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Master of Bengal; Clive and his India by Percival Spear Thames and Hudson, London, 1975, pp, 224. £4.25.   In this short biography of Clive, Percival Spear has made a dispassionate and critical assessment of Robert Clive's character and his role in the establish­ment of the British empire in India, within the social, intellectual and moral framework, both Indian and English, of the environment in which he lived. In well chosen words, he describes the man who frustrated the French designs in India, amassed a fortune, brought down upon himself a cascade of accusations and criticism and finally died a shattered, lonely man. Percival Spear has succeeded admirably in two hundred odd pages what he sets out to do, ‘to seek a re-assess­ment and new interpretation of Robert Clive's character and work’. He has also posed some questions which would provide the guidelines for future research on this subject. The book is profusely illustrated.     Playing the Great Game (A Victorian Cold War) by Michael Edwardes Hamish Hamilton, London, 1975, pp. 160 £4.75.   Based mainly on unpublished sources from the archives in London, Moscow and New Delhi, this is a delightful little book about the contest for political ascendancy in central Asia between Tsarist Russia and Britain in the 19th century. Little known facts about long forgotten men bring home vividly the tragic consequences of policies dreamt up by decision-makers, sitting far away from the scene of action and completely divorced from reality. As the author says, ‘the Great Game subsumes more than a century of public drama and private tragedy, of high policies in ruins, needless wars, lonely deaths in wild places.’ When, in July 1807, on a great raft moored on the river Niemen at Tilsit in east Prussia, a treaty was concluded between Napoleon and Tsar Alexander, it was to unleash what Count Nesselrode called a 'tournament of shadows'. The story unfolds, of the secret agents—British and Russian—whose ‘clandestine activities often fed the dreams and terrors’ on both the sides. It ends with the Japanese victory over Russia in 1904, without a single combat between the two forces. An eminently readable book, which gives an honest appraisal of this 'Victorian Cold War'.     Détente: Perspectives and Repercussions Edited by M.S. Agwani, Vikas Publishing House, 1975, pp. 269, Rs. 45.00   This book represents the collective endeavour of some leading Indian specialists in world politics to examine the phenomenon of detente in the context of the motives ...


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