Glowing reviews for book published by recent History PhD graduate

Benjamin Kingsbury has published a book based on his doctoral dissertation about the Bengal cyclone of 1876, at the time “the worst calamity of its kind in recorded history.”

Photo of Benjamin Kingsbury
Benjamin Kingsbury, who recently graduated with a PhD in History, has published his first book. Photo credit: VUW Image Services.

The School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations is pleased to announce that Benjamin Kingsbury, who graduated in early 2016 with a PhD in History, has recently published a book based on his doctoral dissertation.

The book, titled An Imperial Disaster: The Bengal Cyclone of 1876, analyses this understudied yet hugely significant event. The Bengal cyclone of 1876 killed as many as 215,000 people, and was the worst calamity of its kind in recorded history.

While such events are often described as “natural disasters,” the book argues that the 1876 disaster was also shaped by all-too-human patterns of exploitation and inequality.

Moreover, the book has an important contemporary message: as Bangladesh and other low-lying countries face rising sea levels and stronger, more frequent storms, there is every reason to revisit past calamities and try to learn something from them.

Reviews for Kingsbury’s work have been highly positive. Nandini Gooptu, Associate Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford, described the book as a “comprehensive, meticulously detailed, carefully researched and nuanced analytical account … a remarkable scholarly achievement.” At Harvard University, Sunil Amrith, Professor of South Asian Studies and Professor of History, praised it as being “elegantly written, deeply moving, humane, angry without being polemical … one of the most compelling historical reconstructions of a climatic disaster that I’ve read.”

An Imperial Disaster is published by Hurst Publishers in the UK and Oxford University Press in the United States. It will also be published in India.

While studying for his PhD, Kingsbury was supervised by Professor Sekhar Bandyopadhyay and Dr Pauline Keating. After finishing the thesis, he lectured on Indian and British imperial history at Victoria University, before moving to India to study Bengali.

Kingsbury noted his gratitude for the teaching and supervision he received from the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, and for the financial support of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Victoria Doctoral Scholarship, and the NZ India Research Institute.

Find out more, including ways to purchase the book, here.

Benjamin’s success is another clear recognition of the quality of teaching and research at the History Programme at Victoria University. Read about Dr Sarah Pinto who also recently graduated with a PhD in History and is publishing her first book here.