Tag Archives: Indian freedom struggle

The Case that Shook the Empire, 2019

Title: The Case that Shook the Empire

Author: Raghu Palat and Pushpa Palat

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Non-fiction

Format: Hardcover

Language: English

No. of pages: 187


30 April 1924.

At the Court of the King’s Bench in London, the highest court in the British Empire, an English judge and jury head the case that would change the course of India’s history: Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab – and the man whose policies led to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre – had filed a defamation case against Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair for having published a book in which he referred to the ‘atrocities’ committed by the Raj in Punjab.

The widely-reported trial – one of the longest in history – stunned a world that finally recognized some of the horror being committed by the British in India.

Through reports of court proceedings along with a nuanced portrait of a complicated nationalist who believed in his principles above all else, The Case that Shook the Empire reveals,  for the very first time, the real details of the fateful case that marked the defining moment in India’s struggle for Independence.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Case that Shook the Empire tells us of the real truth, we hardly find in our history books. I myself had been unknowing of so many facts surrounding the infamous Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and this book was critical in informing me of the great man who dared.

When it comes to the writing, the book reads like a story. Beginning with a section on Sir Nair’s life, we slowly are introduced to the Punjab section, where the authors tell us or rather show (such is the vivid imagery) the atrocities inflicted on the Indian people. Leading up to the massacre, and the aftermath as the court proceedings take place, this is without doubt one of the most important events that marked a defining moment in India’s struggle for independence. The court proceeding scenes were just as intriguing to witness as well. It is a horrific tale that details the facts we have never read in our history books. I love how the writing flows smoothly, making it a good read. The authors also ensure that the reader is not bored – not that the events covered will let anyone rest. It is a tumultuous read that left me teary-eyed at some points, while at others, with gooseflesh at the back of my neck. However, I did find the text a bit repetitive at times.

The authors have also pointed out the differences in opinion between Nair and Gandhi. Gandhi and Anarchy is a book I intend to pick up soon. One of the things that was shown was that Sir Nair was a real character – he was a bit flawed at times, if you have certain perspectives – but he was unapologetically loyal to the principles he had for himself. He always strived to live up to those standards and ensured that he did his best at all times. His character is truly an inspiration for so many of us.


This was an informative read that I really felt genuinely while reading. I rate it 4/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

The Vanishing of Subhash Bose, by Rajesh Talwar, 2019

Title: The Vanishing of Subhash Bose

Author: Rajesh Talwar

Genre: Non-fiction

Format: E-Book

Language: English

No. of pages: 245

Recommended for: Ages 13 and above.


Netaji Bose, who led the Indian National Army to wage battles against the British, allegedly died in an air crash in Taipei, Taiwan soon after the Second World War came to an end. Did he really die in the air crash or was it a fabrication? This question was considered by three inquiry commissions, the last of which came to the clear conclusion that there was in fact no air crash. Each report is carefully dissected by the author, a trained international lawyer and public intellectual.
If Bose did not in fact die in the air crash, where did he go, what happened to him, and when, where and how did he meet his end? Why did Prime Minister Nehru keep Bose-related files away from the first committee that conducted an enquiry? Why did India’s first prime minister order that surveillance be carried out on the Bose family for decades? Why did Prime Minister Morarji Desai speak of new evidence that challenged the conclusions of the first two inquiries that Bose had died in an air crash? Why did Desai subsequently fall silent? This book provides explanations on all the important questions that have plagued Indian minds for decades. The mystery behind the springing tiger’s disappearance is finally unlocked.
If Gandhi’s non-violent struggle represented the feminine spirit of ‘ahimsa’ Bose and the INA’s struggle represented Indian manhood in its fullest flowering. In freedom struggles across the world, some of those who fought the hardest are subsequently ignored. If we apply the necessary corrective to the history of Indian independence, the author argues, we will change India’s view of itself and its place in the world, past, present and future.

My review:

Having never come across a book on Subhash Bose exclusively, The Vanishing of Subhash Bose was a pleasant surprise and subsequently, a gripping read as well. The entire book, right from the very first page itself, could attract all of my attention and kept me sucked in until the very end.

The fact that the book is very much based on research and available information, and then only some conjecture, makes the reader all the more intrigue, while also realizing the importance and significance of the book. The author has obviously put in a lot of research into this book, which is full of fats and such details.

Now despite the fact that this book is so full of such details and facts, the author has been able to keep the reader occupied with a great interactive writing style that does not bore the reader. However, having said that, I do feel that this might be a bit of a polarizing book – for people who absolutely may hate history, this book may not be for them, but then again, the entire topic is so very intriguing and curious that I think that if the reader just keeps on reading the first few pages, he will certainly fly through the next.

Everybody has theories as to what might have happened, thus leading the reader to conjecture wildly. But this book does not depend merely on such things but real events corresponding and related to the entirety of this situation. 

The writing style of the author is easy to understand and also very engaging. Relating the simple, and “non-major” aspects of this enigmatic man’s life was also very interesting. The author has truly done justice to this non-fiction book, by adding true facts and details, without surprisingly making it boring.

I really do think that this book is worth giving a read.


I enjoyed the book and I rate it a 4/5 stars.

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset  https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in