Chaos reigns – at least in the historiography of the Raj. It was once the consensus among historians that British imperial authority in the Indian subcontinent was secure for at least the century-and-a-half before the Second World War. Recently, however, this narrative has drawn a range of challenges. Prominently, Mark Condos and Jon Wilson have held that British imperial authority was chronically insecure. In their view, the irrational anxiety of generations of British officials produced a chaotic administration with minimal social purchase or ideological coherence. Instead of a confident state capable of acting as it chose, these historians have limned a psychologically embattled one incapable of acting except in the abstract, small scale, or short term. Their bold revision succeeds in dispelling the aura of indomitability that has often surrounded the Raj, and in directing attention to its overlooked discontents and weaknesses. Yet their characterization of the British regime as constantly and pervasively anxious is more an article of faith than a conclusion warranted by evidence. Nor do they explain how, if the regime suffered from permanent ‘chaos’ or ‘insecurity’, it managed to survive for some two hundred years. At the heart of Condos's and Wilson's approach is an effort to bypass texts that results, instead, in misreading them. It is largely by re-emphasizing rigorous textual methods, therefore, that Durba Ghosh offers a compelling alternative approach to the history of state vulnerability and disorder.