A sparkling, provocative history of the English in South Asia during Queen Victoria's reignBetween 1837 and 1901, less than 100,000 Britons at any one time managed an empire of 300 million people spread over the vast area that now includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma. How was this possible, and what were these people like? The British administration in India tooA sparkling, provocative history of the English in South Asia during Queen Victoria's reignBetween 1837 and 1901, less than 100,000 Britons at any one time managed an empire of 300 million people spread over the vast area that now includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma. How was this possible, and what were these people like? The British administration in India took pride in its efficiency and broad-mindedness, its devotion to duty and its sense of imperial grandeur, but it has become fashionable to deprecate it for its arrogance and ignorance. In this balanced, witty, and multi-faceted history, David Gilmour goes far to explain the paradoxes of the "Anglo-Indians," showing us what they hoped to achieve and what sort of society they thought they were helping to build. "The Ruling Caste" principally concerns the officers of the legendary India Civil Service--each of whom to perform as magistrate, settlement officer, sanitation inspector, public-health officer, and more for the million or so people in his charge. Gilmour extends his study to every level of the administration and to the officers' women and children, so often ignored in previous works. "" "The Ruling Caste" is the best book yet on the real trials and triumphs of an imperial ruling class; on the dangerous temptations that an empire's power encourages; on relations between governor and governed, between European and Asian. No one interested in politics and social history can afford to miss this book....
|Title||:||The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj|
|Number of Pages||:||375 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj Reviews
There still seems to be an enduring fascination with Britain's colonial history, a certain glamour and exoticism that survives despite the criticism and disapproval of the reasons for being there in the first place. This book fully exposes how little glamour and exoticism there actually was in the service of the Raj, how hard and gruelling the life of an Indian Civil Service officer (known as Civilians to distinguish them from the Army) could be, how lonely and isolating. Some men thrived, others sickened or went mad; some rose to the challenge, others were disorganised, inefficient and incompetent. Some were never promoted to the level they believed they deserved; others went all the way up to Viceroy.David Gilmour's book follows the life of an ICS Civilian from recruitment to pension, charting the rise and fall of trends and empire-building, ranging from holidays at hill stations like Sinda and Ooty, to the 'frontiers' of the North-West Provinces, Burma and Aghanistan. It looks at the kind of men attracted to the ICS, how they were chosen, what their postings involved, the different roles and stations, their leisure time and personal lives. I could have done with more of a focus on the lives of their families, particularly the women - it must have been an incredibly lonely life for a new wife or mother. But the focus in this is very much on the men, not their dependants.You wouldn't have thought a book about a civil service, even the Indian Civil Service, could be so interesting, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Gilmour takes a very balanced approach, at no point approving of Britain's colonial past, but by the same token not condemning the men of the time by today's standards. The majority of the men in the ICS felt they were doing their very best for the people of India; some even went on to support independence. It would be unfair to dismiss all their motives as racist and self-serving, despite the inherent paternalistic oppression in the very nature of colonialism.
This book was a long slog for me, but the subject was significant for. I did learn all about what the Indian Civil Service actually did, (the organization the British men in India during the Raj worked in.) More than I needed to know, but now I can go on with my reading with more understanding. Next for me is "The Raj Quartet" by Paul Scott.
Interesting subject but not always very clear.
Cartoonish images of civil-servants pervade the literature of British imperialism almost to the same degree as that cheerfully pompous figure of British military blundering, “Colonel Blimp.” David Gilmour, a writer who often finds himself earnestly battling the caricatures of Imperial history, turns his attention in The Ruling Caste towards the restitution of the reputation of the Indian Civil Service (ICS). Grounded heavily on the experience of Sir Alfred Lyall as an exemplar of the life of an ICS man, this nicely compact volume briefly examines almost every possible angle on the life of a Civil Service Officer from their first recruitment and training to their eventual retirement and the activities of their twilight years. While Glimour focuses on the Victorian period of British Rule, his prose picks up the salient points from the earlier periods of Hastings and Clive all the way up to Independence. Along the way, he makes an effort to correct popular impressions with the objective of demonstrating that the ICS “represented the British Empire at its best and at its most altruistic.” Structured thematically and ordered loosely across the experience of a hypothetical lifetime, Gilmour renders the individual civilian’s experience in categorical chapters: District Officers, Campers, Magistrates and Judges, Black Sheep, Players, Husbands and Lovers, Pensioners. Motivated by an evident sense of delight in the particularities of how the British Empire was organized and how it ruled, Glimour’s work at times reads like a guidebook and occasionally even a brochure for the Indian Civil Service, dwelling on such mundane details as the purchasing of appropriate clothing by first-year “Griffins.” While informed by careful and interesting research, The Ruling Caste touches too briefly on any one topic to elicit meaningful insight and ranges too broadly to capture attention. Perhaps David Glimour imbibed the famous guidance of Henry Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of Oudh, too well: “Settle the country, make the people happy, and take care there are no rows!”
meh. was alright, but kinda dry i thought. Ended up skipping through most of it, although definitely had some interesting stuff, and was well enough written, i just don't think i had enough interest invested to read it all the way through.
Great book; well written, organized, and engaging. The writer has a great sense of humor.However, I would highly recommend anyone looking to read this book have a least a couple books on the history of the British Raj under their belt, otherwise you'll be pretty lost.
Informative and detailed on how the I.C.S. worked although i would have liked to have more detail on the day to day life of Expats and how they coped. Incorruptible and the fact that most of them actually liked India and the people, made for interesting lives.
A good representative of what it is. After a slow start I quite enjoyed descriptions of life, work and play in the Indian Civil Service.