Exclusive competition: Win new book Railways & The Raj

Inside Croydon is delighted to present another great competition, exclusive to our site supporters, with two prizes up for grabs which should delight anyone interested in history, India or railways, or could make an outstanding present for Christmas.

Railways & The Raj is the latest book from transport expert Christian Wolmar.

Wolmar’s railway books published by Atlantic have sold nearly 200,000 copies, and this latest work is expected to be a best-seller. And for two Inside Croydon subscribers, they can win a copy each through answering a simple question.

Published last month, in his expertly told history, Wolmar reveals the full story of India’s railways, from its very beginnings to the present day, and examines the chequered role they have played in Indian history and the creation of today’s modern state. 

Michael Williams, the author of On The Slow Train, has described Wolmar’s book by saying, “Railways & The Raj is brilliant – absorbing, engrossing and definitive.”

India was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. There were vast riches to be exploited and vast numbers of people to be subjugated. How better to achieve these aims than by building a rail network that facilitated the export of raw material and made it easier for troops to travel around the country to tackle uprisings?

Christian Wolmar: transport expert and author of Railways & The Raj. Photo by Mike King

India joined the railway age late: the first line was not completed until 1853 but, by 1929, 41,000 miles of track served the country. However, the creation of this vast network was not intended to modernise India for the sake of its people but rather was a means for the colonial power to govern the huge country under its control, serving its British economic and military interests.

By building India’s railways, Britain radically changed the nation but also unwittingly created the preconditions of independence. While the railways benefited India and were its first modern development, their construction ultimately contributed to a stirring of nationalist opinion, as resentment grew among the Indian population over the conditions they endured when travelling by train and the barring of Indians from the better paid railway jobs.

Despite the dubious intentions behind the construction of the network, the Indian people quickly took to the railways, as the trains allowed them to travel easily for the first time. The Indian Railways network remains one of the largest in the world, serving more than 25million passengers each day.

Reviewer Shashi Tharoor says of Railways & The Raj: “‘Christian Wolmar masterfully chronicles the iconic journey of the Indian Railways, deftly navigating his way through the varied complexities of an enterprise that – though it was undertaken solely in the self-serving interests of Empire – would go on to form an integral part of Independent India. Instructive, inspiring and even endearing, Railways & The Raj is a captivating read.”

Published by Atlantic, Railways & The Raj is 364 pages and costs £25. It can be ordered online here.

Or, two lucky subscribers to Inside Croydon can each win themselves a copy in our exclusive competition by answering this question:

In what year was the first line of the Indian Railways completed?

To enter, you must be a subscriber to Inside Croydon. Click here to sign up now to support independent, campaigning journalism in Croydon for just £4 per month.

To enter the competition, send an email, with “Railways & The Raj competition” in the subject field, and your answer, plus a daytime contact phone number, to inside.croydon@btinternet.com. Entries close on December 20, 2017.

It may be possible to arrange collection/delivery of the winners’ prizes in time for Christmas.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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