What We Are Reading Today: The British in India - A Social History of the Raj

Updated 31 December 2018

What We Are Reading Today: The British in India - A Social History of the Raj

Author: David Gilmour

The British in India: A Social History of the Raj is a brilliant historical account, which avoids over simplifications or political posturing.
Author David Gilmour states: “This book is a social history rather than a political one, and it is about individuals rather than institutions.”
“With The British in India: A Social History of the Raj, Gilmour, metaphorical microscope in hand, has written a broad-ranging but precise and intimate examination of the British men and women who served and lived on the subcontinent,” said Isaac Chotiner in a review published in The New York Times.
“Gilmour does not offer much in the way of assistance to people who may be unfamiliar with the workings of the British administration in India, or the contours of Indian history, but he is so wide-ranging and diligent that it almost doesn’t matter,” said Chotiner.
William Dalrymple, reviewing the book The Guardian, said: “All British colonial life in India is here presented in elegant prose.”
“Gilmour, author of biographies of Rudyard Kipling and Curzon, in this book draws on more than 30 years of research in the archives, and presents an astonishing harvest from diaries, memoirs, letters and official documents of the era.”


What We Are Reading Today: Let the People Rule by John G. Matsusaka

Updated 19 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Let the People Rule by John G. Matsusaka

Propelled by the belief that government has slipped out of the hands of ordinary citizens, a surging wave of populism is destabilizing democracies around the world. 

As John Matsusaka reveals in Let the People Rule, this belief is based in fact, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

Over the past century, while democratic governments have become more efficient, they have also become more disconnected from the people they purport to represent. 

The solution Matsusaka advances is familiar but surprisingly underused: Direct democracy, in the form of referendums. 

While this might seem like a dangerous idea post-Brexit, there is a great deal of evidence that, with careful design and thoughtful implementation, referendums can help bridge the growing gulf between the government and the people.

Drawing on examples from around the world, Matsusaka shows how direct democracy can bring policies back in line with the will of the people (and provide other benefits, like curbing corruption).