An enigma within a paradox might best describe the nature of British rule in India. The Indian Empire was the `jewell in the crown', Queen Victoria was Empress of India and her successors similarly raised to the purple, India was the lodestone of the British Empire and her loss regarded as an _x000D_irretrievable blow to Britain's status as a world power. The British in _x000D_India, first as adventurers and traders, and finally as rulers through the _x000D_India Office in London and the Viceroy's Government in India oversaw all _x000D_aspects of Indian life - district administration, law, police, army, _x000D_economics and trade, education and culture, relations with Princely states _x000D_and foreign powers. And all was recorded in detail yielding the rich sources which, together with a vast library of travellers's tales and personal memoirs, underpin this study. And there was mixing of cultures, certainly at the elite level, and Indian writers could say that `all that was good and living within us was made, shaped and quickened by ... British rule. But the deep sense of alienation remained and the British were always `little community of aliens'. The end came quickly at independence in 1947 and the British left a bitterly divided sub-continent._x000D__x000D_This is not a blow-by-blow traditional history but a narrative social and _x000D_cultural history although naturally framed by the political and military _x000D_story and the imperial context.It tries to get beneath the skin of the _x000D_British-Indian relationship at all levels, enlivened by striking personality _x000D_and anecdote, throughout the long history to the present when India is a _x000D_regional super-power and, with Pakistan, a member of the nuclear club.