Having recently finished reading Ms. Thapar's work on Indian History up to AD 1300 (Penguin), I must conclude that it is a very impressive volume. A great deal of research and study must have gone into the creation of such a remarkable opus. I thought it was all-in-all, very respectful of its subject, and especially effective in peeling away centuries of pre- and mis-conceptions imposed by colonial/western commentators. I did not consider the book, in any way, anti-India or anti-Hindu. Anyway, a few points I will make are as follows:
1. Ms. Thapar introduces many remarkable and unusual ideas at the very start of her book (in my opinion, the best part), such as race being a colonial construction. But, she fails to discuss these adequately, and very often allows her thoughts to pass on to oblivion, rather than to a definite conclusion. Maybe, a "definite conclusion" does not exist, at this point-of-time, but a more in-depth approach would have been preferred (even if it added pages to the book).
2. Secondly, the quotes used on the back cover seem to imply, that this book should be primarily taken as rebuttal to farfetched claims made about Indian history, within India today. I don't think this is how this book should be advertised. It is so much more than just that.
3. The material presented deals primarily with the social, and even economic, history of India. There is a great deal to be found on art, literature, science and architecture. But, my impression was off cultural, social and religious history, rather than political history. I understand that kings do not constitute the alpha and omega of history, but Ms. Thapar barely even mentions kings of influence, such as Kanishka, or even travelers and chroniclers, such as Fa-Hein, in any detail.
4. Along that same line, I do not see why it is advertised to be the history of India up to AD 1300. The political history of the thirteenth century is dealt with in maybe 2 lines, if that. I will be very, very curious to see how Ms. Thapar will start volume 2, using a base as inadequate as this!
5. My greatest reservation about Ms. Thapar's work has to do with her presentation of Sanskrit/Hindi words using the Latin alphabet. She follows the colonial tradition of ending almost all the words with the ritual "a". This may be to account for every consonant in Hindi (vyanjan) having a vowel (svar) attached to it. But, she could have made better use of pronunciation aids such as a line overhead to indicate the drawn-out "aa" sound. Some examples were just absurd, such as "pida" for "pidha"/pain. English is not a very phonetic language at all. However, it appears that Ms. Thapar wishes to inhabit the aural world of the colonialists from about 150-200 years ago, but she must realize that by doing so, she is only selling short her otherwise magnificent work.
6. I should also point out that this book is not as beautiful a read as say, Prof. Basham's wonderful "The Wonder That Was India", or the collection of his 7 lectures, compiled into "The Origin and Development of Classical Hinduism". I will still recommend these books, unreservedly, to anyone with an interest in Indian history or culture. But, Ms. Thapar's book deserves to be read carefully as well.