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Summary

No era is more pertinent to understanding how present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh evolved than the nearly 200 years of British rule. This colonial period was a time of deep change and transformation - for India and for the world. These 24 engrossing lectures offer you new perspectives on the history of European imperialism, on world economic history, on the features of British colonialism, and on the rich cultures of the Indian subcontinent.

Over the course of this remarkable saga you'll explore:

  • How the English East India Company, a commercial trading entity, established a presence in India and took the reins of power in one of the strangest political transformations in world history
  • How the monumental Mughal Empire, builders of the Taj Mahal and longstanding Muslim rulers in India, gradually came apart in the face of British conquest
  • How Britain extended its rule across the subcontinent, built a huge economic machine in India, and ultimately exacted a heavy price from the Indian people
  • How India finally achieved independence in 1947, through one of humanity's most noteworthy examples of resourceful and philosophically sophisticated leadership

You'll trace the economic motives that brought the British and other Westerners to India, like how the emergence of the English as a stereotypically tea-drinking society was directly related to the Indian colonial economy. You will also take stock of the incredibly lavish lifestyles of India's maharajahs and how the British leveraged alliances with them. And you'll grasp the fundamental moral contradiction of the Raj, the conflict between Britain's economic interests and the human needs of the empire's Indian subjects, and more. In A History of British India, you'll relive a crucial era in international relations, one with deep and lasting implications for our contemporary world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Great Courses (P)2017 The Teaching Company, LLC

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent. Well balanced and informative.

good overview of a complex phase of history. deals with the nuances of colonialism well

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • NP
  • 02-10-18

Captured the freedom struggle well!

The voice over was good and the key dates and incidents have been communicated well.

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    2 out of 5 stars

interesting history, but Hayden be less smug

I have listened to all 12 hours of this audio book. It's an interesting period of history, and I imagine that Hayden B has covered all the major points - the East India company, the mutiny, the raj, Gandhi & the emergence of Congress, Jinnah, partition.

But his manner grates: history is a matter of facts, and it is possible for a history to sit there in judgement of those facts, knowing that they can sound wise after the event. Take partition - it's fine to say it had bad direct results. But what alternatives where there? Hayden himself admits that what Jinnah wanted and what Gandhi and Nehru wanted were not compatible. It's fine to say that neither side wanted partition, but the problem of Indian nationalism is that in giving power to the people, minority communities such as Muslims feared a tyranny of the majority. Gandi's movement opened a can of worms. There is no easy answer! So just tell us what happened.

More broadly, Hayden seems to think he can sneer at anything done by the British. But why? Was it a bad thing to build railways or to stop Sati? Of course not. Does he demonstrate that British India was clearly worse than Mughal India or post 1947 India? Not really. They are just different periods. For large sections of the course Hayden seems to be railing against modernisation and the Industrial Revolution. Though he does so exclusively from the point of view of an Indian nationalist, when in fact artisans in the UK also lost their jobs. Factory work isn't as much fun as making your own cloth, but that's the price of modernity. Hayden B doesn't need to give us his sneering opinion, just tell us what happened! We can make our own minds up.

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New insights

I really enjoyed listening to this lecture series. I have learnt many new things. It has great breath but I wish it had slightly more depth. I felt many of the lectures ended suddenly without exploring the topic further with more depth with more stories and examples.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-06-17

High school level

This is a fascinating period dominated by larger than life personalities, but this course doesn't do it justice and the prof functions at a high school level. He would do better to highlight specific personalities in each lesson and give more details. General statistics and overviews are important for context but the story needs to be fleshed out. Continual use of "remember', "think about it", rhetorical questions punctuated by a puerile "you got it" is annoying and patronizing. No profiles of individual maharajas, only a few eccentricities mentioned. Only major characters and incidents well known to anyone who knows even a little of Indian history are discussed. He gets animated with Gandhi and the National Congress. But this course either needs to be reworked for adults, both style and content, or recategorized as introductory. He hints numerous times that something is a subject for "another course". Oh my.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • PETER
  • 11-02-17

Good history - Annoying narration

Very interesting for a newbie to this important and interesting history of the region. I found the narrator a bit annoying, especially, about 100 times throughout the course his asking a question and then saying "you got it" like a half second after the question. About half way through I found myself shouting back at him #you got it" before he even said it, which most of the time he did. I'm surprised no one caught that, or that he wasn't annoyed at himself.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sheetal J.
  • 06-05-17

every Indian and Pakistanis should read it

Great insight of India history during British time, definitely lot to learn from history .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • mark
  • 14-03-17

learned a lot about British India

a lot of surprising information about British India including the starvation of 3 million during World War II and the death of another three million during the division of India and Pakistan

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-03-17

Extremely Interesting

If you could sum up A History of British India in three words, what would they be?

Interesting, Engaging, Fascinating

What did you like best about this story?

Indian history is so vast and rich that it is very difficult to tell. Looking at the history of British India gives the course a nice starting point for people (like me) who don't know Indian history in depth. It gave me an accessible introduction to the subject and I definitely want more.

Have you listened to any of Professor Hayden J. Bellenoit’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't but I greatly hope that the teaching company releases new courses from Professor Bellenoit. I would definitely enjoy a history of India before the British or post-colonial history of India or Pakistan.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The course was too long for me to do it in one sitting. However it was a great listen for my commute to and from work for a couple weeks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Señor Fuschnickens
  • 16-02-18

Inaccurate, out of date, poor pronunciation

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The professor needs to read scholarship on caste and any scholarship that has been inspired by Orientalism--any mainstream scholarship from the past 40 years would do. It would also help if he learned an Indian language and learned how to pronounce terms with at least reasonable accuracy.

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  • Daniel X. Junker
  • 30-01-18

Now I Understand

A few weeks ago, someone asked “how did Britain take over India? “. Years ago I saw a Bollywood movie where the British were cast as bad guys. I had always heard that Britain had left a Legacy of ‘good institutions’ in India. Now I understand how all of these fit together.

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  • KEITH
  • 29-07-17

Economic History of India under England

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I would have heard more about the kinds of English that would travel across the world to work and serve in India. Dr. Bellenoit argues well that England did not do much good to India. This can probably be said of any imperial power who ruled native people. I wanted more of the English and not as much of the economic turmoil they caused to India.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It appears that the creation of Pakistan was a bit of an accident that even the leading Muslims did not especially want nor expect.

Did A History of British India inspire you to do anything?

Earlier reviews were correct; this is very Pro Indian. If you wanted to understand the social history of the English, Indian or Muslim people (what was the day in the life of people at a certain time like), this is not the series for you.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • ok
  • 30-04-17

Didn't know the British committed Genocide

Didn't learn this in school [Canada]
Using force and violence to collect money from India and suppress Indian industry.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • J. David Green
  • 19-07-17

Biased account

Professor Bellenoit castigates the British, mostly without citing any evidence. I am surprised this passes for scholarship.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful