Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India

Paperback | September 6, 2009

byStanley Wolpert

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Britain's precipitous and ill-planned disengagement from India in 1947 - condemned as a "shameful flight" by Winston Churchill - had a truly catastrophic effect on South Asia, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead in its wake and creating a legacy of chaos, hatred, and war that haslasted over half a century.Ranging from the fall of Singapore in 1942 to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, Shameful Flight provides a vivid behind-the-scenes look at Britain's decision to divest itself from the crown jewel of its empire. Stanley Wolpert, a leading authority on Indian history, paints memorableportraits of all the key participants, including Gandhi, Churchill, Attlee, Nehru, and Jinnah, with special focus on British viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten. Wolpert places the blame for the catastrophe largely on Mountbatten, the flamboyant cousin of the king, who rushed the process of nationhoodalong at an absurd pace. The viceroy's worst blunder was the impetuous drawing of new border lines through the middle of Punjab and Bengal. Virtually everyone involved advised Mountbatten that to partition those provinces was a calamitous mistake that would unleash uncontrollable violence. Indeed,as Wolpert shows, civil unrest among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs escalated as Independence Day approached, and when the new boundary lines were announced, arson, murder, and mayhem erupted. Partition uprooted over ten million people, 500,000 to a million of whom died in the ensuing inferno. Here then is the dramatic story of a truly pivotal moment in the history of India, Pakistan, and Britain, an event that ignited fires of continuing political unrest that still burn in South Asia.

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Britain's precipitous and ill-planned disengagement from India in 1947 - condemned as a "shameful flight" by Winston Churchill - had a truly catastrophic effect on South Asia, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead in its wake and creating a legacy of chaos, hatred, and war that haslasted over half a century.Ranging from the fall...

Stanley Wolpert is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Gandhi's Passion, Nehru: A Tryst With Destiny, Jinnah of Pakistan, and A New History of India.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.1 × 6.1 × 0.6 inPublished:September 6, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195393945

ISBN - 13:9780195393941

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. From the Fall of Singapore to the Failure of Cripps's Mission, February-April 19422. From Cripps's Failure to the Failure of Congress's "Quit India," April-October 19423. From Gandhi's Fast through the First Year of Wavell's Viceroyalty, January 1943-July 19444. Summit Failures and Cabinet Obstacles, August 1944-July 19455. From the End of World War II through the Cabinet Mission, August 1945-June 19466. The Interim Government, June-December 10467. Lord Mountbatten's Last Chukka, April-June 19478. Partitioned Transfer of Power, August 19479. Freedom's Wooden Loaf, August-October 194710. Indo-Pak War over Kashmir, October 1947-July 1948EpilogueNotes/Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

"An entertaining and highly controversial account of the British transfer of power in India." --The International History Review