Rebels Against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom

Knopf. Feb. 2022. 496p. ISBN 9781101874837. $35. HIST
Told through the lives of seven emigrants from the West who devoted themselves to India, the book offers a novel perspective of India’s fight for independence, from early in British rule through holding post-independence rulers to account. Each was drawn to India for various reasons, with some becoming disillusioned with their initial path and instead forging ties with local communities. All had various levels of contact and involvement with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, and often overlapped or had fleeting encounters with each other. While Gandhi plays a large role in each of their lives, the narrative is driven by the individuals’ lives and actions. Guha (India After Gandhi) profiles how these immigrants moved to India and adapted to local ways of life, language, and religion. They also accepted consequences (prison terms; deportation; professional ruin) for advocating change they believed in. It will be helpful for context and geography if readers of Guha’s book have some background knowledge of India and its struggle for independence, though isn’t necessary.
VERDICT For those looking for a new perspective on India’s fight for independence and beyond, and what drives people to devote their life and freedom to a cause not their own.
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