The Indian Uprising of 1857, in which Indian soldiers ('sepoys') turned against the British whom they had served faithfully for decades, had a profound impact on the colonial psyche, and its spectre haunted the British until the very last days of the Raj.
For the past 150 years most aspects of the Uprising have been subjected to intense scrutiny by historians, yet the nature of the outbreak itself remains obscure.
What was the extent of the conspiracies and plotting?
How could rumours of contaminated ammunition spark a mutiny when not a single greased cartridge was ever distributed to the sepoys?
Why did veteran sepoys and trusted servants suddenly turn on their masters and murder men, women, and children?
Based on a careful, even-handed reassessment of the primary sources, The Great Fear of 1857 explores the existence of conspiracies during the early months of that year and presents a compelling and detailed narrative of the panics and rumours which moved Indians to take up arms.
With its fresh and unsentimental approach, this book offers a radically new interpretation of one of the most controversial events in the history of British India.