Pamela Toler

Book-hoarding, 10th Century Style

by PamelaToler April 18, 2014
Book-hoarding, 10th Century Style

by Pamela Toler Anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time with me in recent months, whether in real life or in some virtual space, has probably heard me bemoan the state of my office bookshelves. As the photo above attests, they overflow. Loaded two deep and stacked rather than shelved, there is still not […]

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If You Love Jane Austen….

by PamelaToler March 18, 2014
If You Love Jane Austen....

by Pamela Toler Allow me to introduce Emily Eden–aristocratic spinster, political hostess, accomplished painter, and talented novelist. I first discovered Emily Eden through her connection to India. Her brother George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, was appointed Governor-General of India in 1835. Emily accompanied him to India and served as his Burra Lady Sahib (the […]

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The Black Hole of Calcutta

by PamelaToler February 18, 2014
The Black Hole of Calcutta

by Pamela Toler In mid-eighteenth century India, power was up for grabs.  The Mughal dynasty was in decay. Smaller regional powers flourished. European trading companies, which held their trading privileges at the discretion of Indian rulers, were constantly looking for a way to get an edge.  The British and French East India Companies, in particular, […]

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi

by PamelaToler January 18, 2014
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi

by Pamela Toler American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. always claimed, “From my background I gained my regulating Christian ideals. From Gandhi, I learned my operational technique.” The son and grandson of Baptist preachers in Atlanta, George, Martin Luther King went to Crozer Theological Seminary ready to fight for civil rights but […]

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The Amritsar Massacre: Another Step Toward Indian Independence

by PamelaToler December 18, 2013
The Amritsar Massacre: Another Step Toward Indian Independence

by Pamela Toler World War I brought India one step closer to demanding its independence from Great Britain. Indian regiments sailed overseas and fought alongside their Canadian and Australian counterparts. (If you visit the memorial gateway at Ypres, you will see how many of them died in defense of the empire.) Indian nationalists loyally supported […]

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The Swadeshi Movement: The First Step Toward Indian Independence

by PamelaToler November 18, 2013
The Swadeshi Movement: The First Step Toward Indian Independence

by Pamela Toler Beginning in the 1830s, the British East India Company provided Western education to a small number of Indian elites: it was cheaper and more effective than recruiting the entire work force of the empire back home in Britain. In addition to training clerks of all kinds, the East Indian Company created as […]

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Drug Wars

by PamelaToler October 18, 2013
Drug Wars

by Pamela Toler A growing number of addicts. A ruthless business cartel. A country determined to close its borders to imported drugs. Violence and corruption in major cities. Sound familiar? Welcome to the Opium War of 1839. In the late eighteenth century, opium was a key element in the British East India Company’s business plan. […]

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Gandhi’s March to the Sea

by PamelaToler September 18, 2013
Gandhi's March to the Sea

by Pamela Toler The American Revolution had the Boston Tea Party; the Indian independence movement had Gandhi’s salt march. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the British government in India had a heavily taxed monopoly on the production and sale of salt. It was illegal for anyone to make or sell salt. If a […]

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The Emperor Changes His Mind

by PamelaToler July 18, 2013
The Emperor Changes His Mind

by Pamela Toler Emperors tend to be known for their military conquests: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon.  The emperor Ashoka, who ruled the Maurya empire of India from 269 to 232BCE, is best known for his conversion to Buddhism and subsequent rejection of military aggression . In the early years of his […]

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Deciphering the Indus Valley

by PamelaToler June 18, 2013
Deciphering the Indus Valley

by Pamela Toler Around 2500 BCE, the first cities appeared on the banks of the Nile in Egypt, at the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), and in the valley of the Indus River in what is now Pakistan and northwest India India. Thanks to the Old Testament, traveling museum […]

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Stranger Magic

by PamelaToler May 18, 2013
Stranger Magic

by Pamela Toler I’m fascinated by the Arabian Nights. By the stories themselves and the way they fit together into their complicated frame story. By their transformation from Arabic street tales to a established position in the Western canon. By their echoes in Western culture, from the Romantic poets to Disney. So I was delighted […]

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A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

by PamelaToler April 18, 2013
A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

By Pamela Toler Sometimes a book grabs you by the throat and won’t let you put it down. I recently experienced that with Steve Kemper’s A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa. I got so wrapped up in the story that I broke my long-standing rule about traveling with hardcover books because I […]

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Suleyman the Magnificent Builds a Mosque

by PamelaToler March 18, 2013
Suleyman the Magnificent Builds a Mosque

by Pamela Toler Commissioning a mosque was both an act of piety and a political statement in the Ottoman empire. Surrounded by building complexes that provided social services ranging from a public fountain to a caravanserai, mosques anchored new neighborhoods in old cities. Who commissioned what was carefully linked to social status. Small officials commissioned […]

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Walking Hallowed Ground

by PamelaToler February 18, 2013
Walking Hallowed Ground

By Pamela Toler Over the years, I’ve walked through many a historical battleground, from the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (just outside the town where I grew up) to the Battle of Hastings. My Own True Love will tell you that I tear up at every battlefield I visit. Or at least get a lump in […]

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The Baburnama : An Emperor Tells His Own Story

by PamelaToler January 18, 2013
The <em>Baburnama </em>: An Emperor Tells His Own Story

By Pamela Toler (Wonders and Marvels Contributor) Zahir-u-din Muhammad Babur was the first Mughal ruler of India–one of history’s great empire builders by any standard. Born in 1483 in the Central Asian kingdom of Ferghana (part of modern Uzbekistan), Babur was descended from two great conquerors: Genghis Khan and Timur (known in the west as […]

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