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Great Mutiny: India 1857
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Hibberts opens with a set-piece describing the opulent lifestyle of a 19th-century British official in Delhi named Thomas Metcalfe - three-story brick house with classical colonnade, brass band, tables with their legs set in water to keep off the red ants, a 10 to 2 work-day -- and goes on from there to describe the unhappiness of the Bengal Army and the explosion in the Meerut garrison; the capture of Delhi by the Meerut sepoys, the troubled reaction of the 82-year-old King, and the ensuing British siege; memorable events in Lucknow, Kanpur and Jhansi, etc; and the eventual British victory. Beautifully sourced from contemporary diaries, letters, and testimony to various boards of inquiry; sympathetic to and critical of both sides at various times.
One can quibble - more Indian sources would be appreciated, and it would be interesting to learn the reason the Bengal Army revolted while the armies of Madras and Bombay did not - but we should not complain that Hibberts did not write a different book.
This seems to me precisely what the previous reviewer has done in berating Hibberts for not writing a denunciation of British rule in India. Adding to this the respectively goofy and outrageous accusations that the British introduced bribery to India, and that their government can be compared with that of the Nazis in occupied Europe, simply makes him look hysterical.
The fact is, India has been independent for fifty years, & the EIC was abolished a century before that. The fight is long over & surely we can do our best to describe events as they happened, and judge people, both British and Indians, based on the times in which they lived. I believe Hibberts tries to do so.
He correctly points out that the Indian Mutiny was NOT a "national rebellion" against British rule but a mutiny of SOME of the regiments in the Bengal Army (the VAST majority of Indians remained loyal to the British). He also remembers that the majority of the forces used by the British were INDIAN and Sikhs. By cutting through the revisionist clap-trap, Mr, Hibbert shows the reader a refreshingly accurate view of the actions in the Indian Mutiny.
Unfortunatly, his analysis falls short on the overall picture but focuses on individual accounts. He is a bit long-winded on unimportant details and then tries to make them fit into the grand scheme, which sometimes doesn't quite fit. He dwells on the truly barbaric nature of the mutineers toward unarmed civilians, particularly women and children, but glosses over the fact that the vast majority of their victims were their own countrymen (so much for a so-called struggle for freedom!).
But the strength of the book is his unashamed telling of the Indian Mutiny as what it WAS - with all the brutallity and desperation of the rebels against a shocked, angered and, yes, finally brutal European population and military. The reactions of the British to the mutineers are correctly shown IN CONTEXT to the times they took place and might shock those who know (or care) little of the mid 19th century world and their views of "justice" in any nation.Read more ›
This is first and only book I've read by the author, but it's certenly not the last.
This is my first book on the Indian Mutiny. It was excellent history lesson for me. The book braodly covers all the mutiny episodes.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read. The Highlanders, Sir Colin Campbell..."Colonel Ewert, bring on the tartan!" History doesn't get better than this...Published 4 months ago by J. Steinbeck
A brilliantly-written book! Seldom has anyone had the courage and the perseverance to do the research on this event in history and then to write it with clarity and honesty. Read morePublished on September 13, 2013 by Jeff Siddiqui
After 100 years in India, the British had created a true Frankenstein monster. They had armed and trained thousands of Indian soldiers, never dreaming they would ever turn their... Read morePublished on May 26, 2013 by Mark Miller
If you are looking for a history of India 1857 and the sepoy mutiny then this is a wonderful resource. Read morePublished on November 2, 2009 by J. Carter
Mr. Hibbert has rendered an excellent analysis of the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857. Of course from the perspective of the natives this was a Freedom Struggle NOT a mutiny. Read morePublished on September 27, 2004 by Kersi Von Zerububbel
This is a very biased book.It tries to depict Indians as treacherous and savages. Writer has never bothered to verify facts from sources other than British. Read morePublished on November 27, 2002 by Vijay Kumar
The book is a collection of haphazrd details none of them of any significance. The style of the narrative: to start with an everyday event and roll it into something significant,... Read morePublished on May 25, 2002 by WhoWasJohnG