the peoples of India. It also describes the lives of many who did not fit in with the usual image of the Raj: the tramps and rascals, the men who 'went native', the women who scorned the role of the traditional memsahib.
David Gilmour has spent decades researching in archives, studying the papers of many people who
have never been written about before, to create a magnificent tapestry of British life in India. It is
exceptional work of scholarly recovery portrays individuals with understanding and humour, and makes an original and engaging contribution to a long and important period of British and Indian history.
Brimming with colourful details, his book has no time for academic jargon or pretentious theorising ... Gilmour is interested in human complexity, not in moralistic posturing
This is the best kind of history: meticulously researched, elegantly and entertainingly written, and as wide in its sympathies as it is long in its reach
Glorious, human, colourful, teeming and spicy. If you read just one book on imperial India, let it be this
He knows the material backwards and marshals it with style, elegance and wit ... The British in India should be the first book that anybody consults on the East India Company or the Raj
All British colonial life in India is here present in elegant prose, 350 years of battles and durbars, maharajahs' balls, viceregal tiger shoots and Shimla shenanigans telescoped down into telling anecdotes and witty, skilfully sketched vignettes
The British in India is an exceptional book ... a penetrating and vivid portrait of the British men and women who ran the show from the mid-18th century to 1947
Impressive ... This is a rich and nuanced social history that does not treat every British footstep on the subcontinent as if it were a step on the way to the Amritsar massacre. That does not make it an imperial whitewash.
Extraordinary ... It simply has to be read, over and over again
He gives us just about everything one has ever heard of, or would wish to know, about the British in India, from what these expatriates ate - anglicised curries and kedgeree, with chicken as a backstop - to their painful separation from their children, who were sent "home" to school at the age of five. Superbly researched, The British in India is authoritative and comprehensive