Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II

Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II

by Madhusree Mukerjee

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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 mismanagement—facilitated by dubious advice from scientist and eugenicist Lord Cherwell—devastated India and set the stage for the massive bloodletting that accompanied independence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465022601
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 08/10/2010
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 858,198
File size: 946 KB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Madhusree Mukerjee won a Guggenheim fellowship to write her previous book, The Land of Naked People. She has served on the board of editors of Scientific American. She lives near Frankfurt, Germany.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Our Title to India ix

Maps xxxii

Chapter 1 Empire at War 1

Chapter 2 Harvesting the Colonies 31

Chapter 3 Scorched 57

Chapter 4 At Any Price 81

Chapter 5 Death of a Thousand Cuts 103

Chapter 6 An Occupied and Starving Country 131

Chapter 7 In the Village 151

Chapter 8 On the Street 169

Chapter 9 Run Rabbit Run 191

Chapter 10 Life After Death 219

Chapter 11 Split and Quit 239

Chapter 12 The Reckoning 265

Acknowledgments 281

Bibliography 283

Notes 295

Index 321

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Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Bengal Famine of 1770, actually ranged from 1769 - 1773.  10 million Bengalis died during this famine.  The territory at he time was ruled by the British 'East India Company', which was a front company for the British Royal family and the establishment.
willyvan More than 1 year ago
Robert Clive had called Bengal 'the paradise of the earth'. In 1757 Clive's forces conquered India. By 1770, there was a famine in which 3 million people died. This brilliant book examines the 1943 famine in Bengal which killed 3.3 million people. British rule over India started and ended with a famine in Bengal. Churchill did not mention the 1943 famine in his six volumes on the Second World War. He loved the Empire, but hated the peoples it ruled. As he wrote, "I therefore adopted quite early in life a system of believing whatever I wanted to believe ." Churchill's private secretary John Colville reported that Churchill said, "the Hindus were a foul race" and wished that the head of Bomber Command would 'send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them'. Mukerjee observes, "During his 1930s campaign against Indian self-government, Churchill went so far as to warn of famine engulfing the United Kingdom if, 'guided by counsels of madness and cowardice disguised as false benevolence, you troop home from India.' He feared that a full third of the English population would perish if the empire was lost." In 1942 British forces arrested 90,000 Indians and killed an estimated 10,000. On 10 September 1942 Churchill broadcast the lie that the Indian National Congress had been helped by 'Japanese fifth-column work'. In fact, as Churchill well knew, MI6 had been unable to find any evidence linking the Congress with the Japanese. Viceroy Linlithgow told Bengal's elected Chief Minister Fazlul Huq in January 1943 that he "simply must produce some more rice out of Bengal for Ceylon even if Bengal itself went short!" Mukerjee sums up, "Whereas India annually imported at least a million tons of rice and wheat before the war, it exported a net 360,000 tons during the fiscal year April 1, 1942, to March 31, 1943. . On April 22, 1943, more than a month after it had been warned of famine, the Ministry of War Transport recorded with approval 'continued pressure being brought to bear upon India to persuade her to release more than the previously agreed quotas of rice and, more recently, cargoes of wheat.' Between January and July of 1943, even as famine set in, India exported 71,000 tons of rice ." Throughout the famine, the British government rejected all international offers of aid. Significantly, there have been no famines in India, even with a growing population, since she won her independence.
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Great feature Free Preview, only problem, when you spend your time to open it the publisher has denied access to every written page. Wouldn't take it now if they gave it to me.