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34 Reviews
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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

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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


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47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A readable concise history, 26 Oct. 2001
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
This is a very approachable complete history of india (2000Bc to Present) and to have a book quite as easy to digest about such a large time scale is a rarity. It is very good for beginners to this subject area and is not limited to just the India's boundaries.
I found some very interesting other books from this one about Sankrit Literature and Alexander the Great - this book also has lots of very nice pictures which effectively divide the book into smaller sections, making it even more easy to handle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, but worth the effort, 30 July 2013
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
The book is packed with information, almost too much for the general reader, but nevertheless worth the effort. It is made more difficult by being peppered with non-english words. Although this may be inevitable in a history of a sub-continent encompassing perhaps 100 different languages, it does make the reading more difficult. Some of the meanings can be found in the index, but it is worth having wikipedia handy, and a glossary would have been helpful.

There are some useful and interesting maps, but often places and regions mentioned in the text are not shown on the maps and this can be irritating (a fault not confined to this book).

Overall I was glad to have persevered to the end, and one cannot but be impressed by the scholarship behind it.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed but hard work, 11 Aug. 2007
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This review is from: A India: A History (Hardcover)
There is a staggering amount of detail in this book and the scope, in terms of time period and subject matter covered (e.g. religion, politics etc), is huge. The text in both the hardback and paperback is, as a consequence, rather small.

Unfortunately, I found much of the content rather uninteresting, as it extensively recounts the history of dynasty after dynasty that I was not particularly interested in. There is a good deal of complexity to a number of the topics covered, e.g. development of the Hindu religion, and the authors style is not at all suited to this. Keay's writing is, at times, unnecessarily convoluted and verbose. Some may appreciate the challenge of interpreting this, but I felt that it was rather pretentious. When faced with such difficult subject matter the last thing I wanted was to have to re-read sentences in an attempt to decipher material that could easily have been delivered in a more straightforward fashion.

My interests were far better catered for by the superb 'India after Gandhi' by Ramachandra Guha, but if the history of the subcontinent from the beginning is what you're after then this is probably the book for you. Just bear in mind that it is no small undertaking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive reading, 14 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: India: A History (Kindle Edition)
John Keay writes with an enthusiasm for the subject that everyone's history teacher should have. Covers a huge range in just enough detail to understand the narrative. Great read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, concise (and long), written with love, humour and exasperation, 11 Sept. 2011
By 
Henk Beentje "Henk Beentje" (Kew, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
The book: an introduction to the history of the subcontinent, including much of Pakistan (but not Sri Lanka) and ranging from the mists of history (Harappa, 3000 BC) to 2010. With a 600-page book the halfway mark is the making of the Mughal Empire, 1500-1605; from Independence takes the last 100 pages, and from 1984 to 2010 takes 23 pages. A detailed general study, an introduction for those who do not know much about the subject (like me).

The writer: John Keay studied modern history at Oxford, and has written a range of books on Asian history; his most recent is China, a history (2008).

My opinion: not an easy read, but a very good one if you can persist. I read this in many instalments (it is over 600 pages) and learnt a lot; unusually for a history book it made me laugh as well. Not many authors can do a continental history that is both very readable as well as occasionally funny (jokes! puns!) - this book encompasses a vast amount of information written in elegant, concise paragraphs, with useful maps, lineage graphs of rulers, and clear headings. Not easy - but a triumph of overview. His love for the country shines through as well, especially by the exasperation that comes over in the treatment of the recent past; the final bit, say from Independence, was a proper eye-opener for me, allowing me to make connections I had not realized were there. Great!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good overview, 14 April 2009
By 
Sarah Cashian (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
I had very little knowledge of the history of India when I bought this book, and was hoping I would gain an overview of the enitre history of India. The book delivered. It starts from the very beginning of Indian history and takes the reader right through to the turn of the twentieth century. The book is a battle to get through at times, seemed to wizz through the centuries in places and often doesn't delve into topics too deeply. Although this is to be expected from a book which covers such a large country over such a long time span.

However, I did feel distinctly let down by the abrupt ending of the book. There was no afterward, no hint of the India to come. Whilst the book was published in 2000, there must have been some hint that India would become one of the great emerging economies it is today. Surely this didn't grow from nowhere from 2001 onwards?

Despite this, if an overview of the entire history of India is what you are looking for, this is the book for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A book for historians, 24 May 2013
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A. Rugnetta - See all my reviews
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This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
If you are a teacher or a historian looking for a very academic history this is a good book. It provides detailed information on the writing of ancient histories, information about all of India's dynasties, contemporary history, and reflections about what India is and has been.It is well researched and dense. It is not a book for a novice.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fine, one-volume history, 24 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: India: A History (Kindle Edition)
The best one volume history of the south Asian subcontinent. So why not 5 stars? Because I don't feel the additional chapters of the most recent revision add very much. As the author himself willingly allows, being an account of more recent events, the later chapters lack the perspective which only time can bring. If I could, I'd be happy to give it 4.5 stars.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best potted history of India, 28 Jan. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: India: A History (Paperback)
In my view, this is the best, up-to-date popular history of India available. If - like another reviewer, seemingly - you are looking for a 'Hindu nationalist' take on Indian history to confirm your existing prejudices, then, yes, you'd be advised to try elsewhere. But if you want something that's balanced, considers different interpretations of Indian history, and is not grossly distorted by a current political agenda, Keay's effort stands up pretty well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but very readable, 11 May 2015
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This review is from: India: A History (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this comprehensive and yet very readable book on the history of India. His style and interpretations hit the right notes with me. Thoroughly recommend this book.
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India: A History
India: A History by John Keay (Paperback - 22 July 2010)
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