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The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India
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  • 11 maps
  • Page extent: 456 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.84 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 954.03/12
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: DS475.3 .C66 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Maratha War, 1803--Campaigns
    • Maratha War, 1803--Finance

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521824446 | ISBN-10: 0521824443)

This is a cross-cultural study of the political economy of war in South Asia. Randolf G. S. Cooper combines an overview of Maratha military culture with a battle-by-battle analysis of the 1803 Anglo-Maratha Campaigns. Building on that foundation he challenges ethnocentric assumptions about British superiority in discipline, drill and technology. He argues that these campaigns, in which Arthur Wellesley served with distinction, represent the military high-water mark of the Marathas who posed the last serious opposition to the formation of the British Raj. Dr Cooper asserts that the real contest for India was never a single decisive battle for the subcontinent. Rather it turned on a complex social and political struggle for control of the South Asian military economy. The author shows that victory in 1803 hinged as much on finance, diplomacy, politics and intelligence as it did on battlefield manoeuvre and war itself.

• An interesting account of the last major indigenous challenge to the establishment of the British Raj • Challenges existing assumptions about British superiority in discipline, drill and technology • A major contribution to British military history beyond Europe in the Napoleonic period, and to the political economy of warfare in South Asia


List of maps; Acknowledgements; A note on transliteration and references; List of abbreviations used in the references; Introduction; 1. Maratha military culture; 2. British perceptions and the road to war in 1803; 3. The Deccan campaign of 1803; 4. The Hindustan campaign of 1803; 5. 'Coming in'; 6. The anatomy of victory; Appendix I: chronology of Anglo-South Asian wars; Appendix II: British troop strengths and casualties for the Hindustan and Deccan campaigns 1803; Appendix III: Governor-General Wellesley's 'Maratha' proclamation of 1803; Appendix IV: mercenary pension records; Appendix V: the Marathas' employment of mercenaries in historic perspective; Glossary; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


'… it is unlikely that the author's analysis of that fascinating and turbulent period at the turn of the 19th century will be bettered for some considerable time … first modern analysis of the Anglo-Maratha wars … highly recommended.' Chowkidar

'Randolf Cooper's study of the Anglo-Maratha conflict of 1803 makes a valuable contribution to the new military history that examines not simply the development of warfare, but its complex interaction with wider technological, political, socio-economic and cultural factors.' Rusi Journal

'In short, drawing on a wide reading of British and Indian material, and displaying a commendable ability to understand the different military cultures of the combatants, this important book will not only be the leading work on its subject, but also one of more general interest.' The Journal of Military History

'In all this, Cooper skilfully combines his military scholarship with his insights into wider issues and into the unique features of the Indian polity, heavily dependent as it was on the dynamics of the South Asian military economy. … this is no less than a revolutionary book. By convincingly explaining the E.I.C.'s conquest of India in the broader context of the South Asian military economy, it aims at the hard core of old imperial historiography and thus prepares the road to re-interpretations in the field of colonial history that are bound to do far more justice to the internal dynamics of Indian society than we have been able to do so far.' Itinerario

'… lucid and culturally-nuanced account of the key battles which comprised the Anglo-Maratha War of 1803–1805 … anyone interested in how the British succeeded on Indian battlefields would be well advised to consult this work …' Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

'… brings out very interesting and revealing conclusions regarding the misconceptions perpetuated by the British authors about the Marathas … The book is a refreshing attempt at objective analysis of convenient stereotypes … highly recommended …' U.S.I. Journal

'The book constructs a useful model of the political economy of the Maratha wars to question the ethnocentric assumptions of British military superiority as well as the nationalistic explanations of the Maratha effect … He matches the rich details for almost every important battle in the period by an equally rigourous attempt to engage with the mooted issues of the transition to colonialism … In other words, whereas the book brings out the complexity of the Maratha military culture with remarkable insight, it essentialises and simplifies that of the British … The dexterous handling of the military archives that has enriched our understanding of the Maratha political culture.' Journal of Modern Asian Studies

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