The definitive history on the Amritsar shooting – Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre

When General Dyer died, the great imperialist poet Rudyard Kipling sent a wreath with these words ” He did his duty as he saw it.” { page 247}.

The Amritsar shooting of 13 April 1919 is a notorious incident in the history of the British Raj. Yet many of its facts are shrouded in myths and inaccurate.

This 325 page book published in 2019 on the centenary of the shooting is a highly readable and thorough account of the events prior to the shooting, the shooting itself and the events thereafter. Wagner’s command of the sources is impressive. He has combed newspapers reports, memoirs, diaries and court testimonies to come out with the definitive history of the Amritsar incident. He has also usefully set out a social history of Amritsar and the disturbances that broke out in Amritsar prior to the shooting. Without this context, one can’t fully understand Dyer’s extreme reaction.

I highly recommend this book. For another perspective on General Dyer, I recommend The Butcher of Amritsar by Nigel Collett, 2006 ed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *