Regarding good overall books for the Indian Mutiny, please find below an excerpt from the historiography section of my "The Raugh Bibliography of the Indian Mutiny, 1857-1859," which is being published this week by Helion & Co. As an aside, the actual book is 904 pages long, not 528 pages as listed on Amazon.com; also, footnotes (totaling 206) are included in the historiography, but not in the excerpt below):
Popular English-language general histories of the Indian Mutiny have also become an established addition to recent Indian Mutiny historiography. Prominent among these is Christopher Hibbert’s The Great Mutiny: India, 1857. Hibbert’s masterly one-volume narrative incorporates “as much hitherto unpublished material [as he had] been able to find.” With a keen eye for detail matched with a clear, elegant writing style, Hibbert fully integrates the detailed writings and voices of numerous Indian Mutiny participants -- soldiers, civilians, family members, survivors -- although they are mainly British, due to a paucity of primary source material from the frequently illiterate Indian sepoys and natives, thus skewing the narrative. These multifaceted threads are woven by Hibbert into a dynamic tapestry characterized by fear and uncertainty, rebellion, horrific massacres, and frightful retribution, juxtaposed with frequently confusing and contradictory situations and emotions, evoking the spirit of the times during this pivotal event in British imperial and Indian history. This vivid, easy-to-read chronicle, while fascinating and panoramic, basically adds nothing new to one’s understanding of the causes or nature of the Indian Mutiny, although Hibbert does conclude, “[t]he Mutiny, in fact, was not so much a national revolt as the culmination of a period of unrest, ‘a last passionate protest against the relentless penetration of the west.’”
Two additional recent general Indian Mutiny histories are Saul David’s 2002 The Indian Mutiny and Julian Spilsbury’s 2007 book of the same name. David’s study is well-researched and written, fast-paced, and full of detail. It is based on his 2001 doctoral dissertation, “The Bengal Army and the Outbreak of the Indian Mutiny.” Spilsbury’s traditional book, on the other hand, covers the same topic with a similar journalistic flair, and covers the military details of the Indian Mutiny with a deft hand. Spilsbury possibly used the same sources as Hibbert and David, although this cannot be determined, since his book contains no notes, references, or bibliography, to permit the scholarly verification of sources and point the way for further research -- thus reducing its overall value. Another recent addition to the Indian Mutiny historiography is Rosie Llewellyn-Jones’ 2007 The Great Uprising in India in 1857: Untold Stories Indian and British. Her aim in writing this book is to attempt “to integrate the military events of the Uprising with the breakdown, and subsequent restoration, of civilian administration that took place across northern Indian when the ‘Wind of Madness’ shook the foundations of British rule,” focusing on “many of the previously unnamed Indian participants in the Uprising.” The author achieves a measure of success in attaining her goal, especially in the sections dealing with individual British and Indian participants in the Indian Mutiny (many of whom have been anonymous); those Britons who, for whatever reason, joined the rebels in fighting the British; and the chapter on the role of the East Indian Company’s prize agents. While her coverage of military events and the “greased cartridge” issue are not as solid as David’s or Spilsbury’s, and a number of her vignettes are not as “untold” as one would imagine, this is an interesting volume.
Another book I would recommend is T.A. Heathcote's Mutiny and Insurgency in India, 1857-1858: The British Army in a Bloody Civil War (Barnsley, S. Yorks: Pen & Sword Military, 2007).