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1857: the people's double-edged sword

The book analyses the causes of the revolt and also documents the interest shown by the media and other countries.

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:17 IST

Rebellion 1857
Editor: EC. Joshi
Publisher: National Book Trust
Price: Rs 100

If 1857 fatigue is already beginning to hit you, ward it off a little longer. Rebellion 1857, while light on the pocket, is invaluable for the reason that it takes us down a less trodden path into the battlefields. The country took an important turn with the revolt, not just because of the eruption of the anti-British sentiment, but also because the people started to speak up openly about the sense of betrayal they felt on the part of their feudal lords.

The Communist leader, Joshi, while compiling a brilliant scholarly work, has himself contributed an essay on the folk songs of 1857, perhaps the only existing documentation of the voice of the common man of that period.

Some capture the people's deep sense of humiliation and anguish at the feeble manner in which Wajid Ali Shah succumbed in 1856 to the British annexation of Oudh - where the strongest military resistance to the British took place the following year.

Others speak of the valour of the heroes of 1857, from Rani Laxmi Bai to the 75-year-old Kunwar Singh, arousing the people's passions, while still others berate heads of princely states who supported the British in suppressing the rebellion.

Besides analysing the causes of the revolt and its impact on Indian national literature, this volume also documents the avid interest shown by the media and people of other countries, chiefly Britain, Russia, France and China, to this mass uprising against the British Empire. An excellent read.