Top critical review
2.0 out of 5 starsCan't say it's unbiased history reporting, colorful reading though.
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 2 November 2022
The choice of words and recurring underlying current of bumbling incompetent natives simply capitulating to a superior white man's prowess betray an almost sympathetic pen to the horrors of the parasitic Brit devasatation of the prosperous land called 16th century India. Makes passing references to the state of economic affairs in Britain (~3% world's GDP, mostly agrarian) as compared to India (25%, manufacturing dominant) in 1599 when the Brit emissary Thomas Roe came around here, it should have been more forcefully laid out how the predators brought about the remarkable reversal of the situation with unbridled avarice and revolting habits of business, but alas that aspect is lost for a more acceptable version where not too much blame is apportioned to the Imperialists for reasons best known to the author. The serpentine obliqueness of in-fashion european morals with which the red faced hat wearers went about usurping territory after territory, and the local moneylenders who aided/abetted them is only mentioned just enough, whereas instances of literary macropsia liberally pepper the book about the incidents that catch the author's fancy, such as Shah Alam's travails, supposed love for India of one Warren Hastings (which somehow didn't prevent his company bahadur from posting a profit even as Bengalis lay strewn in lakhs starving across his office in Kolkata's streets dying of hunger in 1769-70 famine). The repetitive inferences to selected "historians" of the era who eminently betray a obsequious and toning down tendency of the Brits' repugnant actions in favour of the dominant power (eg one Ghulam Hussain Khan's Seir Mutaqherin) is plain disingenuous, sir. It's a rather arrogant and not so clever Abrahamic point of view of looking at things if I may use the description, of insisting on measuring & describing things of other civilizations with one's preconceived metrics without being cognizant of/ acknowledging their unsuitability for such purposes, to give an example, Chatrapati Shivaji maharaj is translated as "lord of the umbrella"...a chattra can only be caricaturized as an umbrella by a jaundiced eye. This book isn't the place to learn history as it happened, but a good place to learn how to make palatable interpretation of it, appealing to a vaster audience than what it would if the bitter truth was told sans dressing up.