The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge, and India's Quest for Independence

The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge, and India's Quest for Independence

The dramatic true story of a celebrated young survivor of a 1919 British massacre in India, and his ferocious twenty-year campaign of revenge that made him a hero to hundreds of millions—and spawned a classic legend.When Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, ordered Brigadier General Reginald Dyer to Amritsar, he wanted Dyer to bring the troublesome city...

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Title:The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge, and India's Quest for Independence
Author:Anita Anand
Rating:

The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge, and India's Quest for Independence Reviews

  • Dawn Michelle

    I seem to be on a real India kick lately [I cannot seem to learn enough about this fascinating country and the people that live there] and so when I saw this book on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read more history of this amazing county. I was NOT expecting the book I read.

    You would think, that by the title, I would have had a clue that this was not going to be the easiest book to read, but apparently, I was having a stupid day and thought it was going to be another book rich in Indian h

    I seem to be on a real India kick lately [I cannot seem to learn enough about this fascinating country and the people that live there] and so when I saw this book on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read more history of this amazing county. I was NOT expecting the book I read.

    You would think, that by the title, I would have had a clue that this was not going to be the easiest book to read, but apparently, I was having a stupid day and thought it was going to be another book rich in Indian history and that was that. AND, to be honest, it is about that. But it is also about so much more.

    I had not heard of Udham Singh and I absolutely had not heard of [which is a travesty in my opinion] of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. The lead up to the actual massacre and then the act itself filled me with rage, sadness and despair for the people that were there and for the survivors of that horrific act [I actually could not speak of it for several days as it made me want to vomit just thinking about it, much less speaking about it]. I mentioned to a friend that in my opinion, not all the monsters came out of Germany - what Michael O'Dwyer and Reginald Dyer did was nothing short of what Hitler did, except that he did it on a bigger stage and scale. Note this quote from the book:

    "Sir Michael simply could not understand why his masters in London failed to see the deficits in the natives that he did. It maddened him that the greater autonomy was being given to inferior races. Step by step Britain would lose the entire Raj unless men like him stopped it from happening." This is just one of the many examples of just how one-sided this man was in regards to the Indian people. And the massacre was just a tipping point for him in regard to how he looked and treated and acted about the people of India. And considering that Dyer was born and raised in India, the way he perceived the Indian people and his actions in regards to the massacre continued to surprise me over and over again. I believe there may be a special ring of hell for men like these two.

    The problem I had over and over again was my moral compass and what I thought of Udham Singh. Certainly he was a murderer and as the story unfolds, we see him as a user and a liar and someone who is absolutely driven by revenge and vengeance [his disappointment over not being able to kill Dryer is very striking], but at the same time, you see him as someone who loves his country and the men and women and children in it and who sees the massacre as the last straw by the British Raj. At some points, I found myself almost agreeing with him. As O'Dwyer comes home to England and continues to both justify the massacre and spew his hatred of what he deems his "inferiors" [much to the delight of those he chose to surround himself with], you almost wish that Udham Singh would get on with it and kill the man already. It was very much a catch-22 situation and even at this moment of writing this review, I am still troubled by how this book left me. I certainly don't condone murder and vengeance, but I find it difficult to be unsympathetic to Udham Singh.

    I always say it is important to know your history, but it also important to know other's history as well, so we will not be doomed [one can hope] to repeat such atrocities. This story is a perfect example of this - this is history we all should know and remember and pray that we never, ever repeat it.

    Thank you to the Author, NetGalley and Scribner Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Katedurie50

    I knew a little about the Amritsar massacre but found this extended my understanding exponentially. Post-colonial history has to be seen from the perspective of the colonised and marginalised, and this story of rage and revenge makes so many connections, not just with Indian independence movemnets but Russia and Nazi Germany. What I particularly like is that the book doesn't play heroes and villains. Udham Singh is often far from noble; Sir Michael O'Dwyer is a Catholic from Ireland who has rise

    I knew a little about the Amritsar massacre but found this extended my understanding exponentially. Post-colonial history has to be seen from the perspective of the colonised and marginalised, and this story of rage and revenge makes so many connections, not just with Indian independence movemnets but Russia and Nazi Germany. What I particularly like is that the book doesn't play heroes and villains. Udham Singh is often far from noble; Sir Michael O'Dwyer is a Catholic from Ireland who has risen but carried with him a fear and loathing of nationalist politics. Rex Dyer, who ordered the troops to fire, was haunted by the sense that many thought, even in Biitain, he had committed a terrible, inexcusable wrong. And behind it all there's the shadow of the 1857 Mutiny; the British were terrified it could happen again.

    The story is well told, easy to read, but does justice to the complexity of all this.

  • Julian Walker

    Written more like a novel, this is an incredible tale of a slice of history about which I have to admit I knew next to nothing.

    Weaving together the lives of those involved in this tale of horror, rejection, revenge and adoration, all sides of the incident are examined and an incredible picture is painted.

    Eye opening, stimulating, shaming and uplifting all in one.

    A cracking story, brilliantly told.

  • Bernie O Brien

    What a story ! Thoroughly researched and told in an engaging way. I learned a lot about the horrors of colonialism and the mindset of those in power. Some interesting insights into Ghandi also. There were also very interesting references to Ireland and Africa at this time . Highly recommend this book.

