Blurb of a book:
‘The Butcher of Sobraon’ – Challenging the Myths of the British in India
The history of the British colonisation of the Punjab is a disturbing story of the most appalling atrocities, the most obscene contraventions of fundamental human rights and the theft and pillaging of a great nation.
Under the auspices of spreading the word of God and the fake premise of helping to educate an ignorant, backwards nation, British aristocrats committed the kind of sins which fit uncomfortably in the same bracket as Hitler, as Ivan the Terrible, as Pol Pot, Stalin or Saddam Hussein.
In this rampagjng work, Gavin Singh tells it as it was. There is none of the romanticism of costume dramas glorifying the Raj; none of the false nobility of white suited British Gentlemen defeating ignorance and the climate to make the Punjab a sunnier Britain. Improving the world before taking tiffin is as much as a myth as the idea that the Punjab was a backwards nation.
Singh describes a State rich in wealth and resources, self-sufficient and led by an inclusive Maharaja years ahead of his time. He explains how that Maharaja, Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab, led his nation to a period of Camelot. How he overcame the war lords of neighbouring Afghanistan to bring peace and power to his nation.
How he was helped by the great warrior queen, Rani Sada Kaur and how, as his reign ended, his nation fell into chaos. Indeed, it is not just the imperialists who have the light of truth shone upon them. Singh shows how the great Sada Kaur turned when she saw her legacy begin to crumble; how the Maharaja Ranjit Singh was driven by short termism – how even while the Punjab was enjoying the greatest period of its history, turbulence was growing beneath the bejewelled surface of the nation.
He demonstrates how the British were allowed to enter the Punjab, using the three turncoats Lal Singh, Tej Singh and Gulab Singh. The first two, Hindus at heart, betrayed their country and cost millions of their kin their lives by acting for the British while supposedly leading the great Sikh army in the first Anglo-Sikh war. He shows how that war was fake; pre-arranged and the result decided in the favour of the imperialists when victory for the Sikhs would have cast the colonizing British out the whole of India. He shows how close to victory the Sikh army came, despite their leaders doing everything they could to prevent that from happening. We also discover how one British officer, Joseph Davey Cunningham sees the truth and writes it down in a history of the Punjab. What happens to him as a result should be a shock…but probably is not.
Singh introduces the Regent, Rani Jind Kaur, who tried against all odds to hold the throne for her son, still a minor, and how the trickery of the British, the complicity of the Sikh Government and her own uncertain ambitions combined to ensure that last Maharaja of the Sikh nation was lost to the Punjab.
Complicity is a theme to which Singh returns frequently. It is only through the complicity of a people who place short term coping above long term freedom that the British manage to rape and pillage their kingdom.
And that the imperialists do. Most symbolically through stealing the Koh-i-Noor, the world’s biggest and most precious diamond, the icon of the Sikh nation. We discover how the plan is formulated at the highest level – Queen Victoria covets, and her acolytes – the Iron Duke of Wellington and Robert Peel – conspire to have that brilliant jewel stolen and delivered to her.
We learn how they employ Lord Dalhousie, the abhorrent epitome of all that is worst about such Victorian cancers as greed and duplicity. How he steals not only the Koh-i-Noor but the young Maharaja himself. Duleep Singh is still a child when he is abducted from his mother and ultimately sailed across the oceans back to England. Once there, he is ensconced in Elveden near Thetford, a play thing for Victoria and her aristocratic subservients to show off like some exhibit in a freak show or new animal in a zoo. Then eventually, when the rich lose interest, to be discarded as wantonly as a used handkerchief or a country of the Empire.
We learn about what happens to the Koh-i-Noor, how it is savaged and shaved and still lies unreturned to this day, neither to its home in the Punjab nor even to Elveden. Yet, we discover, the diamond has power, and Karma is visited upon those who abuse it.
We learn through Singh’s stories of the Sepoy Mutiny; we touch on other great leaders to compare to those of the Punjab – the Afghanistan Emperor Akbar Khan and John F Kennedy. Singh even offers us a fictional look of what might have contributed to the building of the atrocities placed upon the Sikhs by the imperialist locusts.
Our view of the British Raj is one that has become softened, rose tinted by the current tendency to see Victorian Britain as some kind of panacea in which Britain ruled and the world thanked. In ‘Butcher of Sobraon’ (the scene of the decisive battle of the Fake War) Gavin Singh rips through the jingoism and xenophobia which the modern view of Victoria promotes, and tells the truth about the torment and the treachery which followed the British colonisation of the Punjab.
Extract from a chapter linking the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to President Kennedy.
Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated? The question that defined a generation. Time passes, and increasingly, though, the answer is now either not born, or too young to recall. But anybody born on or before the early fifties will raise an eyebrow, look to their left (the classic indicator that our memory cells are being revved up), and relate their exact whereabouts on Friday November 22nd, 1963.
We might not remember what we were doing the day before yesterday, but we will know exactly where we were the day that Kennedy died.
On November 21st of that year, Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz, died aged seventy three, and the day after the BBC aired ‘An Unearthly Child’, the first episode of a science fiction drama series which would gain world-wide status and be as popular as ever nearly sixty years later – of course, that is Dr Who – but it was the event of Friday November 22nd 1963 which triggers an impulse in everybody’s mind. Even, those who were not yet born.
President John F Kennedy was visiting Texas and sat in the rear of an open topped Lincoln Continental Presidential limousine with his wife, being driven past adoring crowds when, from the upper window of an adjacent bookstore, Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fateful shots which changed history.
