A brilliantly original take on the First World War, tracing the Indian army's journey from a small professional service to a crucial part of the conflict.
Almost two million volunteers served the Indian army in the Great War, always under British regimental officers, high commanders and staff. 150,000 of them were long-serving pre-war professional soldiers; most of the remainder were wartime recruits, drawn from across South Asia. Half of the Indian soldiers were sent overseas, and those who returned did so with a very different outlook on life.
In most histories of the war, the Tommies, pals and poets have dominated the tales - but what of the war as experienced by their Indian counterparts? George Morton-Jack's remarkable, fresh take on the First World War sets this right, telling the Indian army's story of 1914-18 through the voices of the service's officers and ranks, and of the princes, priests, prostitutes and others who encountered them across the continents. It reveals their journeys to the greatest battlefields mankind had ever seen, their experiences as prisoners of war in Germany, Romania and elsewhere, and their missions as secret agents that took them down rivers, across deserts and through mountain ranges from Transylvania to Afghanistan and beyond.
The Indian Empire at War is a fascinating, necessary book that illuminates a central part of the Great War that has too often been overlooked.
George Morton Jack studied history at Oxford University and wrote his first book on the First World War, The Indian Army on the Western Front, for Cambridge University Press. He currently lives in London.