Book Review: The Indian Army in the Two World Wars


by Kaushik Roy, editor

Leiden & Boston: BRILL, 2011. Pp. xxiv, 554. Maps, notes, biblio., index. $237.00. ISBN: 900418550X

Noting in his introduction that there is no general account of the Indian Army in the first half of the twentieth century, Dr. Roy proceeds to give us an anthology providing an overview of that unusual military institution, helping to pave the way for a future comprehensive synthesis.

The Indian Army in Two World Wars includes essays by Roy and sixteen other scholars, among them Dennis Showalter, James Kitchen, and Rajit K. Mazumder.  These address various aspects of the organization, character, and performance of the Indian Army in the final decades of the British Raj.  The essays are grouped into three sections.  “Conventional Warfare” deals with the organization, preparation, and operations of the army in the world wars, from France to the Middle East to Africa to Burma.  “Internal Security in India” looks at the historically primary mission of the Indian Army, maintaining British rule.  “Warfare, Society, and the Indian Army” examines the effects of the world wars, the independence movement, racism, and more on the evolution of the army.  At various points the essays touch upon subjects as diverse as command, the so-called "martial races," regionalism, logistics, organization, officer procurement, civil disorder, morale, and more. 

A volume in Brill’s series “The History of Warfare,” The Indian Army in Two World Wars is a very important work for those interested in the Indian Army or any of the surprisingly numerous operations in which it not only participated, but often dominated.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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