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The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 12. Juni 2007

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"Engaging . . . Gilmour's judicious study contains vivid individual histories, some amusing and many poignant, that allows us to see real people beyond the caricature of starched pukka sahibs dressing nightly for dinner in remote up-country bungalows.'"—A.J. Sherman, The New York Times Book Review
"The Ruling Caste paints an arresting and richly detailed portrait of how the British ruled 19th-century India. . . [This book] is the most thorough study imaginable of the careers of the 'Civilians,' from recruitment to retirement. . . . Gilmour is a serious historian. He writes accessibly and even wittily, with a wealth of anecdotage and an eye for the telling story."—Shashi Tharoor, The Washington Post Book World
"This book is a wonderful example of how a historian can bring to life the atmosphere and culture of the past by describing in rich detail the motivations and calculations of those who set the tone of a world that once was."—Foreign Affairs
The Ruling Caste is a joy to read, and probably the best-written and most thoroughly researched social history of the Victorian British in India.”—William Dalrymple, The New York Review of Books
“A stylish and engaging writer.”—William Grimes, The New York Times 
The Ruling Caste is a most rewarding read. It is authoritative, based on over 150 manuscripts and 500 books and articles, many of them primary sources. It is also entertaining; full of anecdotes, vignettes and eye-opening facts.”—Hugh Purcell, History Today
“Gilmour richly recovers the workaday aspects of an imperial career, from finding a wife to managing servants to seeking distractions in lonely postings.”—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"Gilmour very successfully elucidates this period in history. Highly recommended."—Joel W. Tscherne, formerly with Cleveland Public Library, Library Journal
"You don't have to go very far into David Gilmour's absorbing study of the civilian branch of the 19th century British Raj before you get a sense of the kind of writer you're dealing with. You know this isn't going to be one of those books as dry and dusty as its setting, the plains of India . . . Mr. Gilmour brings a lot of knowledge and understanding of Victorian India to this latest project."—Martin Rubin, The Washington Times
"Wide-ranging study of the handful of British civil servants who ruled the 300 million people of 19th-century South Asia, and who left 'their impress as Rome did hers on Western Europe.'  ... A solid complement to other recent work on British India."—Kirkus Reviews
"Gilmour's deftly organized, encyclopedic account of the day-to-day existence of the members of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) upends the view of the British rulers as tyrannical, racist philistines.... A firm understanding of the British mindset and playful characterizations of its idiosyncrasies provide entertainment and insight . . . the breadth and care of the scholarship merit esteem."—Publishers Weekly


Acclaimed historian David Gilmour gives us a compelling account of the public and private lives of the Britons who ruled colonial India. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 17 Rezensionen
23 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"Caste" of Thousands 1. Mai 2006
Von Thossy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
My book club chose to read Gilmour's "The Ruling Caste" and we all struggled to get through it. It's a fact-filled and interesting--but not entirely readable--work that has the unmistakable stamp of thorough scholarship which must be appreciated. Because he carefully tends to the minutiae of workaday life for a Victorian-era man in the Indian Civil Service, the book gives up both gravitas and sweep.

Some luminaries of the times, like Rudyard Kipling and Lord Curzon, appear (Gilmour has written biographies of those two.) but most of the names are unknowns who kept journals or whose letters were turned over to the British archives by descendants.

These people were true Imperialists, spending their entire careers abroad and coming home to retire into obscurity: "Here were men who had governed millions of people...Yet no one in Britain seemed to care who they were or what they had been doing."

The reader may ask, "Shouldn't I be reading something more important?" Well, maybe so, but consider this: the British stamp upon India was so pervasive that, to this day, it informs the attitudes and ethics of millions of English-speaking, West-oriented Indians, from the call center clerk in Bangalore who helped you resolve that software problem last week to the cardiologist down the street in Anytown, USA.
22 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An admirable account of the Civil Servants of the Raj 22. September 2006
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
"The Ruling Caste" by David Gilmour gives an excellent and evocative account of how British civilian officials lived their lives in the Raj (ie not the military, business people or missionaries). He covers how they were trained, their working routines, how they found wives, entertainment, sports and much else.

