Best of Indian History

Some of the great non fiction books by Indian authors
India After Gandhi
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India After Gandhi

by Ramachandra Guha

About the book:  Born against a background of privation and civil war, divided along lines of caste, class, language and religion, independent India emerged, somehow, as a united and democratic country. Ramachandra Guha’s hugely acclaimed book tells the full story - the pain and the struggle, the humiliations and the glories - of the world’s largest and least likely democracy. While India is sometimes the most exasperating country in the world, it is also the most interesting. Ramachandra Guha writes compellingly of the myriad protests and conflicts that have peppered the history of free India. Moving between history and biography, the story of modern India is peopled with extraordinary characters. Guha gives fresh insights on the lives and public careers of those longserving Prime Ministers, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. But the book also writes with feeling and sensitivity about lesser known (though not necessarily less important) Indians - peasants, tribals, women, workers and musicians. Massively researched and elegantly written, India After Gandhi is a remarkable account of India’s rebirth, and a work already hailed as a masterpiece of single volume history.


Notes:  A masterpiece from Ramachandra Guha about the ups and downs of the world's largest democracy.

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Discovery of India
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Discovery of India

by Jawaharlal Nehru

About the book:  Jawaharlal Nehru wrote the book ‘The Discovery of India’, during his imprisonment at Ahmednagar fort for participating in the Quit India Movement (1942 – 1946). The book was written during Nehru’s four years of confinement to solitude in prison and is his way of paying an homage to his beloved country and its rich culture. The book started from ancient history, Nehru wrote at length of Vedas, Upanishads and textbooks on ancient time and ends during the British raj. The book is a broad view of Indian history, culture and philosophy, the same can also be seen in the television series. The book is considered as one of the finest writing om Indian History. The television series Bharat Ek Khoj which was released in 1988 was based on this book.


Notes:  Excellent book on India's history. Nehru wrote this book while in prison for India's freedom movement. 'Bharat - Ek Khoj' is a TV adaptation of this book, directed by Shyam Benegal.

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Glimpses of World History
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Glimpses of World History

by Jawaharlal Nehru

About the book:  A Simple Account of the World History 'Glimpses of the World History' is an account of the progress of the world through centuries and ages. This book is a collection of letters that Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to his daughter Indira when he was in various Indian prisons for three years. The letters were meant to introduce her to the world and its history. In the first few letters, Nehru expresses his sadness for not being able to be around his daughter and give her the materialistic gifts that other parents could but he promises to give her a gift that he could afford; in the form of knowledge and wisdom through words that come from the very core of his heart. Nehru wrote 196 letters and covered the history of mankind from 6000 BC to the time he was writing the letters. Tales of Empires A major part of these letters talks extensively about the rise and fall of empires around the world and development of civilizations as well. Nehru talks about the histories of every significant place ranging from Greece in the far West to China in the east. The book talks about the wars that were fought during these years and the greatest revolutions that overthrew established dynasties. Nehru has also written about the legendary leaders and kings who have walked the earth including right from Alexander the Great to Mahatma Gandhi. A Different View Unlike many other books that talk more or less about particular history of specific cultures, this book is a panoramic view of the history of mankind. It talks about the barbarians as well as the well behaved societies in the far west. Nehru has written this book with lot of wit which makes it an interesting read.


Notes:  A series of letters Jawaharlal Nehru sent his daughter, Indira. Was published as a book later.

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The Last Mughal
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The Last Mughal

by William Dalrymple

About the book:  On a dark evening in November 1862, a cheap coffin is buried in eerie silence. There are no lamentations or panegyrics, for the British Commissioner in charge has insisted, 'No vesting will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Mughals rests.' This Mughal is Bahadur Shah Zafar II, one of the most tolerant and likeable of his remarkable dynasty who found himself leader of a violent and doomed uprising. The Siege of Delhi was the Raj's Stalingrad, the end of both Mughal power and a remarkable culture.

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A Corner of a Foreign Field
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A Corner of a Foreign Field

by Ramachandra Guha

About the book:  A Corner of a Foreign Field seamlessly interweaves biography with history, the lives of famous or forgotten cricketers with wider processes of social change. C. K. Nayudu and Sachin Tendulkar naturally figure in this book, but so, too, in unexpected ways, do B. R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, and M. A. Jinnah. The Indian careers of those great British cricketers, Lord Harris and D. R. Jardine, provide a window into the operations of Empire. The remarkable life of India’s first great slow bowler, Palwankar Baloo, provides an arresting new perspective on the struggle against caste discrimination. Later chapters explore the competition between Hindu and Muslim cricketers in colonial India and the destructive passions now provoked when India plays Pakistan. For this new edition, Ramachandra Guha has added a long epilogue bringing the story up to date to cover, among other things, the advent of the Indian Premier League and the Indian team’s victory in the World Cup of 2011, these linked to social and economic transformations in contemporary India. A pioneering work, essential for anyone interested in either of those vast themes, cricket and India, A Corner of a Foreign Field is also a beautifully written meditation on the ramifications of sport in society at large.


Notes:  Another masterly piece of work from Ramachandra Guha, this book shows how sport can influence both social and political history.

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