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Books

Britain didn’t fight the second world war — the British empire did

Yasmin Khan’s superlative The Raj at War finally does justice to the crucial contribution of the Indian army to Hitler’s defeat, says William Dalrymple

25 July 2015

9:00 AM

25 July 2015

9:00 AM

The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War Yasmin Khan

The Bodley Head, pp.416, £25, ISBN: 9781847921208

In 1929, when Edwin Lutyens handed over the newly completed building site of New Delhi to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, many believed he had created a capital for a British empire in India that would last if not 1,000, then at least 100 years. It was, as Lord Stamfordham wrote, ‘a symbol of the might and permanence of the British empire’ that had been commissioned specifically so that ‘the Indian will see for the first time the power of western civilisation’.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £20 Tel: 08430 600033. William Dalrymple has lived part-time in India since 1989. His books include Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India and The Age of Kali.

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