  • Manish Garg

    Being from Punjab the Amritsar massacre is very close to me. Unforgettable part of Punjab history. On eve of 100 years of this horrific I decided to read this book. The book is one of the best non fiction I read so far. Not only the point that the event is so personal to me, the book is really very well written. Very gripping. Must read!

  • Barbara

    2019 is the centenary of the Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre, one of Britain's most heinous crimes against their empire, and sadly one of which the vast majority of Brits are largely unaware. Anita Anand has taken the anniversary as a great opportunity to tell the tale of one man, Udham Singh, allegedly a survivor of the massacre (though it's not 100% proven) and his 21-year plan to kill the men behind the killings. Brigadier General Reginald Dyer was the man who ordered the shots that killed hundre

    2019 is the centenary of the Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre, one of Britain's most heinous crimes against their empire, and sadly one of which the vast majority of Brits are largely unaware. Anita Anand has taken the anniversary as a great opportunity to tell the tale of one man, Udham Singh, allegedly a survivor of the massacre (though it's not 100% proven) and his 21-year plan to kill the men behind the killings. Brigadier General Reginald Dyer was the man who ordered the shots that killed hundreds of men, women and children, whilst Lieutenant Governor Sir Michael O'Dwyer supported and encouraged the killing and spent many years trying to position Dyer (and himself) as national heroes who together prevented another Indian mutiny.

    Anand has created a really solid book, thoroughly researched without being too 'heavy' or intellectually worthy. As I was reading I could imagine the book converted into a fantastic film - though I somehow doubt that anybody would be brave enough to take it on. She offers a balanced picture of the three men involved, amazingly managing to make me feel just a little bit sorry for Dyer; something I never would have thought possible. Singh's adventures and misadventures, his international travels and undercover shenanigans, name changes, conniving and plotting are absolutely fascinating. Even Michael O'Dwyer (who I personally think got what he deserved but 20 years later than he deserved it) is presented as a more layered and complex character than I expected.

    There are fascinating bits in this. I might have known that Udham Singh spent time in prison with Bhagat Singh, the atheist revolutionary and considered him a friend and an inspiration. I also loved learning that he was a good friend to the family of Indarjit Singh (familar to Radio 4 listeners for his 'Thought for the Day' sessions) and played with Lord Singh and his brother whenever he visited their parents. Lord Singh is now 86 years old, but there's something special about biographies of people who were known by people still alive today.

    This book isn't for everybody. I hope it will go down well with Indian readers but I suspect that outside India, you need to be a bit of a passionate reader of books on pre-Independence Indian history to get the most out of it.

    I borrowed this from my local library's ebook scheme but will definitely try to get my own copy as it's such a great book and one I'll want to dip into again.

  • Sharan

    Anand has a brilliant way of weaving this complicated & heartbreaking history. As I was never taught about Empire in my British education I am trying to learn it on my now. Anand takes her well researched topic and accounts from the day and modern times and makes it read like a well written fictional story. I am a student at her feet.

  • Chrissie

    Do you know of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre? It is also referred to as the Amritsar massacre. Read this book and find out. Learning about the massacre opens your eyes to British colonialism as with a punch.

    The massacre took place on April 13, 1919, in Amritsar which is located in the Punjab province of India. The book tells of the events that led up to the massacre, what happened during the massacre and what transpired in the days and weeks that followed. It looks at long term consequences, yea

    Do you know of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre? It is also referred to as the Amritsar massacre. Read this book and find out. Learning about the massacre opens your eyes to British colonialism as with a punch.

    The massacre took place on April 13, 1919, in Amritsar which is located in the Punjab province of India. The book tells of the events that led up to the massacre, what happened during the massacre and what transpired in the days and weeks that followed. It looks at long term consequences, years and decades later. It looks at those involved--both those holding the reins of power, the British colonialists, and the Indian people under British domain.

    .

    The massacre had profound effects on those who witnessed it. Some came to feel survivor’s guilt. Others sought revenge.

    The book follows one man, who at all costs, sought revenge.

    The book is not dry. It reads as narrative non-fiction. It

    portrays an event in history and is at the same time based on in-depth, solid research. That which is uncertain is presented as such. To my eyes, the presentation appears balanced and impartial.

    The author reads the audiobook. She is not only an author, but also a journalist and a British-Indian radio and television broadcaster. As a result, she reads rapidly. Her diction is clear but for those listeners of a different background, the speed with which she hurls out Indian names and terms makes listening difficult. You simply have not adequate time to absorb that which is evident and common knowledge to her. She speaks so rapidly that I gave up trying to write down individuals’ names. Her fluency certainly did not make it easier for me to absorb the book’s content. I have therefore given the narration a rating of one star.

    I recommend the book with the reservation that I did

    come to feel close to the central characters, as I did with the author’s other book which I absolutely adored!

    ************************

    5 stars

    4 stars

  • Prabu Pandurangan

    Interesting telling of one man’s relentless pursuit of vengeance. The Hindu-German collaboration and Indo Bolshevik conspiracy to bring down British empire through the Ghadars was indeed fascinating. Enough to create a Hollywood/ Bollywood movie ..

  • Wanda

    27 JAN 2019 - spied on Geevee's feed. Many Thanks to you, Geevee. Happy Reading.

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