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The Tears of the Rajas

Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905

A #1 international bestseller, this “epic and remarkable” (Sunday Times) sweeping history of the British in India as seen through the experiences of a single Scottish family is destined to become a classic.

For a century, the Lows of Clatto—the family of the author’s grandmother—survived mutiny, siege, debt, and disease, everywhere from the heat of Madras to the Afghan snows. They lived through appalling atrocities and retaliated with some of their own. Each of their lives, remarkable in itself, contributes to the whole fragile and imperiled, often shockingly oppressive and devious but now and then heroic story.

On the surface, John and Augusta Low and their relations may seem imperturbable, but through their letters and diaries they often reveal their loneliness and desperation—and their doubts about what they are doing in India.

The book brings to vivid life not only the most dramatic incidents of their lives—the massacre at Vellore, the conquest of Java, the deposition of the boy-king of Oudh, the disasters in Afghanistan, the Reliefs of Lucknow and Chitral—but also their personal ordeals: the bankruptcies in Scotland and Calcutta, the plagues and fevers, the tragic deaths of children. And it brings to life too the unfamiliarity of their everyday lives: the camps and the palaces they lived in, the balls and the flirtations in the hill stations, and the hot slow rides through the dust. An epic saga of love, war, intrigue and treachery, The Tears of the Rajas is an unforgettable read.


Ferdinand Mount is a prizewinning novelist, essayist and political journalist. He was editor of the Times Literary Supplement for over a decade and before that Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit. His political columns in the Spectator, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times were required reading in the 80s and 90s. Since then he has published a dazzling memoir Cold Cream, the controversial polemic The New Few and a bestselling history of the British in India, The Tears of the Rajas. He was born in 1939 and lives in North London.

More books from this author: Ferdinand Mount