PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThere are minor flaws in this irresistible firecracker of a book. It was Madame Defarge, not Madame Lafarge, who sat by the guillotine, and Churchill, not Lloyd George, who decided to send the Black and Tans into Ireland. Nor was Enoch Powell opposed to the welfare state ... But O’Toole’s most luckless misstep has been his premature exultation in the failure of Boris Johnson to become prime minister. He wrote in the British edition of the book, published in November last year and appearing again in this American edition, that Johnson \'could not actually make himself leader of a country that had just effectively voted for him,\' since he came from \'a decadent and dilettante political elite.\' Well, as it turned out, in the end he could. The joke had gone so far that it overwhelmed all the sobersides who couldn’t see the joke. Marx was right about that at least: When history repeats itself, tragedy pops up again as farce.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... rampaging, brilliant, passionate ... Mr. Dalrymple gives us every sword-slash, every scam, every groan and battle cry...The Anarchy is not simply a gripping tale of bloodshed and deceit, of unimaginable opulence and intolerable starvation. It is shot through with an unappeasable moral passion ... Mr. Dalrymple’s narrative does not carry on much beyond the brutal victories of the Wellesley brothers in the Maratha Wars at the beginning of the 1800s. He is surely right in seeing this as the crucial period. But the later eclipse and extinction of the company would make a no less thrilling sequel.
PositiveThe London Review of BooksThe story of the massacre has been told many times, but rarely with such narrative vigour and moral passion as by Kim Wagner in this centenary account ... Wagner’s central purpose is to demonstrate that brutality was the driving principle of the Raj. There was, he says, nothing exceptional about Dyer and nothing extraordinary about what he did at Amritsar. The bigger fish he has his sights on here is Churchill and the subtle and effective speech by which he helped the government home in the furious debate of 8 July 1920 ... All the same, I think Wagner is too ready to dismiss Churchill’s argument about the exceptionalism of Amritsar ... Wagner really only manages to make his thesis stand up by failing to pay much attention to Dyer himself. For Amritsar was unique in its horror, in the innocence of the victims and the number of them, and in the dead-eyed callousness of the perpetrator. To put it as simply as I can: no Dyer, no massacre.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948 will not be bettered, and it is essential reading even for those who do not think of themselves as India buffs ... Mr. Guha is the first biographer to have had access to Gandhi’s voluminous personal papers, which had been jealously guarded by two of his closest companions, Dr. Sushila Nayar and her brother. Now Mr. Guha can show us in brimming measure how Gandhi became a one-man advice bureau to the world ... Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World does overflow—but this is, I think, necessary to show how Gandhi’s influence spread far beyond India and beyond his prime mission of securing his country’s independence from Britain.\
RaveThe London Review of Books\"The effect is like one of those sweeping Klimt portraits, in which the comet trail of colourful fragments leaves a lasting, wistful impression of an era on the skids. The book is extremely funny and extremely sad ... At the end of the book, only the hardest heart would repress a twitch of sympathy. To live on the receiving end of so much gush and so much abuse, to be simultaneously spoilt rotten and hopelessly infantilised, how well would any of us stand up to it?\
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn SPQR, her wonderful concise history, Mary Beard unpacks the secrets of the city’s success with a crisp and merciless clarity that I have not seen equaled anywhere else.