Of John Brown and Mangal Pandey
Sabyasachi Bhattacharya
A TALE OF TWO REVOLTS: INDIA 1857 AND THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR by Rajmohan Gandhi Penguin Books, 2010, 402 pp., 599
August 2010, volume 34, No 8

This book begins with an engaging dedication to the memory of Ramu Gandhi (1937–2007). Ramu was seen at the India Interna-tional Centre day in and day out, a part of the scene, a friend to most members of the club and to the author of this review. I am happy to be able to record my tribute to him.

What is, as they say in film-land, the ‘story line’ in this book? Rajmohan Gandhi’s aim is to connect two historic events, the uprising of 1857 in India and the Civil War in the USA in 1860–64. Beginning with the question, what leading Indians and north Americans knew and thought of these events, the accomplished author leads us to an interesting attempt to ‘compare and connect’ these events in the last chapter.

Those who have read the author’s Mohandas, may find that he has less ambitious an agenda in the present work, but his skill in weaving a narrative makes it a highly readable account of nineteenth century men and opinions in England, India and the United States. 

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