Railways and The Raj: How the Age of Steam Transformed India

Author(s): Christian Wolmar

World History

India was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, with vast riches to be exploited and vast numbers of people to be subjugated. How better to achieve these aims than by building a rail network that facilitated the export of raw material and made it easier for troops to travel around the country to tackle uprisings? India joined the railway age late: the first line was not completed until 1853 but, by 1929, 41,000 miles of track served the country. This was not intended to modernize India for the sake of its people but rather was a means for the colonial power to govern the huge country under its control. The railways radically changed the nation but also unwittingly created the preconditions of independence. Their construction ultimately contributed to a stirring of nationalist opinion, as resentment grew among the Indian population over the conditions they endured when traveling by train and the barring of Indians from the better paid railway jobs. Despite the dubious intentions behind the construction of the network, the Indian people quickly took to the railways, as the trains allowed them to travel easily for the first time. The Indian Railways network remains one of the largest in the world, serving more than 25 million passengers each day. In this expertly told history, Christian Wolmar reveals the full story of India's railways, from its very beginnings to the present day, and examines the checkered role they have played in Indian history and the creation of today's modern state.


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Christian Wolmar masterfully chronicles the iconic journey of the Indian Railways, deftly navigating his way through the varied complexities of an enterprise that - though it was undertaken solely in the self-serving interests of Empire - would go on to form an integral part of Independent India. Instructive, inspiring and even endearing, Railways & The Raj is a captivating read. -- Shashi Tharoor * Author of INGLORIOUS EMPIRE * Wolmar tells an epic story, at once shocking and inspiring. Stripped of false nostalgia for the Raj and all its deceptions, India's railways emerge greater than ever, and still central to the nation's identity and future. -- Simon Bradley * Author of THE RAILWAYS * Railways & The Raj is brilliant - absorbing, engrossing and definitive. -- Michael Williams * Author of ON THE SLOW TRAIN * Christian Wolmar helps to explain what is special about Indian railways, and why despite being the work of a colonial power, they fit so well with the country... Wolmar entertainingly examines the complicated legacy of the railway, the most palpable element of British imperialism. * Michael Portillo * Christian Wolmar brings to life the early days of trains in India and describes with great clarity and wit how railways have spread across the vast country over the years. This is not a dry, stuffy read merely for rail enthusiasts. It's full of energy, enthusiasm and erudition, explaining the role of railways at key moments in the country's history from early mutinies against the colonialists to independence and beyond. Highly recommended. -- Tom Chesshyre * Author of TICKET TO RIDE * This is one up-to-date book on Indian Railways that captures its history, life, stories and status... A must-read for all those keen followers of India's railways and for those who want to know all about it. -- Rajendra B. Aklekar * Author of HALT STATION INDIA * Eschewing the dryness of other books on the subject, Wolmar's historical detail is pumped with colour and life... If we're ever to trust a writer on India's railways, it should be one who isn't afraid to sit in the open doorway of a moving train, chai in hand, watching the country roll past in all its glory. -- Foreword by Monisha Rajesh * Author of AROUND INDIA IN 80 TRAINS *

Christian Wolmar writes regularly for a wide variety of publications including the Independent, Evening Standard and Rail magazine, and appears frequently on TV and radio as a commentator on transport issues. His previous books include the widely-acclaimed The Subterranean Railway; Fire and Steam; Blood, Iron and Gold; Engines of War; The Great Railway Revolution and To the Edge of the World.

General Fields

  • : 9780857890641
  • : Atlantic Books, Limited
  • : Atlantic Books
  • : October 2017
  • : 234mm X 156mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : November 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 1x8pp colour plates, 1x8pp b/w plates and maps
  • : 384
  • : 385.0954
  • : English
  • : Main
  • : Hardback
  • : Christian Wolmar