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An Era of Darkness

The British Empire in India
Written by: Shashi Tharoor
Narrated by: Sagar Arya
Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
Categories: History, Asia
4.5 out of 5 stars (64 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In 1930, the American historian and philosopher Will Durant wrote that Britain s conscious and deliberate bleeding of India... [was the] greatest crime in all history . He was not the only one to denounce the rapacity and cruelty of British rule, and his assessment was not exaggerated. Almost 35 million Indians died because of acts of commission and omission by the British in famines, epidemics, communal riots and wholesale slaughter like the reprisal killings after the 1857 War of Independence and the Amritsar massacre of 1919. Besides the deaths of Indians, British rule impoverished India in a manner that beggars belief. When the East India Company took control of the country, in the chaos that ensued after the collapse of the Mughal empire, India's share of world GDP was 23 per cent. When the British left it was just above 3 per cent.

The British empire in India began with the East India Company, incorporated in 1600, by royal charter of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I, to trade in silk, spices and other profitable Indian commodities. Within a century and a half, the Company had become a power to reckon with in India. In 1757, under the command of Robert Clive, Company forces defeated the ruling Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula of Bengal at Plassey, through a combination of superior artillery and even more superior chicanery. A few years later, the young and weakened Mughal emperor, Shah Alam II, was browbeaten into issuing an edict that replaced his own revenue officials with the Company s representatives. Over the next several decades, the East India Company, backed by the British government, extended its control over most of India, ruling with a combination of extortion, double-dealing, and outright corruption backed by violence and superior force. This state of affairs continued until 1857, when large numbers of the Company s Indian soldiers spearheaded the first major rebellion against colonial rule. After the rebels were defeated, the British Crown took over power and ruled the country ostensibly more benignly until 1947, when India won independence.

In this explosive book, best-selling author Shashi Tharoor reveals with acuity, impeccable research, and trademark wit, just how disastrous British rule was for India. Besides examining the many ways in which the colonizers exploited India, he demolishes the arguments of Western and Indian apologists for Empire on the supposed benefits of British rule, including democracy and political freedom, the rule of law, and the railways. The few unarguable benefits of the English language, tea, and cricket were never actually intended for the benefit of the colonized but introduced to serve the interests of the colonizers.

Brilliantly narrated and passionately argued, An Era of Darkness will serve to correct many misconceptions about one of the most contested periods of Indian history.

©2016 Shashi Tharoor (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly researched and described

The first two chapters start out with a lot of statistics and data which can be repetitive. The fourth chapter onwards become much more interesting. The book could have been condensed a bit but it was definitely worth the listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Dark history

I felt like I have been cheated by my government by hiding the atrocities of the imperial English rule. Its such a shame that we as Indians are not even made aware about the clinical process adopted by the East India company / British government to decimate and discard our traditions and values. Even to this day, our education system is following the slavery model..

I feel, this book should be considered as a text book for Class VIII and above by retaining the sections where the author refers to the British rule alone... all references to the post Independence rule should be removed since they appear to be biased

I also don't appreciate the author when he points out a particular Indian Government when he refers to Hindus.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant piece on British Raj

Mr. Tharoor very logically demolishes all the western claims of imparting democracy, railways, industries, technology during the darkest era of Indian history "The British Raj". In reality India was just an instrument to fulfill Britain's and EIC's rapacity at the expense of millions of lives as they religiously destroyed existing customs, technology, kingdoms and left us with a crack that never seems to be healing for a foreseeable future.

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Must Must Read Book

Excellent Book. If you love and Curious of knowing history, you would surely love this book. A very deep insight of British rule in India.

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Era of Darkness

I liked the overall theme but sometimes found it a little repetitive. Intonations could have been better.

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Brilliant Read

one of the best books on british colonialism in India. Tharoor builds a comprehensive case

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A must read book for every Indian

Loved it, this books put light on the cruelty, racism and destruction of Indian economy done by British in India.

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Informative, opinionated and we'll researched

Informative, opinionated, statistical, at times biased, at times rantings ... Yet a good resource to know in detail about Indian colonial past and why things happened they way they did under British rule. A bit one sided, therefore to be read with an open mind and knowing that the author is also a politician :).

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An must to read

Beautifully written, narrated and put up. This book uncovers bitter truth of emperialism, colonialism and colonisation

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A must read book

This book is simply amazing, and beautifully written. Covered almost all the aspects of British Colonialism in India.

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  • Nihal Fernandes
  • 27-05-17

This book does not work

There is a technical problem with this purchase. Have raised the issue to audible. Do not waste your money on it till it gets fixed.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful