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Churchill's Secret War: The British…
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Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India… (edition 2011)

by Madhusree Mukerjee (Author)

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Member:ssbaldwin
Title:Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II
Authors:Madhusree Mukerjee (Author)
Info:Basic Books (2011), Edition: First Trade Paper Edition, 368 pages
Collections:Citations for Essay Collection
Rating:*****
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Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II by Madhusree Mukerjee

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
An exceptional insight into the colonial thinking and hatred of the British, specially Churchill's, hatred of India. The author has proved the complicity of Churchill and company's complicity in perpetuating the worst famine in Indias history. Ironically, the post war world remembers him as a war hero whereas he should have been tried as a war criminal and executed for his war crimes. ( )
  Vipinpesce | May 5, 2019 |
An erudite and carefully researched account of 1943's Bengal famine, a tragedy that killed millions yet is often forgotten or unheard of in the west. Beyond reporting on the atrocity itself, author Madhusree Mukerjee exposes its causes: intentional acts by Winston Churchill's War Cabinet that routed food stores around the starving continent to be shipped to Europe, only to sit unused until the end of the war.

This book, beautifully sourced and footnoted, must have taken years of deep research. It telescopes between the bureaucratic ineptitudes of the British War Office and often-horrific personal accounts of individual Bengali citizens. More historical and cultural context would have helped novice readers (like me) who may have needed more background to fully appreciate the collapse of the social order. Churchill (and more so, his horrifically racist advisor Lord Cherwell) seemed to be playing a shell game in response to the famine, and it would've been lovely for Mukerjee to help guide us as readers where to focus our eyes.

Highly recommended read.

( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
An erudite and carefully researched account of 1943's Bengal famine, a tragedy that killed millions yet is often forgotten or unheard of in the west. Beyond reporting on the atrocity itself, author Madhusree Mukerjee exposes its causes: intentional acts by Winston Churchill's War Cabinet that routed food stores around the starving continent to be shipped to Europe, only to sit unused until the end of the war.

This book, beautifully sourced and footnoted, must have taken years of deep research. It telescopes between the bureaucratic ineptitudes of the British War Office and often-horrific personal accounts of individual Bengali citizens. More historical and cultural context would have helped novice readers (like me) who may have needed more background to fully appreciate the collapse of the social order. Churchill (and more so, his horrifically racist advisor Lord Cherwell) seemed to be playing a shell game in response to the famine, and it would've been lovely for Mukerjee to help guide us as readers where to focus our eyes.

Highly recommended read.

( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
Excellent reference on Churchill's deliberate starvation of India during World War II.
  chaitkin | Apr 17, 2017 |
I rarely give books a one star rating. But I did in this case for these reasons: 1) The book itself rambles back and forth in time and you have to pay very close attention to try to figure out where and when things are happening and how to fit them in the broader context of events. 2) The author complains (rightly so) of how terrible things done to native Indians were often not given much attention or taken seriously by the British Empire and then excuses the black hole of Calcutta and other terrible things as inconsequential. 3) The title is a bit of a trick as the main and central character is India and famine therein and while Churchill's actions during WWII in relation to India are reviewed and criticized the view presented is very one sided. Churchill's time in India is given only a very cursory review which really must be a terrible mistake if you are trying to understand his relationship with India. Based on this book I have very little understanding of what Churchill's time living in India was like, this despite the fact that he wrote about his time and his own writings are very much available. 4) It's isn't until you near the end of the book the author starts talking about Lord Cherwell influence on Churchill and how he felt about India and the negative impact this had on Churchill's decisions. It suddenly throws a different light on Churchill's decisions that the author has been lambasted up to that point and you are left wondering how much to blame Churchill and how much to blame Lord Cherwell? 5) The decisions to use shipping to send things to other parts of the world (including food) instead of sending them to India is raised on several occasions. However, I didn't always feel the full effects of the decisions were reviewed in this book as the author mainly focused on the damage to India. What did the shipping in the Pacific do instead when it was not used to send food to India? I have no idea really and apparently I am just supposed to mourn with the author over the negative effects on India (which I do) but I have no way to know how the war in the Pacific could have been different if other decisions had been made.

The author's bottom line, the British Empire drained the economy of India to benefit their own and this was taken to a new level during WWII which created famine condition in parts of India where perhaps over a million people perished. Their poor stewardship was selfish, racist, resulted in the split creating Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Bengal (the main focus in India of the author is in Bengal), and we should all resent the British for their atrocities.

The best part of the book, though unpleasant to read, is the personal stories of many people she included who survived the famine and how they survived.

( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465002013, Hardcover)

A dogged enemy of Hitler, resolute ally of the Americans, and inspiring leader through World War II, Winston Churchill is venerated as one of the truly great statesmen of the last century. But while he has been widely extolled for his achievements, parts of Churchill’s record have gone woefully unexamined.
 
As journalist Madhusree Mukerjee reveals, at the same time that Churchill brilliantly opposed the barbarism of the Nazis, he governed India with a fierce resolve to crush its freedom movement and a profound contempt for native lives. A series of Churchill’s decisions between 1940 and 1944 directly and inevitably led to the deaths of some three million Indians. The streets of eastern Indian cities were lined with corpses, yet instead of sending emergency food shipments Churchill used the wheat and ships at his disposal to build stockpiles for feeding postwar Britain and Europe.

Combining meticulous research with a vivid narrative, and riveting accounts of personality and policy clashes within and without the British War Cabinet, Churchill’s Secret War places this oft-overlooked tragedy into the larger context of World War II, India’s fight for freedom, and Churchill’s enduring legacy. Winston Churchill may have found victory in Europe, but, as this groundbreaking historical investigation reveals, his mismanagement—facilitated by dubious advice from scientist and eugenicist Lord Cherwell—devastated India and set the stage for the massive bloodletting that accompanied independence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:38 -0400)

Examines Winston Churchill's efforts to defeat the freedom movement in India during World War II, comparing his actions in Europe to the decisions he made between 1940 and 1944, which resulted in the deaths of more than three million men, women, and children in India.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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