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The Black Hole of Calcutta by Noel Barber
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The Black Hole of Calcutta

by Noel Barber

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I added titles from the defunct Common Reader catalog to my to-read list ages ago and finally thought to request them from the library. Not usually sympathetic to colonizers, I was not overly interested in the incident, and the book didn't inspire either or in the first few pages. With grotesque voyeurism, I flipped to the chapter, 3/4 of the way through, on the 14-hour horror itself. What I hadn't known that was worth learning was that the situation allowed the British to justify to themselves their stranglehold on India for the next nearly two centuries.
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
Barber's historical look into the 1756 Siege of Calcutta by Siraj-ud-Daula is chilling and fascinating all at once. His descriptions of the people involved in the struggle on their last day in the prison reaches a level that few historians can accomplish. Even though the first edition of this text was written 40 years ago, it still shows virtuosity and panache. Anyone interested in colonial history should read this. ( )
  NielsenGW | Jun 1, 2009 |
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Since 1600 the English East India Company traded with the Indian sub-continent and tried to avoid becoming involved in internal Indian politics. However, one event was crucial in converting English influential opinion to an interventionist policy - the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta, when on the night of June 21, 1756, 123 English prisoners suffocated to death on the orders of Siraj-ud-Daula, Nawab (ruler) of Bengal. Thenceforth England regarded Indian rulers as savages like Siraj, and considered that they were unfit to govern India. From this it was but a short step to the establishment of partial and eventually complete English political control over the areas in which the English Company traded. But what is the truth of the Black Hole? Did 123 die? Did Siraj-ud-Daula deliberately order their deaths, or indeed did the Black Hole happen at all?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0750933895, Paperback)

Since 1600 the English East India Company traded with the Indian sub-continent and tried to avoid becoming involved in internal Indian politics

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:16 -0400)

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