Mark Twain and the Baltimore Riots

Mark_twain_saronyNicolaus Mills at The New York Observer:

At a time when Rudyard Kipling was thought to be the greatest authority on India and the British empire, Twain, a vehement foe of imperialism, provides a compelling alternative view. Twain is not naïve about India, but he is open to appreciating it. “So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or Nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his round,” he writes in Following the Equator.

It’s a view that separates Twain from most of his Western peers when it comes to describing “thugs,” a term derived from Hindi that the British popularized in the early 19th century when they thought to get rid of the Indian gangs known as thugs that were responsible for widespread murders and robberies.

The assault on the thugs of India came in a campaign that peaked in the 1830s and 1840s, and in Following the Equator Twain relies heavily on the 1840 government report of W. H. Sleeman of the Indian Service, who is credited with eradicating the thug gangs of India.

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