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Imperial Connections. India in the Indian Ocean Arena

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Imperial Connections. India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860-1920. By Thomas R. Metcalf. (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2007. Pg. xv, 264. Illustrations, Maps.) ISBN 13: 978-0-520-24946-2.

Reviewed by Herbert White - June 5, 2007

What was the real role that India of the Raj within the sphere of British Colonial interests and expansionist policies? Was India just a colonized country, or was she herself a colonizer at the same time? How did Indian immigration play into both Indian and British imperial machinations? In his innovative new book, Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860-1920, Thomas R. Metcalf, Professor History Emeritus at the University of California in Berkeley, tackles these and other intriguing questions. His analysis of these questions, and his answers to them serves as a stimulating discussion on the role played by trans-imperialism relationship between India and the British Empire, and the vital role that India played in advancing the British Empire's colonial reach into East Asia and Africa.

Within the scope of this detailed book, Metcalf touches upon the role played by the Indian Army in both Indian and British affairs, the employment of Indians (espeically Sikhs) by the British, and the legal and administrative codes used in India. He also takes a detailed look at the virtual Indian colonies that were established in such locations as Uganda, South Africa, and Natal. Throughout this book, Metcalf contends that India was both a colonized nation, and a colonizer in its own right. Backed by ample evidence, Metcalf ably proves this supposition within the pages of Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860-1920.

In all, this book provides a unique overview of Indian history and the colonial ambitions carried out by the Indians, both at behest of the British, and by the Raj (the Indian government), in such far flung regions as South Africa, Iraq, and Malaya. This book is essential reading for anyone interest in British Imperial History and Indian Colonial History, and it will serve as an excellent supplemental text in both undergraduate and graduate level history courses.


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