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Amritsar 1919 Reviews

Amritsar 1919 by Kim Wagner

Amritsar 1919

An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre

Kim Wagner

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 12 Feb 2019
ISBN: 9780300200355

A powerful reassessment of a seminal moment in the history of India and the British Empire--the Amritsar Massacre--to mark its 100th anniversary

3 stars out of 5
Andrew Lycett
11 Feb 2019

"skilfully maps a tale of growing tensions, precipitate action, and troubled aftermath"

One must recall that Wagner teaches imperial history – a highly politicised area of intellectual enquiry where there’s little sympathy for Britain’s colonial exploits. He harps on about "racialised" violence, spaces and logic in ways not always helpful... Wagner’s text would have been improved by more colour. He mentions Dyer was born in India, but not that his Irish family ran the Murree brewery. He records that Gerard Wathen returned to England to run the Hall school, but not that this was in London where it continues to this day as a successful preparatory school. Such slight observations might have lifted a thorough and readable academic exercise into something more universal.


4 stars out of 5
Tunku Varadarajan
2 Feb 2019

"The story of a horrific colonial massacre is vividly told"

In less skilled hands this spare-no-detail approach might well have suffocated readers, but the book is written with a humane commitment to the truth that will impress. Wagner seeks to establish what happened on the day of the massacre and why, dedicating entire chapters to each of the preceding three days. Wagner’s explanations are dispassionate and he adds that “to explain is not to justify”. He says that his book will appeal neither to Raj nostalgists, nor to Indian nationalist mythologists.