Our Bones Are Scattered

Andrew Ward, Author
Andrew Ward, Author Henry Holt & Company $30 (736p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2437-1
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Making the most of his meticulous research, Ward, a novelist and essayist, has written an unhurried--the more impatient might say relentless--and lavishly detailed account of an unorganized and bloody revolt that swept through northern India in the summer of 1857 and of the even bloodier reprisals the British took against the rebels. And against Indians in general. The result is a vivid history of a chain of massacres and counter-massacres that might, at first glance, seem of little interest to an American audience. Writing chiefly--although not always sympathetically--from the European point of view, Ward succeeds by building on the well-documented lives of specific people: British officers, their wives (some of whom were Indian), local princes, Eurasian clerks, American missionaries, British reformers, Hindu and Muslim servants (the mutiny made allies of these customary enemies). Ward, who writes in the lively, near-journalistic tradition of such nonacademic American historians as Barbara Tuchman, William L. Shirer and his own brother, Geoffrey Ward, doesn't moralize or editorialize. In less skillful or less selective hands, this deluge of minutiae might have created a forest-for-the-trees problem, but here the facts speak tellingly and forcefully for themselves. Illustrated. (Apr.)
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