Churchill’s Secret War

photo: Tarak Das (

Churchill’s Secret War

The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II
by Madhusree Mukerjee

Aug 10, 2010
US $28.95
CAN $34.50
UK £16.99
ISBN: 9780465002016
ISBN-10: 0465002013
Published by Basic Books

A dogged enemy of Hitler, resolute ally of the Americans, and inspiring leader through World War II, Winston Churchill is venerated as one of the truly great statesmen of the last century. But while he has been widely extolled for his achievements, parts of Churchill’s record have gone woefully unexamined. As journalist Madhusree Mukerjee reveals, at the same time that Churchill brilliantly opposed the barbarism of the Nazis, he governed India with a fierce resolve to crush its freedom movement and a profound contempt for native lives. A series of Churchill’s decisions between 1940 and 1944 directly and inevitably led to the deaths of some three million Indians. The streets of eastern Indian cities were lined with corpses, yet instead of sending emergency food shipments Churchill used the wheat and ships at his disposal to build stockpiles for feeding postwar Britain and Europe.Combining meticulous research with a vivid narrative, and riveting accounts of personality and policy clashes within and without the British War Cabinet, Churchill’s Secret War places this oft-overlooked tragedy into the larger context of World War II, India’s fight for freedom, and Churchill’s enduring legacy. Winston Churchill may have found victory in Europe, but, as this groundbreaking historical investigation reveals, his mismanagement—facilitated by dubious advice from scientist and eugenicist Lord Cherwell—devastated India and set the stage for the massive bloodletting that accompanied independence. Selling Territory: World (excludes India)

Winston Churchill

Madhusree Mukerjee

About the author

Madhusree Mukerjee was born in India and moved to the US to train as a physicist. She received a PhD in 1989 from the University of Chicago. After a stint as a post-doc  she changed careers to journalism and served on the board of editors of Scientific American for seven years. Mukerjee left the magazine to have a baby and to write her first book, The Land of Naked People, a study of conflicts between civilization and hunter-gatherers of the Andaman Islands, with the help of a Guggenheim fellowship. Her latest book, Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, is published in August by Basic Books. She lives in Germany with her husband and son.

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