Many books on the history of British India focus on the big picture and the comings and goings of the senior officials in the Government and Military. Gilmour's book describes how the majority of officials lived and worked at the grassroots level of villages and districts: what exactly they did each day, how a magistrate did his job and so on.

Kipling's stories describe many of the same types of people, but of course they are fictionalised accounts which may be overly sympathetic or exaggerated in other ways. However, contemporaries in India frequently commented on their generally accurate portrayals.

Colonialism is often criticised because of our understandable repugnance of one country imposing its rule over the population of another. In principle this is fair, but criticism by historians is often taken to the extreme of refusing to accept that anything good ever came out of colonialism. This is especially unfair to the British, who did not behave with the rapacity and cruelty of other colonial powers of the day.

Gilmour's book and others like it redress the balance somewhat by describing lives of duty, sacrifice and affection for the people they ruled. Others became internationally respected for their work as historians, linguists and protectors of Indian cultural heritage. Another paid for the construction of a canal out of his own pocket - one of many similar, if less spectacular, examples of personal largesse.

Reading this book one cannot escape the feeling that there was a certain nobility and decency about the work of many officials of the Indian Civil Service, especially those working in Districts where they were in intimate contact with villagers.

District Officers were mostly young men in their twenties in charge of a District of up to a million people, with perhaps only a few other British officials - or even none at all. The opportunities for corruption, oppression or debauchery are obvious, but by and large these young men were incorruptible and behaved with great honour.

These decent lives deserve to be better known and Gilmour's book does them justice. Today, mere "celebrity" is often applauded as heroism and talent, so it is good to read about true heroes and genuinely talented people who did not court publicity but just went about their unsung work in India, often for a lifetime.

Of course they were not all hard-working saints and Gilmour gives sufficient examples to make this clear. India had its share of "bad bargains", eccentrics and mavericks and Gilmour describes their exploits with sympathy and dry humour. Some of these tales are gems.

Readers interested in how the Raj was run and the people who ran it will love this book.

I also recommend it as an antidote to contemporary celebrity worship, so we may compare the enduring, worthwhile qualities of the best of those who served the Raj, with the ephemeral appeal of many celebrities, whose fleeting reputations depend on media attention to create and sustain them.
11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
interesting, well-researched, but tedious 2. September 2006
Von lector avidus - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
David Gilmour has written an extremely well-researched history of the Indian Civil Service, that is of the British civil servants who administered India, the crown jewel of the British Empire, which then encompassed India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Anyone who has any doubts that it was not, on the whole, extremely capable and incorruptible, and, all in all, a huge force for the good will not harbor them at the end of the book.

This book is written in a sort of dry, plodding and scholarly style that makes it a dream come true for anyone who needs to write a paper or otherwise consult Gilmour's research for their own work. But the same matter-of-factness and lack of narrative mean that only very few will enjoy reading this book for pleasure.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Interesting perspectives on the Raj 2. Januar 2007
Von Graham - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This is an account of the Indian Civil Service under the Raj. It provides a mixture of structural analysis and anecdotal accounts of specific individuals. The author makes a good case that the Civilians in the service were hard working and genuinely interested in providing a good and just administration. They were notably incorruptible. They served as a tiny, isolated elite in a vast sub-continent.

The seeds of their fall were always present. They wanted to help India and to raise an educated forward-looking Indian middle class. But how could that class, raised to respect justice and democracy, not ultimately reject its mentors?

The book is occasionally slow, but generally moves along well and carries it weight.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Interesting read on ICS officers 26. Januar 2007
Von S. Kumar - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I found this book fascinating but as noted in one of the editorials it lacks a central theme that makes the book disconnected - more a collection of different events. It is fascinating to get into the daily lives of ICS officers of those days and draw a parallel with today's IAS/IPS officers of India (not much has changed!). I, myself, being grown up in that kind of environment, probably makes me a little biased towards this book.
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