Churchill's Secret War
The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War IIBook - 2010
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.
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.
A historian of India now living in Germany, Mukerjee recounts how the British Prime Minister and his advisers chose to channel the resources of the British colony to wage war against Germany and Japan, how that decision caused a famine in the eastern Indian province of Bengal that killed between 1.5 and 3 million people, and how it led to the postwar campaign for independence and the subsequent partitioning of the subcontinent. Among other matters, she describes how the beginning of British rule in India as well as its end was occasion for a devastating famine in Bengal. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"Winston Churchill's dislike of India and Indians has been known to scholars. But now, in Churchill's Secret War, we have, for the first time, definitive evidence of how a great man's prejudices contributed to one of the most deadly famines in modern history. In her book, Madhusree Mukerjee writes evocatively of how hunger and rebellion in rural Bengal was a product of cynicism and callousness in imperial London. Deeply researched and skillfully constructed, this is a major contribution to Indian history and to the history of the Second World War."-Ramachandra Guha, author of India After Gandhi
"An epic indictment of British policies that cold-bloodedly caused the death of millions of ordinary Indians during the Second World War. With impeccable research, Mukerjee debunks the conventional hagiography of Churchill, showing 'the last imperialist's' monstrous indifference to the peoples of the sub-continent."-Mike Davis, Professor of Creative Writing at University of California, Riverside
"Churchill's Secret War is a major work of historical scholarship, which reveals that one of the twentieth century's greatest heroes was also one of its greatest villains. Mukerjee's elegant, precise prose and meticulous research make her tale of colonial brutality all the more gripping and horrific."-John Horgan, Director, Center for Science Writings, Stevens Institute of Technology
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 mismanagementùfacilitated by dubious advice from scientist and eugenicist Lord Cherwellùdevastated India and set the stage for the massive bloodletting that accompanied independence.
Investigates Winston Churchill's decision to stockpile wheat in Europe during World War II rather than send it to India to relieve a harsh famine that lead to three million preventable deaths.