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.
Beautifully written . . . essential to a proper understanding of the war and of our world of today. A much needed book — Michael Morpurgo
Absorbing and welcome . . . explores a remarkably diverse fighting force of 1.5 million men of all castes and creeds . . . This book is a fitting testament to the sacrifices they made — Observer
Revelatory . . . fluent and colourful . . . This book describes the war as a worldwide conflict involving a million Indian soldiers [and] shows how crucial they were to Allied success — Andrew Lycett, Telegraph
An outstanding book that brings to life the experiences of Indian soldiers in all of the theatres of WWI, from German colonies in China and Africa to the Middle East and the Western Front. Thoroughly researched and engagingly written, George Morton-Jack restores the Indian Army to its rightful place in the history of the Great War — Eugene Rogan, author of The Fall of the Ottomans
Fascinating — BBC History Magazine
The Indian Army's role in World War I is perhaps the least understood dimension of that global conflict. Although the centenary of the war sparked off some interest in the stories of these soldiers, there has been no sustained examination of their experiences. Army of Empire fills this void in our historical understanding admirably and comprehensively. Widely researched and vividly written, George Morton-Jack's account of the Indian Army's crucial contribution to the Allied victory is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon — Srinath Raghavan, author of India’s War
Fascinating . . . George Morton-Jack writes with the compassionate heart of a poet and the cold eye of a historian seeing the vast canvas of the ages. We owe him gratitude for bringing light to a deserving but neglected part of world history; those of us with an interest in South Asia are forever indebted to him — Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic studies, American University
A highly detailed look at India's global effort in their (mostly) patriotic devotion to the empire . . . World War I fans will appreciate the broad look — Kirkus
One of the most interesting and informative works yet published on the Indian Army during World War I — History of War
One of this year's most enlightening reads . . . Written with brilliant verve from the perspective of the Indian soldier and using almost entirely new information, it fits the Indian experience superbly into the overall Great War narrative — Andrew Roberts, BBC History
Readable, important, and fills a gap that should have been dealt with long ago — Professor Sir Michael Howard, author of The First World War
This book is essential for devotees of WWI military history and those fascinated by the complexities of empire — Publishers Weekly
Magisterial and yet immensely readable . . . George Morton-Jack skilfully presents the reader with the first comprehensive telling of the Indian story and places it in a global context . . . This is the book for anyone interested in an authentic broad-based account of the role played by India and its soldiers in the defining conflict of the twentieth century — India Today
A splendid book . . . comprehensive and distinctive . . . A multi-layered, rigorously researched and empathetically interpreted account of the Indian contribution to the Great War — Hindustan Times
A brilliant work of scholarship, and, into the bargain, a very exciting read [with] wonderful photographs and maps. Morton-Jack brilliantly and vividly shows how, in the Great War, Indians . . . probably rescued the whole Allied cause in the west in 1914 . . . Rather than present the Indians at war simply as loyal victims, Morton-Jack is sensitive to the tense, conflicted nature of Indian servicemen's undoubted commitment to the Allied cause — Spiked Review
George Morton-Jack draws on a monumental storehouse of material to recreate the role played by Indian soldiers in the Great War. From the dangerous missions they undertook as double agents to the ordeals they endured as prisoners of war, Morton-Jack shows the Indian soldiers as playing a decisive role in the fortunes of the war — Livemint (India)
An extremely wide canvas covering not only France and Flanders but also the Middle East and Africa as well as Italy, Romania, Germany and Switzerland... Morton-Jack really gets under the skin of his subject and his narrative is masterful. This is not a book which can easily be put down once started and is a must read for anyone with an interest in the complexities, subtle relationships and contribution of the Indian Empire during the First World War — Bulletin of the Military Historical Society