Not great – Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India

I expected more from this book. There were 3 clear errors in the Introduction which unfortunately slipped through:

1. On page 4 there was a statement that the Lieutenant Governor Michael O’Dwyer issued the infamous `crawling orders of Amritsar’. This is incorrect. The order was issued by Brigadier-General REH Dyer. (see page 50 of The Hunter Committee’s Report on The Amritsar Massacre,1919- General Dyer in the Punjab © The Stationery Office 2000)

2. On page 5 commenting on Gandhi’s rationale for his famous “salt march” it was stated that millions of India’s poorest peasants required salt to survive India’s intense heat. Salt is a basic necessity of life, but it is not required to survive intense heat. (see page 61 INDIRA-The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Frank ©2001)

3. On page 14 there was a statement that the British ships Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk by Japanese suicide and torpedo bombers. The Japanese only introduced the kamikaze suicide planes in Oct 1944 in the battle for the Philippines. (see page 776 A World at Arms by Gerhard Weinberg 1994 ed.) The book is more of a narrative than analysis. Facts are presented mainly based on the British records compiled in The Transfer of Power volumes. It is unfortunate such facts and opinions were not tested against the records of the Indian nationalists. I finished this book with the knowledge of the author’s case for the culpability of Lord Mountbatten for the Partition and the numerous deaths that followed but with my thirst for a fuller picture insatiate.

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