Thursday, May 9, 1996

The Stranglers: The Cult of Thuggee & its Overthrow in British India

by George Bruce

An informative work on William Sleeman's efforts to destroy Thugee from the time when no one cared about it to his long overdue promotion to Major-General.  There were long excerpts from Sleeman's writings and transcriptions of actual conversations with captured Thugs; these were very revealing.  Besides describing the Thugee dialect, philosophy, superstitions and customs, the book portrays Sleeman as a selfless, tireless man who always put duty first: ahead of his health, his wealth, even his desire to be with his children.

It was an exciting story, not because of Bruce's rather dry style of telling it but because of its inherent thrills.  At times, the narrative could have used more detail (explaining how a specific gang was captured, for instance, instead of just mentioning that it was "luckily" done). All in all, though, a fine book. 

four stars