Other presidents have been assassinated, still more suffered attempts on their lives. Stephen Sondheim managed to create a hit musical (Assassins) on the very subject. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. As was James Garfield (although it was not the bullet that killed him, rather the infection caused by the poking around in his insides by the dirty hands of the doctors who were attempting to save him). And Bill McKinley, at the wonderfully rhythmic location of the Pan American, Exposition in Buffalo. (A line from which Sondheim extracts enormous value in his musical.)
It is a little-known fact that, at the time of writing, three attempts have been made on Donald Trump’s life. Yet it is John F Kennedy whose death elevated an already good President to one whose reputation reached mystical proportions. Why? He served in the Oval Office for just 1000 days before his death. During that time the Bay of Pigs incident brought the world closer to nuclear annihilation than at any other time, before or since. He was a notorious womaniser who came from a family where rumours of links to the criminal underworld were freely and confidently banded around.
He was a flawed President. And that went in his favour.
Many thanks to Gavin Singh
Extracts taken from his book, ‘The Butcher of Sobraon’, ghost written by AB Peters.
True Crime Writing
Knowing East London’s Most Notorious Duo
We hadn’t seen Pete for more than forty years. In fact, chatting afterwards, the conclusion reached was that the last time was at our grandmother’s funeral, in the late seventies. It was ironic and unfortunate that this occasion was marked by sadness, as we recovered from the bitter cold of standing at our mother’s newly dug grave.
As a kid, I had not picked up on the fact that Pete was regarded a tad warily by my mum’s family. To me, he’d seemed a little distant, but one to get to know, with his hefty motorbike and cockney swagger. My sisters, though, were older and so more worldly wise. They knew that, through his dad (who ran a corner shop in the East End), Pete had ‘connections’.
Well, families have a habit of blowing up stories, and my mother’s were right up there in the premier league of that particular habit. But Pete did have a story to tell, and sitting there in a honey stoned East Midlands pub, eating flaky sausage rolls and thick ham sandwiches, he casually mentioned his connection to the Krays.
He’d only been a lad when they were at their most feared. But they’d left an impression. A good one as it turned out. They’d always be smiling when they finished talking with his dad. He would be too. Although Pete could not recall any of the conversations, both he and his mum were always present, and there was neither mystery nor malice in the meetings. When the Krays popped in, it was for a cup of tea and a chat.
Reggie and Ronnie were always smartly dressed, as Pete recalls. Slicked back hair and smart suits. Their mum featured highly in their lives – that is no media cliché. She really was a dominant figure, and they would do anything for her. She lived down the street from the shop, and Pete recalls just one occasion where she got cross, with Ronnie he thinks, and it was strange to see this giant of a man, whose reputation Pete did not fully grasp at the time, humbly walking down the street, arms out and voice high pitched liked a ten year old who had stayed out too long, and missed his tea.
When the social call was over, and whatever business (if indeed any) was completed, Pete recalls that the twins would get up and politely thank his mum. There would be more smiles, compliments on the cake they had consumed, and firm handshakes. As they left, it would be time for a bit of affection towards Pete. Ronnie would smile in the background, but it was Reggie who would ruffle the boy’s hair, ask him about school, or football, or whatever, hand over a two bob bit and tell him to work hard, respect his parents and come and see them when he grew up. They would see him alright.
Information Writing – How to Get Your Child A Trial at a Professional Football Club (Written for the US market).
Of course, the days of the hard-bitten scout turning up of the schools’ cup final, or the Sunday league trophy winner’s last game of the season are long gone. Money plays a part now, with top clubs realising the commercial potential of offering coaching courses associated with their name, where they can receive the double whammy of some additional income on top of the chance of finding a gem.
So, in this changing landscape, here are some ways a young player can get a professional soccer try-out. Who knows, it might open the door to glory.
One: The Soccer Camp
Many commercial companies will offer, for a fee, a short coaching course (sometimes just a day). They will promise that the camp will be visited, sometimes even run by, scouts and other people associated with professional clubs.
Their websites often have stories of players spotted and taken on in club academies. Success is rare, but that does not mean that the promising soccer players of the future won’t have a great time. Expect to pay around $130 for a day.
Two: The Club Connection
The next level of this approach into getting seen by a proper scout is to go direct to your clubs of choice. Most big ones will offer camps which will genuinely be staffed by people in their employ, or at least contracted out to them.
The quality of coaching will be good, and if you genuinely show some serious potential, that information will get back to the powers that be. Often, the bigger clubs will be set up with airport transfers and the like, which shows their desire to stretch the net as far and wide as possible. These clubs often take place during the summer and are residential courses. In the UK, where many clubs operate, they are housed in big public (that is, fee paying) schools.
As such facilities are likely to be good, with a big pool, large grass and Astroturf playing areas and a substantial set of indoor facilities. Accommodation will probably be in small dormitories. But there is a downside. Expect to pay up to $2000 for a week’s course. We believe that this sort of money is fine if the expectation is for a week of quality coaching and fun, plus a chance to make new friends in an active environment. If the money is being spent to satisfy the wish of getting a professional soccer tryout, then the motive is wrong.
Three: Employ an Agent
A very risky and expensive choice. The agent will have a network of scouts (which might be of any quality, and variable length) and will put forward (for a fee) the player seeking a professional soccer try-out. The agent will, of course, then be entitled to a percentage of future earnings if, by some chance, this does prove to be a good route into a club.
Four: Speak to Your School or College Physical Education Department
Clubs know that their academy players mostly come through either the school or club system. Therefore, they will seek to establish good links with these institutions so that, when that special player comes along, their coach contacts them before anybody else.
Many thanks to Abishek Kumar.
This extract appeared as a part of a blog on his soccer website www.abiprod.com/blog
In addition to biographies (including autobiography), historical writing, true crime and coaching books, AB Peters also specialise in the following topics:
Fiction – short stories, novels, children’s books and teen fiction
Poetry, plays and speech writing