Books: Mad Dogs & Englishmen

THE BLACK HOLE OF CALCUTTA by Noel Barber. 254 pages. Houghton Mifflin. $3.95.

The Black Hole of Calcutta? U.S.

Physicist and Amateur Historian Harvey Einbinder declared in 1963 that it was just a gory story to frighten voters with, an atrocity invented by the British to justify their conquest of Bengal. The British bristled, and this brief but masterly report by a correspondent for the London Daily Mail assures any doubters that the atrocity actually occurred. It occurred, in fact, at the anticlimax of a comedy of horrors scarcely paralleled in British history.

The horrors began early in June 1756, when the Nawab of...

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