Friday, 15 March 2013

Nightrunners of Bengal - John Masters

Title: Nightrunners of Bengal
Author: John Masters
Publisher: Ballantine
Pages: 331

Content: John Master’s collection of writings is centered on the period of British India during the 19th century. This book is a fictional account of a Captain (of the fictional 13th Rifles, Bengal Native Infantry) dealing with the shock and challenge of the great Indian mutiny when the Army of Bengal revolted against the British. On a macro level, it reveals the institutional and societal ignorance that resulted in one of the bloodiest periods of British/Indian history. On the micro level, it sheds a clear light on unit loyalty and understanding and the key factors in leadership that transcend the traditional officer/soldier relationship. For the junior officer it serves to emphasize what is critical to understanding and maintaining command of native troops. For senior officers it reinforces what are some of the key factors in Eastern culture that soldiers look for in their commanders. Master’s experiences as a Brigadier in the Chindits (Burma) during WW2 and his insights into the Native Soldier are lessons to be studied as we continue our operations in Africa and Afghanistan. 

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