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Black Hole of Calcutta Paperback – Bargain Price, July 30, 2003
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About the Author
Noel Barber (born 1909) is the author of among other titles, The Sultans, The White Desert and A Sinister Twilight.
Top customer reviews
This book describes miscalculations taken by the British and by the Indian Ruler, the bravery, the cowardary, the ignorance, and the brutal attitudes taken by all sides.
Noel Barber does not mince words: the nightmare of the Black Hole could have been avoided over and over again, but the head of the British India Company and the Military Head mismanaged at every turn. They deserted their posts, and even when they had the means of saving the other members of the Fort (without risk to themselves), they refused.
The chapter covering the Night of the Black Hole was disturbing enough that I lost sleep that night. The situation has an unreal aspect to it that makes one wonder about the people who stood on either side of the barred windows that night. Captives and captors exhibited both the best and worst of human nature.
I suppose one would be tempted to claim that the entire story is a type of microcosm of our present world. I pray not.
The imagination itself has more than a whiff of racial superiority about it, with Oriental stereotypes abound which rapidly become irritating. These are counter balanced by a vivid potrayal of the pathetic Governor and the Head of the Military in Calcutta aswell as countless other functionaries both civil and military.
There are only a few pages to put the events into any context so unless you have existing knowledge of India in the 18th Century you are going to be left a bit high and dry. The interpretation itself is fatally lamed by the racial attitudes and the undefined "imaginative" element. It is quite easy to read - I read it in a couple of sittings - but didnt feel it cast much in the way of light into the infamous Black Hole and the fall of Calcutta. Im sorry I bought the dam thing!