Books about India

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Books - India

The First Anglo-Sikh War 1845-46 – the betrayal of the Khalsa, David Smith. Looks at a conflict in which the large Sikh army was so poorly led that it became clear that some of the Sikh leaders had betrayed their army, allowing the British to turn a potential defeat into a clear but costly victory. Provides a good background to the war, looks at the conflicts within Sikh society and then good accounts of fiercely fought battles themselves, in which an uninspired British commander was handed victory by the even worse performance of the Sikh leadership (Read Full Review)
Wellington and the British Army’s Indian Campaigns 1798-1805, Martin R. Howard. Looks at the wider context to Wellington’s time in India, covering most of the military campaigns that took place while he was present, not just those in which he was involved. A little weak on the Indian side of the fighting, but otherwise good, and provides some useful context to Wellington’s famous victories of this period(Read Full Review)
Defending India: The Foreign Policy of Governor-General Lord Minto, 1807-1813, Amita Das and Aditya Das. Focuses on the period between 1807 and 1813, which began with the British worried about a possible French invasion of India via Persia, and ended with the conquests of Mauritius and Java, largely eliminating European threats to the British position in India. Also looks at how the perceived external threat from the French influenced Lord Minto's policy towards the other Indian powers and Persia [read full review]
Bright Eyes of Danger - An Account of the Anglo-Sikh Wars 1845-1849, Bill Whitburn. Traces the development of the Sikh Empire under Ranjit Singh, his careful relationship with the British, the chaos that followed his death and the two wars that followed. Treats the two sides as equally valid, so we get a picture of the wars as they may have appeared at the time. Makes it clear that the first war in particular was a very close thing, with the British close to defeat on several occasions, only to be saved by the failure of Ranjit Singh's successors [read full review]
Naval Resistance to Britain's Growing Power in India 1660-1800 - The Saffron Banner and the Tiger of Mysore, Philip MacDougall. Looks at the clashes between British naval power and the fleets of the Marathas and Mysore, in the period when the East Indies Company went from being a trading company to a major political power in India. The author really knows his material, and as a result we get a very detailed picture of various Indian fleets, their ships, organisation and leadership and the reasons they failed to overcome the British. [read full review]
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The Twilight of the East India Company - The Evolution of Anglo-Asian Commerce and Politics 1790-1860, Anthony Webster . A look at the declining years of the East India Company, where it lost first its monopoly of the Indian trade and then the China trade and its commercial activities to become almost a branch of the British Government in India. Also looks at the Company's rivals and how well they performed in India. [read full review]
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The Emergence of British Power in India 1600-1784 - A Grand Strategic Interpretation, G.J. Bryant. Focuses on the last forty years in which the British East India Company controlled its own diplomatic activity in India - the period in which the company's holdings expanded from a series of small trading enclaves into a sizable land empire. A splendid history of this pivotal period for the British in India, combining a good account of events with a detailed study of the motives that drove the Company and its servants. [read full review]
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Afghan Wars

Retreat and Retribution in Afghanistan 1842 - Two Journals of the First Afghan War, Margaret Kekewich. An account of the First Afghan War, based on two diaries produced during the war, one by Lady Florentia Sale, the wife of a British officer caught up in the disaster at Kabul, the second by the Reverend Isaac Allen, a clergyman who accompanied the army of retribution that rescued the prisoners taken during the retreat from Kabul. [read full review]
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