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Lunch » Tags » Untagged » John F. Riddick - THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A CHRONOLOGY » User review

British presence in India from 1599 creation of East India Company to independence of India and Pakistan in 1947

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THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A VALUABLE BUT HARD TO USE BOOK

  • Sep 18, 2012
Rating:
+4
In 2006 appeared THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A CHRONOLOGY by John F. Riddick, Professor Emeritus of Central Michigan University. Riddick says that he authored this CHRONOLOGY from annoyance atfter finding so many unreliable dates in sources that he had researched about India. To test the author's own accuracy with dates I have looked carefully only at Riddick's coverage of Anglo-Indian journalist and 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936). I regret to note that in his two passages covering Kipling (Ch. 11, "Cultural Developments" and Part III: "Biographies of Notable Anglo-Indians"), Professor Riddick has the poet and novelist dying in 1937 -- a full year after the real death.

In his Index John F. Riddick does not mention either journalism or the two leading newspapers that Rudyard Kipling (age 16 - 23) helped edit 1882 - 1889: The Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore and the Pioneer of Allahabad. Nor does he anywhere mention very prominent Anglo-Indians associated with those journals: I think of George Allen (the Pioneer, Allahabad), Howard Hensman (the Pioneer's man at Simla, a man close to the powerful armed forces Commander-in-chief).

Lockwood and Alice Kipling, Rudyard's parents also wrote for the Pioneer). Also associated in Anglo-Indian journalism were William Rattigan, James Walker and Stephen Wheeler. Professor Riddick alludes perhaps to some of the contributions of Rudyard Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling, as journalist and published expert on Indian history, religions, animals and people. In Chapter 11, "I850 - 1890. Indian Arts and Crafts" by contrast, Lockwood Kipling is given deserved credit for preserving and improving some of India's dying native crafts in stone and wood.

There are only a couple of other major negatives for me in THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A CHRONOLOGY.

-- (1) There are no maps.

-- (2) There are no stated criteria for inclusion or exclusion of the 400 Anglo-Indians (white Europeans) chosen for brief biographic notices in alphabetical order (Part III).

-- (3) While some chapters have paragraph length initial overviews, for the most part, history is presented in  barely connected brief ad hoc narratives, often, thank heaven, under unifying sub-headings such as in Chapter 11: "1825 - 1835. "Architectural Developments in Bombay"; 1857 - 1858. "Indian Mutiny and the Novel;" and "1910 - 1955. "British Fiction and the Eurasian." Under the latter is mentioned "John Masters in BHOWANI JUNCTION (1954)."

Otherwise, for scholars and for general readers who already have a moderatey copious knowledge of India under British influence and rule, THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A CHRONOLOGY is a somewhat jumbled Ali Baba's treasure cave of meticulously researched data. The book has 14 chapters. The first seven are headed "Part I: Chronology of Political History." Chapters eight through 14 constitute "Part II: Chronology of Topics." Part  Three is "Biographies of Notable Anglo-Indians." Almost every page in THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A CHRONOLOGY is divided into two columns. Print is on the small side.

The author remains true to his stated purpose in the Introduction: "The focus of the work is on the British and the role of the Indian is only supplementary." Native Indians are there to do battle with British, French, Portuguese, Swedes, Dutch, Danes and others. But the natives lost and the British did less than justice to their indigenous cultures and languages. Nonetheless debates raged back in England and Scotland with Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists be vigorously championed in some quarters.

I rate this book 3.6 stars, rounding up to 4.0 stars.

-OOO-
THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A VALUABLE BUT HARD TO USE BOOK THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A VALUABLE BUT HARD TO USE BOOK THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA: A VALUABLE BUT HARD TO USE BOOK

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About the reviewer
(Thomas) Patrick Killough ()
Ranked #94
I am a retired American diplomat. Married for 47 years. My wife Mary (PhD in German and Linguistics) and I have two sons, six grandsons and two granddaughters. Our home is Highland Farms Retirement Community … more
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