Inglorious Empire: what the British did to India  1 by Shashi Tharoor


Tells the real story of the British in India  from the arrival of the East India Company to the end of the Raj - and reveals how Britain's rise was built upon its plunder of India.

In the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. Beyond conquest and deception, the Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation.

British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes on and demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial 'gift' - from the railways to the rule of law - was designed in Britain's interests alone.

He goes on to show how Britain's Industrial Revolution was founded on India's deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry.

In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain's stained Indian legacy.


‘Rare indeed is it to come across history that is so readable and so persuasive.’AMITAV GHOSH

‘Brilliant … A searing indictment of the Raj and its impact on India. … Required reading for all Anglophiles in former British colonies, and needs to be a textbook in Britain.’ SALIL TRIPATHI, CHAIR OF THE WRITERS IN PRISON COMMITTEE, PEN INTERNATIONAL, AND AUTHOR OF THE COLONEL WHO WOULD NOT REPENT

‘Tharoor convincingly demolishes some of the more persistent myths about Britain’s supposedly civilising mission in India … [he] charts the destruction of pre-colonial systems of government by the British and their ubiquitous ledgers and rule books … The statistics are worth repeating.’ VICTOR MALLET, FINANCIAL TIMES

‘Tharoor’s impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires. Forceful, persuasive and blunt, he demolishes Raj nostalgia, laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read.’ NILANJANA ROY, FINANCIAL TIMES

‘Those Brits who speak confidently about how Britain’s “historical and cultural ties” to India will make it easy to strike a great new trade deal should read Mr Tharoor’s book. It would help them to see the world through the eyes of the … countries once colonised or defeated by Britain.’ GIDEON RACHMAN, FINANCIAL TIMES

‘Remarkable … The book is savagely critical of 200 years of the British in India. It makes very uncomfortable reading for Brits.’ MATT RIDLEY, THE TIMES

‘Eloquent … a well-written riposte to those texts that celebrate empire as a supposed “force for good”.’ BBC WORLD HISTORIES ‘Tharoor’s book — arising from a contentious Oxford Union debate in 2015 where he proposed the motion “Britain owes reparations to her former colonies” — should keep the home fires burning, so to speak, both in India and in Britain … He makes a persuasive case, with telling examples.’ HISTORY TODAY

‘Erudite,well-written, thoroughly documented and persuasive history that focuses varied sources into a coherent critique of colonialism in the Indian context. Tear up your copies of Ferguson’s neo-liberal mind rot and get angry like Tharoor.’ CHRISTOPHER KREMMER, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor served for twenty-nine years at the UN, culminating as Under-Secretary General.

He is a Congress MP in India, the author of fourteen previous books and has won numerous literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Tharoor has a PhD from the Fletcher School and was named by the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1998 as a Global Leader of Tomorrow.

British & Irish history
Paperback / softback
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Scribe Publications
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