PLAIN TALES FROM THE RAJ: Images of British India in the Twentieth Century by Charles--Ed. Allen

PLAIN TALES FROM THE RAJ: Images of British India in the Twentieth Century

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The British in India filled the vacancy left by the preceding set of interlopers, the Mughals. While they had their own interests and convictions, they were as much made by the country as its shapers. They found this process--renewed in every generation--an enthralling one, as this pastiche of verbal history shows. In 1974 some fifty in-depth interviews were conducted with survivors of the British raj for a BBC program. Arranged topically (children, household, the Frontier, the day's work, the order of precedence), the book is the easiest possible reading--the uninhibited, unapologetic recollections of a time when everything had a heightened interest and importance. Editor Allen does not attempt to discriminate; the police officer who gave anyone shouting ""Mahatma Gandhi"" six of the best (he left India in '27) stands alongside the man who joined the Indian Civil Service in 1928 because he found the prospect of a transfer of power exciting. A nostalgic book about a group who, from the despised British soldier to the viceroy's court, felt themselves neglected by England and on guard in India. Offsetting much that is tawdry (and not always recognized here as such), are those perilous, golden childhoods or the touring district officer required by longstanding convention to talk at leisure with any of the thousands who might wish it.

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 1976
Publisher: St. Martin's