Customer Reviews


34 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coverage
Being an Indian myself, I have gone through our history labouriously over the 10 years in primary schooling. This book covers it all exceedingly well and also relates too other civilizations / events around the world.
Nowhere did I find it wanting for details.
There were several eyeopeners as the history was narrated in stark impartial reality - so it was...
Published on 7 Jan. 2010 by S. Siddhanta

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tough going but a jewel in some ways
The style is dry and academic. It's a tough read with many many places, people and periods that you are unfamiliar with. But I guess if you want a panoramic view of such a vast subject then you have to accept it won't be easy. I've decided to read it in two halves as I didn't think I could get through the whole 600 pages in one go. It's a real pity that there is so little...
Published 23 months ago by Jay


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coverage, 7 Jan. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
Being an Indian myself, I have gone through our history labouriously over the 10 years in primary schooling. This book covers it all exceedingly well and also relates too other civilizations / events around the world.
Nowhere did I find it wanting for details.
There were several eyeopeners as the history was narrated in stark impartial reality - so it was refreshing after being misled by the grandeurs depicted on some dramatised versions on Indian TV.

The only fallback is that the language is a bit complex and is not suited for continuous and smooth reading. I think this has been mentioned by one more reviewer. Some may also find it too detailed as it takes great pains to cover all events and dynasties, and justify the conclusions by stating archelogical evidences.

However, I do not regret buying it and will recommend to anyone who wishes to get an idea of Indian history.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tough going but a jewel in some ways, 23 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
The style is dry and academic. It's a tough read with many many places, people and periods that you are unfamiliar with. But I guess if you want a panoramic view of such a vast subject then you have to accept it won't be easy. I've decided to read it in two halves as I didn't think I could get through the whole 600 pages in one go. It's a real pity that there is so little accessible history on pre-Empire India. If you do get this book, I would encourage you also to get (as I did) the BBC documentary "The story of India" by Michael Wood on DVD. This may just help add a bit of colour and picture to Keay's book. I may have been a bit mean only giving this 3 stars. The positives are that the author has tried not to compromise on detail and opinions backed with evidence.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, fast-paced yet scholarly book, 2 Jun. 2009
By 
Amit Guha (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
If you think that history books you read at your school in India were a bit boring you must read this book! John Keay has condensed more than 2000 years of the complex and intricate history of the subcontinent into a few hundred very interesting pages.

Yet a lot of intense research has gone into this book and that will make you rethink and question the assumptions you took for granted. Did the Aryans really sweep through the mountains and push the Indus valley people south, or was it a gradual process of assimilation? How did the religion of the Vedas gradually morph into the complex, diverse Hinduism we know today?

This book delves into the complex personalities and lives of Mughal rulers like Akbar and Aurangzeb rather than repeat the one-sided views popularized in school history books.

A wonderful introduction to the many dynasties and personalities of Indian history and a great starting point to explore specific regional or dynastic histories further.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars India in a single volume, 3 Oct. 2003
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
Keay manages to compress thousands of years of history into 500 or so pages in this single-volume history. It is a very useful guide to the history of this fascinating nation and allows the reader to look right back to the classic Sanskrit literature and ancient civilisations, through to the modern wonders of the information technology boom of the nineties. India is a land of contrasts and Keay provides enough detail for the book to be useful, without getting mired in differing interpretations. If you want to understand modern India then it is essential to have some idea of where the nation developed from, this book is a great help.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, 4 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: India: A History (Kindle Edition)
I am very fond of India and its culture and spiritual outlook on world. I got this book on recommendation of a friend and I gotta say it's amazing. The book is very factual it's written in very easy to read/follow style. I was very suprised how nicely the book flows. Though author is not into 'religions' I personally feel that he gives very nice and comprehensive explanation what were the circumstances like and how the religions/culture of India got changed over centuries without being judgimental. I think everybody who is intersted in India, yoga students/student/followers of easter religions should read this book to see how it all came about and how religion and culture got interpreted over centuries.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommend this for anyone wanting to know more details about Indian history, 21 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
I strongly, strongly recommend this book for it's breadth AND depth -- it gives you a comprehensive picture of Indian history from Harappan times until the modern era.

