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About The Book


'Reads like something from a thriller
colourful, detailed and meticulously researched' Sunday Times
‘Gripping from start to finish' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

Hundreds of peaceful civilians were slaughtered in the Amritsar Massacre of 13 April 1919, after British troops opened fire without warning. According to legend, Udham Singh was among the injured that day, and he vowed to take revenge. More than twenty years later, in a Westminster hall, he fulfilled that promise when he gunned down in cold blood the man ultimately responsible, Sir Michael O'Dwyer.

But what happened in the intervening years? In this sweeping narrative that takes the reader across four continents, Anita Anand separates reality from myth to reveal Singh's astonishing story. She brilliantly pieces together his movements, discovering surprising new links that take us from Jazz Age New York to the shady world of international spy rings. The Patient Assassin shines a devastating light on one of the Raj's most horrific events, but reads like a taut thriller.

About The Author

Anita Anand is a political journalist who has presented television and radio programmes on the BBC for twenty years. She currently presents Any Answers on Radio 4. She is the author of Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary and, with William Dalrymple, Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond. She lives with her husband and two children in London. 

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (February 6, 2020)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471174247

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Raves and Reviews

'Reads like something from a thrillercolourful, detailed and meticulously researched account...the book really shines in evoking the fevered atmosphere of India in the late 1910s and early 1920s.'

– Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

'Anita Anand’s remarkable and brilliantly researched non-fiction thriller, The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge and the Raj, [is] well-written, contains new research and breaks much fresh ground... Anita Anand focuses on one extraordinary story that had never been properly told before. Through some remarkable research in archives around the world, Anand has reconstructed much of [Udham Singh's] life.'

– William Dalrymple, Spectator

Gripping from start to finish. Anita Anand is brilliant guide who brings a series of extraordinary – and important – stories to life in this remarkable history.’

– Peter Frankopan, Author of The Silk Roads

'For those looking to question empire in the present day, it is a book that provides many answers. But we are also confident that The Patient Assassin is something more – a genuine historical classic that will be read for decades to come.’

– Rana Mitter, Chair of judges, PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize

'An excellent and important book'

– Mishal Husain, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

'A jaw-dropping true story...Udham Singh [survived] the massacre [at Amritsar] and swore vengeance. Like a real-life Tom Ripley, he assumed multiple identities and bided his time...and shot the former governor of the Punjab through the heart at point-blank range. Rough justice; brutally poetic.'

– Richard Madeley, Spectator

'Briskly plotted, scrupulously even-handed and altogether riveting'

– John Preston, Daily Mail

‘An astonishing story, brilliantly told.’

– Dan Snow

'Anand has turned her meticulous investigative journalism to tracking the life of the formerly shadowy Singh... [she] lures us into an irresistible narrative. It is an engaging story that reads satisfyingly more like a shadow world conspiracy thriller than the exhaustively researched piece of reconstruction that it is.'

– Rachel Holmes, Daily Telegraph

'Fabulous book'

– Jeremy Vine

'A dramatic, fast-paced narrative ... Anand does a meticulous and determined job in tracing [Udham Singh's] steps and debunking more than one theory about him. Anand produces an engaging account of the times and of this unlikely hero. And though gripped by her subject, she does not shirk away from his human failings.'

– Manu Pillai, New Statesman

'Combines interesting details with forensic research and an eye for colour making this little told story into a page turner'

– Mihir Bose, Irish Times

'A great and riveting story…full of remarkable twists and mysteries.'

– The Times

'A revealing look at the brutality and oppression of British rule, and how it seeded the desire for retribution in the hearts of so many Indians….Anand does a stellar job of sketching Singh’s trajectory from orphanage to hangman’s noose, and from obscurity into the pantheon of Indian heroes…Compelling, vivid prose.'

– Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, New York Times Book Review

'Deeply researched ... What makes this book so intense is that it is almost as if the author knows the heart and takes the reader along.'

– Nirupama Dutt, Hindustan Times

'A fascinating book'

– Ronan McGreevy, Irish Times

'Immaculately researched and brutally honest, The Patient Assassin is like a jigsaw puzzle...In telling Udham’s story, Anand throws new light on the bloodiest chapter in the history of British rule in India.'

– Rakshanda Jalil, India Today

'Fascinating stuff!'

– Iain Dale, LBC

'An involving account of a strange and obsessive life'

– Ian Jack, Guardian

'Anita Anand uses the Amritsar Massacre as the backdrop to tell the fascinating story of Udham Singh, a low-caste Punjabi orphan who spent the next 21 years planning to avenge those who were killed at Amritsar by assassinating British officials he believed were responsible.'

– Francis P. Sempa, South China Morning Post

'A gripping, multi-faceted tale of India in the twilight years of the British Empire, about Udham Singh, who bided his time for twenty years until he could exact revenge for the 1919 British massacre of Indians in a public garden…Anand diligently follows the circuitous trail of Singh’s life, piecing together his various aliases, addresses, jobs and international travels…This vivid and meticulously researched account will have readers riveted.'

– Publishers Weekly

'A carefully reconstructed story of political murder that began to unfold a century ago… Anand painstakingly follows [Udham] Singh's long path from the killing fields of India to the Houses of Parliament and that climactic moment… telling, and very well done.'

– Kirkus Reviews

'A rags-to-riches story of a flamboyant man who moved around the world juggling multiple identities, dodging police and intelligence agencies everywhere. It evokes the quiet suspense of a masterful spy novel. A gripping and engaging book...every chapter is unexpected and suspenseful.'

– Saudamini Jain, Hindustan Times

'A revealing look at the brutalityand oppression of British rule...Anand does a stellar job of sketching Singh's trajectory from orphanage to hangman's noose.'

– Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Deccan Herald

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