Monday, September 6, 2010

Revisionism at its best

The book sheds new light on one of Indian history's most important events: the 1857 rebellion.

Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus;
Parag Tope, Rupa, Rs. 595
It has often been argued by the early post-independence generation that the Anglo-Indian War of 1857 was the precursor of the nationalist movement, though many Western historians regard it as scattered revolts by peasant landowners with no sense of solidarity against a common enemy. On the other hand, the Marxist historian sees it as a class war against the landlords and the colonial state. Whatever the school of thought may be, the Indian Rebellion was certainly, in the words of C.A. Bayly, Professor of History at Cambridge, “the First War of Independence that some scholars of the 1950s incautiously proclaimed.”

It is not easy to come to grips with the peaceful exit of the British when one considers the horrors, the fanaticism, the rage that is so visible in the bloodiest drama of colonial history: the siege and massacre of the European garrison stationed at Kanpur during the great rebellion of 1857. This resulted in a heartless massacre of thousands of Indians who were either hanged or tied to guns and blown to smithereens. Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus gives a brilliant account of this historic event, emphasising the true significance of this war as well as a sustained interest in the dramatic battle manoeuvres of Tantya Tope who is the ancestor of the family that has, with sustained interest in the 1857 insurrection, skilfully put together a work of historical significance.

No comments:

Post a Comment