Monday, January 21, 2013

W3: H.H.: or The Pathology of Princes

The first impression of H.H. when it came out of the Biblio-Mat, was that it was dense. At just over 300 pages, it felt like a tome of sorts and read not unlike a textbook. A textbook on old school racism. A Passage to India this ain't.

Deceptive cover - everyone loves elephants.
H.H. (His Highness): or the Pathology of Princes, by Kanhayalal Gauba - a hardcover 306pg history book with a simple dustjacket, first edition published in 1930. Printed on what appears to be highly acidic paper, the pages on this copy were smooth, yellow, and starting to become brittle, which lends it an old world charm along with historical credibility.

Much as the secondary title presents itself, H.H. is an in-depth study in the princes and Maharajas of India, relating the royalty to a disease, ravaging the country. It is an immensely insightful look into the history of India, for many different reasons.

It did, however, have a cool title plate.
The introduction of the book begins with the author lamenting the choice of publishing the book or not, ultimately deciding to do so for the greater good of the world over the pride of his nation. He assures that this book isn't a sermon or vendetta, just facts as he aims to do the world a very public service in exposing the dark underbelly of India. How could you not trust such a selfless man? Surely he only means to enlighten us!

Even the dustjacket is smarmy.
Covering topics in fine detail on how Indian royalty hoard wealth, starve citizens, rape women, corrupt governments, and indulge in all manners of wasteful decadence. It is quite an educational history lesson, not in the horrors of monarchy, but actually in British Imperialism.

Published around the time of India's independence, H.H. is an amazing study in propaganda. Without a doubt the atrocities described in the book did exist (as they do in every nation), however, the presentation of these "facts" in the text is quite one-sided. However, statistics are cleverly strewn throughout to give it an air of honesty. Much like 'Birth of a Nation', the ultimate goal appears to be instilling the notion that the western world must rescue a savage race through domination, for if they were left to their own free will, the people would suffer.

The most interesting thing about this book, though, is its rarity. A quick search online displays very few results and there seems to be some disparity on how to spell the author's name. History does tend to fix itself in mysterious ways.

Book rating: 6/10 (points given for the stark cover and foldout map)

Random quote: "The ordinary constables, the rank and file of the police force, are drawn from the very scum of the population, and hardly one in a hundred of these knows how to read or write." (NWA in the 30's?)

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