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on 11 July 2017
Changed my thinking of British Raj forever. Great work, but won't keep you "glued", you need to push yourself to finish the book.

I off course didn't like the author trying to certify his political party in many places in the book.
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on 26 January 2017
It boils your blood...
Exactly why Shashi is regarded as the finest intellectual of the modern times...
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on 3 March 2018
I have just finished reading the extremely well researched book "An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India". The idea for writing this book, as the author has pointed out, germinated from the rave reviews and spontaneous favourable reactions his Oxford Debate had evoked. At the outset, I must say that the book is ambitious (in these sense that anti colonial feelings do not have many buyers these days) but the passion - backed with solid facts - with which the author backs his claims is praiseworthy. This monumental work belies the claims of Anglophones that the British Raj bequeathed legacies like the Railways, Tea, Cricket and English language which they had introduced for the benefit of the colonized masses. Tharoor, very systematically, shatters the myth around the Liberalism, Rule of Law, Freedom of Expression which the British so loudly proclaimed but failed to offer to their subjects in the Indian sub continent. The praises in favour of free flow of capital, goods and labour which is credited to have been brought about by the "benign" British policies are countered with irrefutable evidence of indentured labour, slavery and skewed trade policies which played havoc with the Indian economy to the extent that its share in the global GDP went down from 23% in the year 1700 to 3% in the year 1947. The author has exposed the duplicity of the British rulers by showing how they subsidized the lifestyles of the Civil Servants, the merchants and the politicians by repatriating the profits to Britain. Of special interest in the section on Railways which shows the construction of those now only caused the clearing of wide swathes of forest cover but also, by awarding contracts to unscrupulous contractors, the British actually caused more harm than good. Tharoor reserves his most scathing attack on the acts of commission and ommission which caused frequent famines and epidemics resulting in large scale death and destitution. In the last chapter, the author connects the dots to argue how the legacy of the colonialism still plagues the world in places like Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The festering wounds of Palestine, Syria_Iraq, Cyprus, the Sri Lankan Tamils, Ethopia_Eritria, Somalia, Bosnia_Serbia and even Kashmir are, in one way or another, related to the selfish policies followed by the colonialists. Unfortunately, those chapters are not yet closed. Colonialism is very much alive - having morphed into "Globalization". I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to better understand the legacy of the Raj and the global impacts of colonial rule. A worthy addition to the books on these subjects.
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on 19 February 2017
Most Indians today think of the British as those who modernized India. Read this book and the view will change.
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on 6 September 2017
‘An Era of Darkness’ is a must read for all history students in India and Britain and definitely an enlightening read for all others. Excellent arguments by Shashi Tharoor, supported by statistics and quotes from documented sources make the case against British Raj very convincing and attractive. He argues effectively that the so called benefits of British rule in India were not actually meant for benefitting India but were simply instruments for colonial appropriation of the wealth of India. Reading this book makes one realise how incomplete our history lessons were in schools and colleges.

Educational and enjoyable at the same time. A useful suggestion to readers - keep a dictionary handy as it may add to the joy of reading, even if you call English your ‘mother tongue’.
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on 31 October 2017
4.5 rating

I can’t seem to recall the exact quote by John Oliver which went something along the line that most, if not all, international problems of the world today can be traced back to a the last 100 years with A few white men in a room with a map and drawing lines. Believe me I spent almost a day searching for it. Haven’t found it yet but I am sure it’s there. I digress.

The reason for the publishing of this book is quite a well known fact. Shashi Tharoor (former diplomat, current politician and a Member of Parliament) made an impassioned speech at the Oxford University during a debate on British colonisation of India back in 2015. There, he highlighted the degradations of Indian society at the hands of the British, and their long-lasting after effects (hint: they’re not good). Once the video got online and took a viral life of its own, earning praise from most of the Indians, irrespective of their own political stance. People came forward to support him and asked him to write a book on the subject.

This book is a detailed version of that talk. It starts with the comparison of Indian economy’s percentage in the world to that of British and other European nations. From there, it moves through the 200 year rule the British maintained in the subcontinent, first the company and then the Crown rule.

The rule wasn’t benign or even mostly harmless (as some people choose to describe). It was out and out exploitation of resources, both human as well as material. All the ‘gifts’ the empire imparted to the subcontinent, including education, the English language, railways, parliamentary system of government, and even cricket, were incidental and not an objective. This can clearly be seen by comparing the statistics the country had right after the independence and the current numbers.

Although the book covers quite extensively covers all the major events in the struggle, some points are misrepresented or simplified for the sake of the narrative (I’m not sure if it was intentional or just glossed over to fir the author’s political stance). For example, Jinnah’s retreat to London and his change of attitude towards secularism is attributed to Gandhi’s fame whereas it was a little more complex. Also, there seems to be no mention of backstabbing by INC (Indian National Congress) when they chose not to honour the agreement the party had with the Muslim League post election. Furthermore, it is mentioned that Tagore gave up his Knighthood and Gandhi his title Kaiser-i-Hind to protest the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre, when the reality is that they gave up their titles because the British, instead of punishing the perpetrator General Dyer, chose to honour him. This little change in the reason of giving up the title and protesting help in understanding that they weren’t irrational in their protests, but gave a chance to the other party to accept their fault. On a side note, the release year of the movie Lagaan is erroneously mentioned as 2003 instead of 2001, but that’s just nitpicking.

The book treads some slippery slopes and becomes quite self-aware when it comes to discuss the author’s own command over English language and his fondness for a sport the empire gave to the country, cricket. But somehow, it manages to not sound hypocritical and still be engaging and informative.

Apart from all the seriousness of the book and the subject, it somehow manages to squeeze in a few moments where you would chuckle, or at the very least put a smile on the face. A simple line like “Nadir Shah stole it fair and square” does it. Also, when talking about a certain Mr. Nirad C Chaudhuri, the author choosing the most eloquent of words manages to say something on lines of “the ill-informed scholar had his nose up the colonial ass”.

If I had my way, I’d recommend this as a compulsory read in all the schools of India, in whatever language possible. It not only gives an objective outlook of the 200 history during the British Empire, but also a subjective point of view to comprehend the scale. Although, that somehow becomes slightly biased however hard the author tries to maintain to not be so. However, the writing and the language are again top notch. Definitely worth a read
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on 5 December 2017
its quite rare to find books which are the perfect reads and this is one of them,each page just compels you to read the next ten pages.with Tharoor's Excellency in narration its a must read for one who seeks to know about the past of his nation.The deliver was quick great job Amazon.
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on 10 September 2017
Awsome book on English Era in India, Extract more point and very useful.
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on 13 November 2017
Good book
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on 15 December 2017
Sashi Tharoor has brilliantly elucidated the loot and the deceit indulged in by the British. He has successfully carried the conviction with the readers with irrefutable facts and impeccable presentation. Overall, the book is simply brilliant and is a must read. The lone sore spot is that the packaging of the product (book) is very poor and it came crumpled at its edges. In fact, rating have to be 4 stars, but keeping in mind the value of the content of the book I am giving it 5 stars. I have bought a number of books on Amazon but shabby packaging, though price is very reasonable and the quality is good, has forced a rethink on ordering some more books. Sincerely hope that the product comes in good shape when I order my next book.
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