Our Bones Are Scattered: The Cawnpore Massacres and the Indian Mutiny of 1857

Overview

Rich in character and vivid detail, this first full-scale history of one of the central dramas of imperialism echoes in the mind like a great nineteenth-century novel. Our Bones Are Scattered recounts the bloodiest acts of one of the bloodiest rebellions in history - the siege and massacre of the European garrison at Cawnpore, India, and the terrible retribution that followed. Set in the doomed world of the British East India Company's domain, this riveting saga of folly, bravery, faith, and rage extends to the ...
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Overview

Rich in character and vivid detail, this first full-scale history of one of the central dramas of imperialism echoes in the mind like a great nineteenth-century novel. Our Bones Are Scattered recounts the bloodiest acts of one of the bloodiest rebellions in history - the siege and massacre of the European garrison at Cawnpore, India, and the terrible retribution that followed. Set in the doomed world of the British East India Company's domain, this riveting saga of folly, bravery, faith, and rage extends to the furthest reaches of human cruelty and strength. Among the extraordinary characters: Nana Sahib, the Mahratta prince whose extravagant hospitality won him the trust and friendship of the very Europeans who would be slaughtered in his name; the maimed and aging warhorse, Major General Sir Hugh Wheeler, who disastrously staked the lives of his Eurasian wife and children on his dream of commanding the Company's army; the brilliant Azimullah Khan, whose struggle from famine waif to Nana Sahib's emissary to London cultivated a genocidal loathing of the British; Jonah Shepherd, the pious Eurasian clerk who escaped the Entrenchment and survived as a prisoner of the rebels; the Mahratta brigadier Tatya Tope, whose resourceful courage as a guerrilla nearly compensated for his complicity in the Cawnpore massacres; Lieutenant Mowbray Thomson, who escaped the siege of one entrenchment only to withstand the siege of another; four American missionary families whose harrowing exodus down the Ganges would end in their destruction; Brigadier General James Neill, whose martial audacity was subsumed by an atrocious appetite for vengeance; and the beautiful Amy Horne, who was spared her life only to become a trooper's concubine. With a historian's authority and a novelist's empathy, Andrew Ward draws on unpublished letters and documents, years of research, and repeated trips to India and Great Britain to bring this monumental epic to life.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An engrossing read. Andrew Ward's definitive history of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 is a feat of historical archaeology of unrivalled depth and breadth. "-David Levering Lewis

"Andrew Ward has written a grand and terrible epic of violence and retribution that as harrowing as it is irresistibly readable. "-Richard Snow, editor of American Heritage

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Roland Green
The sheer massiveness of this book apparently about a virtual jot in time may daunt many prospective readers. It should not. For although Ward focuses on the 1857 slaughter of the British community at Cawnpore--the critical turning point in ending the hegemony of the East India Company in British India--his work is in fact a comprehensive history of the events of a most crucial year. Ward has thoroughly used just about every conceivable resource, and he is forthright about the self-serving quality of many of the primary ones. Better, he has written his synthesis of them so well that long as the result may be, it is seldom heavy going. Cawnpore was a grisly affair that reflects little credit on most of those involved in it, especially its instigator, the Nana Sahib. This account of it, however, reflects great credit on Ward; he has created the ideal companion to Hibberts' "Great Mutiny" (1978) and a new touchstone for studies of British India.
Kirkus Reviews
A skillful retelling of a celebrated Victorian military engagement: the rebel siege of the north Indian city of Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

When Indian soldiers rose up and slaughtered their own officers, the British public was stunned at their treachery. Astonishment turned to horror as rebels killed European civilians and Indian Christians who had taken refuge in North Indian cities. The slaughter of European women and children led to a far more brutal and indiscriminate British retaliation. Readers in Victorian England had an insatiable appetite for harrowing tales of the mutiny, and European survivors of these events published dozens of histories and memoirs. Journalist Ward follows them closely in his story of the shocking events at Cawnpore, where European soldiers were massacred after being guaranteed safe passage by the local ruler, Nana Sahib, and his treacherous adviser, Azimullah. After harsh imprisonment, the surviving women and children were hacked to pieces and their bodies stuffed into a well. Enraged at the discovery of what had been done, and inflamed by false accusations of rape, British soldiers forced defeated Indian rebels to lick up the blood of European victims, then executed thousands of them. Some were strapped to cannons and blown to bits. For decades after the mutiny, any publication presenting the Indian point of view was banned by the British ruler of India. Ward (whose 1985 novel, Blood Seed, dealt with the aftermath of the mutiny) recognizes the British bias of his sources and tries to read between the lines in search of an Indian point of view. But it is perhaps inevitable that the passion of his book comes from its European sources.

Ward's gripping account of heroism and cruelty falls short in its attempt to be fair to Indian as well as British victims.

From Barnes & Noble
No historic event captures the revolting cycle of butchery and vengeance more vividly than the the bloody siege and massacre of the European garrison at Cawnpore, India, and the shocking retribution that ensued.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805024371
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/1996
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 736
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 2.10 (d)

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