Books of the Year: David Gilmour’s THE BRITISH IN INDIA


David Gilmour’s The British in India has been much-picked in many end of year round ups, take a look below for all the quotes to date:


‘In his magisterial The British in India, David Gilmour draws on more than 30 years of research in the archives. Here he presents an astonishing harvest from diaries, memoirs, letters and official documents of the period, many previously unused. Prostitutes and punkah wallahs, pig-stickers, pagoda-hunters and viceregal palaces – all British colonial life in India is here presented in elegant prose: 350 years of battles and dusbars, maharajahs’ balls, tiger shoots and Simla shenanigans distilled in 600 pages of telling anecdotes and witty vignettes.’

William Dalrymple, Spectator

‘Empire as unmitigated arrogance and exploitation is too simple an answer for David Gilmour in The British in India. The depth of his research uncovers nuance and complexity among colonial lives in the subcontinent and a startling degree of osmosis between the imperial cohort and the cultures it dominated.’

Jonathan Keates, Times Literary Supplement

‘David Gilmour’s The British in India is a work of scholarship that is also a delight to read. The subject – the men and women who, for 300 years, abandoned Britain in favour of India – is, in itself, a guarantee of excitement and intrigue, but Gilmour writes about each character – fortune hunter missionary or public servant with a vivid familiarity. Readers who look for vindication of the Raj or a condemnation of imperialism will be disappointed. What Gilmour offers is the story of extraordinary lives inspired, I suspect, by the same fascination that moved so many Britons to make India their home.’

Roy Hattersley, New Statesman

‘Imperialism in all its forms continues to provoke lively debate. This year David Gilmour has made a major contribution to that discussion with his magisterial The British in India. In this superb book he examines the motivations of British residents of India during the Raj. He looks at what they did, where they lived and how they died. What particularly strikes one is how few they were in number, and how remarkable it was that they governed so vast an area for so long. It is a fascinating story, explored with rigorous scholarship and intensely readable.’

Alexander McCall Smith, New Statesman


‘Taking in everything from shopping to hunting and holidays, Gilmour’s exploration of two centuries of British life in India teems with colour. Massively researched and drolly observed, his book is tremendous feat of scholarship, but at its heart are the stories of individuals: explorers, civil servants, soldiers and missionaries, all described with wit and sympathy.’

Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times