An unusual book about Westerners who adopted India’s struggle for independence and in doing so found their own destinies
Ramachandra Guha, a prominent Indian historian’s book titled, ‘Rebels Against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom’ bags the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography 2023. This is an unusual book which is primarily talking about the role of Brits who were severely punished for going against the colonial British establishment of their day to fight for Indian independence.
Guha has been awarded a cheque of £5,000 (US$ 6,334) and a bound copy of Elizabeth Longford’s The Pebbled Store. Established in 2003, this prize is dedicated to British historian and biographer Elizabeth Longford, an annual testimony to historical biography. Guha’s win coincides with the award’s 20th anniversary.
The winning book is a collection of the story of 7 foreigners who came to India in the 19th to late 20th century and decided to struggle for India by joining the freedom movement. This book honors the pioneering work and tale of getting jailed and deportation of 4 British, 2 American, and 1 Irish, who fought for India’s independence from British colonial rule.
Roy Foster, Chair of the Prize said, “Ramachandra Guha’s ‘Rebels Against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom’ profiles seven people, from Britain, America, and Ireland, who adopted India’s struggle for independence and in doing so found their own destinies. The experience of India influenced and altered their ideologies, their spirituality, and often their names. In tracing their relationships with the iconic figure of Gandhi, Guha adds a new perspective to the Mahatma’s life which he has already focused so rewardingly on, in his multi-volume biography.”