This is also written in a very lucid and extremely readable style.

Anyone who wants to know a little or a lot about India should read this -- it belies simple answers given to questions like "the British Raj", "Moslem rule" etc.

A must read in my opinion
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More readable than other reviewers say!, 25 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
I should explain that I only read the second half of this book, from about 1600 when the British became involved. I bought it because I wanted to know more about the British East India Company, and also wanted an overview of the history since partition.

For these purposes the book was great.

On Amazon.co.uk many reviews refer to the book being hard work to read, and many American reviews describe it as dry.

I found it neither, although it did take me thirty or forty pages to tune into the author's style, which is really high-grade journalism, not to question his scholarship. It reads like an articulate lecture by someone who thoroughly understands his subject.

One reviewer said you need some prior knowledge. Perhaps you do. I came to the book with knowledge of post-independence India being only what I had gleaned from newspapers over the years, but that was enough. I had also many years ago read Gandhi's autobiography, which is a book that sticks in the mind.

Regarding the East India Company and the development of British rule, Keay dispels any notion of the British as avuncular colonists. When push came to shove they were decisive and at times brutal. We Brits like to appear as nice imperialists. Effective yes; nice, not unless it was convenient.

Having said that the Brits and Indians appear to have had a certain mutual regard.

The story since independence is complex and fast-moving and I felt Keay told the story with conviction. He doesn't burden his text with footnotes, jargon or prevarication and plonks his opinion down on the page, which is just as well given how much he has to tell.

He has a tendency to try and see the positive in authoritarian actions by different rulers, for example Indira Gandhi and Bhutto. Gandhi instituted a rule of emergency but according to Keay she did it temporarily in order to sort out a raft of administrative disasters, which she did before returning the country to democracy.

I enjoyed what I read of this book very much and would recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A massive, balanced overview of political evolution across South asia, 11 April 2014
By 
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
Keay's history is incredibly detailed, with so much that was new to me that I felt like a complete ignoramus. It's also a very disciplined, focused history. Keay shuns speculative reflection, sticks to the available evidence, orders things chronologically, and focuses on matters of governance far more than on culture or ecology. This means he has fairly little to say concerning the epic pre-Maurya past, but gives massive detail on the political life of all major historic administrations. Although the writing often shows a masterful touch of dry wit, it can be so fact-oriented as to be literalistic, as in the explanation that the difference between Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhists was that the Hinayana sect regarded the Buddha as a teacher, while the Mahayana sect deified him as a god.

In treating the history of post-independence India, Keay gives a more wide-ranging, reflective series of essays. Also, the book does not narrow it's focus with partition to India alone. Instead, the post-partition states of Pakistan and Bangladesh share equivalent attention. Save for the omission of Sri Lanka, the book could easily be called "South Asia: A History." Concerning the modern rise of ethnic exclusivity and cultural supremacism, Keay waxes deeply pessimistic. He documents the horrors of this trend unstintingly, and only pulls up for a hopeful ending in the last few pages.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete, Fluent and Colourfull, 30 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
I bought this book because in a couple of months I'm going backpacking through India and I would like to have some notes of the history of India before leaving. This book gave me everything I needed, it sets the events in the right perspective, doesn't sum up a list of chronological but boring events. It gives you a well documented view of how life in India looked like in the past ages.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb introduction to the history of India, 11 April 2006
By 
Darren Simons (Middlesex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
For a book that is over 500 pages long, it may seem strange for me to suggest this is an introduction to the history of India. However, given the breadth of information Keay is trying to include in one single book, I think introduction is about right.
I read this book as I was interested to get an impartial view on the history of India, the origin behind its culture, its religion, its empires and how this has all combined to make India the country it is today. Keay delivers this superbly, in a very well researched book which does not include any arrogance on the part of the author in terms of the expected knowledge of its reader. He does not at any point indicate to me a particular bias to a religious or cultural view which makes the book all the better to read.
Like many books charting the history of a country, I did find the level of detail on the past 100 years slightly rushed but that is my only criticism of a book I found thoroughly enjoyable to read.
Definitely recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

India: A History
India: A History by John Keay (Paperback - 22 July 2010)
£9.74
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews