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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight at nearly both a human and a practical level
"Partition is a lasting lesson of both the dangers of imperial hubris and the reactions of extreme nationalism".

Ms. Khan's account of the destruction (and a little of the re-emergence) of stable feelings of belonging in South Asia is both searing in narrative and reflective of the dangers of haste at the top, both British and indigenous, to ordinary people...
Published on 12 Sep 2007 by Angus Cunningham

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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed
I bought this book after reading a positive review in the Economist. I am not sure why it has attracted such stellar reviews everywhere. The prose I found uninspiring. The narrative throws no new light on the history of the partition. Yes, it does focus a great deal on the experience of the common man, but I don't see what makes this book deserving of such praise.
Published on 1 Dec 2007 by Miran Ali


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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight at nearly both a human and a practical level, 12 Sep 2007
By 
Angus Cunningham "Insight Development & Leade... (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"Partition is a lasting lesson of both the dangers of imperial hubris and the reactions of extreme nationalism".

Ms. Khan's account of the destruction (and a little of the re-emergence) of stable feelings of belonging in South Asia is both searing in narrative and reflective of the dangers of haste at the top, both British and indigenous, to ordinary people compelled to live with the consequences of inadequately and simplistically visualized change. So much of the published history to date in English of the events before, during, and after Partition is about the dilemmas of the well-known figures who brought on, or tried to navigate, the always difficult passage from colonial empire to swaraj, self-rule. Ms. Khan takes a very valuable and radically different approach. Her book's narrative themes are developed from comments by, for the most part, middle class people contending with monstrous waves of fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, agony, and desperation.

The Great Partition tells how the ideas of Pakistan and swaraj triggered calamities that, with today's knowledge of cultural, linguistic, and religious development paths, could have been predicted. That they were not then is testimony to how much has since been learned by innumerable social scientists working in subjects barely conceived in the late 1940s as Pakistan and India began to emerge as independent states. Ms. Khan has rendered not only all those affected by Partition, but anyone charged with or aspiring to leadership, a service of great value. That she should be so young is especially good news, for what depth and breadth of insight can we expect from her next?

Missing still, at least to this reviewer, is a book that links the financial and political circumstances of Atlee's and Truman's governments to the horrendously unexpected and in due course calamitous decision of Mountbatten in early June 1947, when he announced -- to the surprise of virtually everyone around him -- that the dates of both Partition and Independence would be only 2-1/2 months ahead into what already was clear would be a riotful future.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction, 6 Aug 2008
An excellent history of the partition and somewhat uniquely the author tries make this a social history. The intricacies of deal nor the personal politics of the big players are not covered but you do get a sense of what the situation was like on the ground. However Yasmin Khan seems to get stuck between writing a full social history and straight forward linear one and as a result we sometimes only get a glimpse of both. Ideally this book should be slightly longer and focus more on what was happening on the ground, as it stands it makes for an excellent introduction to the subject though we are left wanting for more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The human element of partition, 27 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (Paperback)
This book is fantastic as its one of those rare one that includes the storied of ordinary citizens in the partition of India. The book focuses primarily on the partition of Punjab and Bengal but also covers a lot of the violence in places such as Delhi, Bombay, Nagpur, UP, etc. A very balanced opinion is given where Hindu's Muslims and Sikhs are blamed for the violence. Not even in their wildest nightmares could the British have imagined what was to come when date for British withdrawal was announced. As you would expect there are many stories of savagery and acts that can only be classed as evil. But in amonst those are also stories of people who protected and saved communities from another religion. The interesting thing to come out quite clearly in this book was that muslims were glad the partition had been agreed but those who lived on the wrong side of the border never imagined for a moment that their area wouldn't be in the newly create Pakistan. Up until that point the border was imagined by most to include vast expanses of land which never materialised. The distrust of Congress and the Muslim League comes through very clearly and goes to show that partition was inevitable once the trust had vanished.
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5.0 out of 5 stars appreciation of the book of '' THE GREAT PARTITION : THE MAKING OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN, 3 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (Paperback)
i am delighted to have a copy of this book as i want to know all about the partition of india as much as possible from an authentic impersonal & honest historian. i am very very much impressed with the lucid style of the writing of english of the authoress. i have not finished reading the whole book yet. so i would like to send you another note of appreciation later.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freedom and Fragmentation, 26 Dec 2009
By 
S Wood (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (Paperback)
Partition and independence were not an unusual combination as the British Empire gradually came apart during the 20th century. This process was in large part rooted in the Divide and Rule policy that helped turn what had been a small peripheral European country in the 16th century into the largest Empire the world had seen by the 19th. In Ireland and Palestine it was colonies of Protestants and Jews that partitioned off sections of the country from their original Catholic and Palestinian inhabitants. India was never colonised as such, but amongst the rich tapestry of its people the two largest communities were the Hindus and Muslims. The British played on and formalised the differences between those communities as well as others to aid the holding of their Indian Empire. When the Empire was no more these populations had different expectations and desires as independence came into view; it is the disastrous conflict between those expectations that form the core of Yasmin Khans interesting history of partition.

The book tells the story of Partition at a number of levels from the top level discussions between the Indian and British political establishments to personal accounts of those whose lives were effected by the tumultuous experience of partition. The account focuses primarily on the situation in the Punjab where a large Sikh population was an additional complexity when it became clear that India was likely to be partitioned. Bengal also receives coverage along with the experiences of Muslims in northern India who were to be outside Pakistan. Kashmir and Sindh receive less attention along with the North West Frontier Province which I was surprised to learn was a Congress stronghold.

The narrative is admirably even handed which is to say no side comes out of it well though Ghandi and Nehru certainly are more attractive politicians than Jinnah who doesn't seem to have thought through how partition would work in practice despite its theoretical appeal. The British were in a hurry to leave and made a hash of the difficult task of dividing the sub continent between Pakistan and India: an inevitable outcome of rushing it through in roughly 6 weeks. For the first time in 2 centuries the British army and administration seemed indifferent to disorder unless (of course) British subjects were threatened. The Indian army was split in two at the time it was most required to maintain order, extremist Hindu and Muslim middle class politicians stoked up fear and hatred and grotesque violence swept across northern India leaving up to a million dead and well over 10 million displaced.

Yasmin Khan, who was only 30 when she wrote this book, doesn't deliver an all encompassing history of partition but provides a reasonable narrative of the events with more specific anecdotal examples and some thoughtful analysis. She is especially nuanced about the ways in which partition affected different classes and localities, the horrendous experience of woman and the variety of efforts that the new Indian and Pakistani governments dealt with the millions of refugees. I did find it occasionally confusing as the narrative, anecdotes and analysis seemed to get a little mixed up and I was left with the feeling that the book could have been better organised. In short, the book is not a comprehensive history of partition but one that certainly gives the reader an insight into what happened and why it happened. Despite its short comings I look forward to Yasmin Khans next book.
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed, 1 Dec 2007
By 
Miran Ali "I don't like anonymous reviewers" (Dhaka, Bangladesh) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book after reading a positive review in the Economist. I am not sure why it has attracted such stellar reviews everywhere. The prose I found uninspiring. The narrative throws no new light on the history of the partition. Yes, it does focus a great deal on the experience of the common man, but I don't see what makes this book deserving of such praise.
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7 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Historians still get this history of Partition wrong...., 3 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (Paperback)
1. I was flicking through this book and I found it that like most books about the partition it misses out Sindh.

2. Unlike Punjab and Bengal which were split into two between India and Pakistan. All of Sindh ended up in Pakistan.

3. At first there was not much violence in Sindh, but when Muslims from India came into Sindh, these (non-Sindhi) Muslims cause problems for the Hindus.

4. Hindu Sindhis where forced to leave everything behind. Many hoped to return to their homeland, once the violence died down but it was not possible. Many of the Hindu homes were occupied were looted and taken over by Muslims.

5. Today, the Hindu Sindhis are a stateless people. They don't have a homeland or state of their own and have had to spread all over India and scattered throught out the world. So this has consequences like the language and culture is dying....

6. Unlike Punjab and Bengal which were split into two. Not a Single portion of Sindh was given to India. Some 25% of the population of Sindh was Hindu. They contributed significantly to the economy of Sindh before partition.

7. I feel annoyed at many of today's historians, because they seem to get the history of the Parition wrong. They miss Sindh out altogether in their writtings. Even a BBC documentory on the 60th anniversary Parition of India, missed out Bengal, Kashmir and Sindh.

8. Most Hindu Sindhi focused on rebuilding their lives from scratch in India rather then correcting history.

9. Historian should see that Sindhi Hindus and Sindhi Muslims lived side by side in peace and harmony. And there was mutual respect for each others religions. And certainly a good role model.

10. What is of concern today in Pakistan today, they have re-written history to say Hindus 'left for the promised land' - not sure where they get this happy tale from?. But historians such as Yasmin Khan should correct history....

11. If anyone wants to read personal accounts of those who had to flee Sindh, should look at "Sindhi Reflections by Lata Jagtiani". It is an excellent book. Sorry, it does not have an ISBN and is publised in Mumbai.
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The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan
The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan by Yasmin Khan (Paperback - 8 Aug 2008)
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