The East India Co. had been busy in the mid-18th century establishing a commercial field in Bengal, India. Its security rested on a wretchedly complicated system of graft and intrigue and the native princes were inclined to get restless. In spite of this, the local Company director, an inefficient weakling, allowed his forts to fall into disrepair. When the Nabob Siraj-Uddaula marched against Calcutta with fanatic soldiers, massed elephants and arms supplied by the French, the first engagements were fought off by a handful of intrepid British soldiers. Mr. Barber handles the details of the battles and all that led up to the crisis with great skill. The 145 men and one woman who remained in the main fort after the last battle were shoved into a small room by the Nabob's order. He had not realized the size of the room and when they were released in the morning, 22 men and 1 woman were still alive. Mr. Barber rejects the idea that this story has been used to rationalize British colonialism in India -- the mootest of points. Aside from that, the book makes terrific reading.