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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great breadth of topics but focussed on political history
I learned a lot about the recent history of this intriguing country from this book. Much of the coverage is devoted to political history and many of the other topics that are discussed, e.g. wars with Pakistan and China, communal violence, economic development, secessionist movements etc are also framed in a political context. Content that I particularly enjoyed reading...
Published on 30 Jun. 2007 by Overseas Reviewer

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Must be read with objective views.
It is important to read with objective view point. What author states regarding Indian politics reflects his perception. Especially when we consider India has been virtually lead by a monopoly in one way or another by the Congress party, reading and gathering information from other books from different authors is essential for academic, and intellectual pursuit. As usual,...
Published 16 months ago by Adlerinternational


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great breadth of topics but focussed on political history, 30 Jun. 2007
I learned a lot about the recent history of this intriguing country from this book. Much of the coverage is devoted to political history and many of the other topics that are discussed, e.g. wars with Pakistan and China, communal violence, economic development, secessionist movements etc are also framed in a political context. Content that I particularly enjoyed reading about included: the development of the constitution, establishment of the federal structure, the relationship between free India and the Princely States, caste and adivasi conflict, and the response to the refugee crisis arising from partition.

`India after Gandhi' is well written, entertaining and packed full of references. In some places the author does appear to adopt a rather partisan position with respect to relations with Pakistan. However, he also very forcefully portrays the challenges faced by the Muslim minority in the country, whom it may be suggested have been the principal victims of the half century of Indo-Pak tension.

I have also read John Keay's `India: A History' and feel that `India After Gandhi' is a far better choice for those seeking an understanding of the country and it's people.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars clear, well researched narrative, 24 July 2007
By 
Oli (London, UK) - See all my reviews
Ramachandra Guha's study presents Indian political and social history.
Much of the material covered within this text is difficult to find in a comparably accessible form elsewhere.
Guha pays detailed attention to metropolitan politics in Delhi, yet provides discussion of regions such as Keralan and Tamil political history. There is an emphasis on political history within Guha's study; however this interest is developed in the broadest sense. The struggles of indigenous peoples in Central India and in the North East of the subcontinent are accessibly presented. The Naga peoples of the North Eastern frontier feature prominently.
A further strength of Guha's book is his discussion of foreign affairs. As might be expected a great deal of attention is given to India/ Pakistan relations (specifically through the Kashmir question) and this is handled well. Guha is attentive too India's situation between superpowers during the Cold War. Washington-Delhi relations are amply covered, as are both Soviet and Sino- Indian affairs.
Guha closes his historical narrative with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and covers the very recent past in a series of thematic essays. These essays read rather differently to the synthesis performed so well throughout the earlier stages of this book yet contain much information about topics as diverse as communal conflict, economic liberalization and public health. Guha places these contemporary thematic discussions in a long term perspective. For those who wish to pursue these themes in greater depth a detailed bibliography is provided.
Overall, this book offers an extremely useful and readable account of post-1947 Indian history.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Independence and India, 8 Sept. 2009
By 
S Wood (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (Paperback)
Ramachandra Guha has written a straightforward narative of the experience of India since Independence in 1947. The focus is primarily on political events but not at the expense of trying to get a view of the bigger picture.

I wouldnt consider it a great book of analysis, but as an introduction to post independence India it is more than adequate. Many colourful characters populate this history, this most admirable being Nehru himself, unfortunately a Hindu extremist knocked off Gandhi not long after the "great adventure" of Indian independence began with the bloody fiasco of partition which itself is covered in some detail. Indira Gandhi (Nehrus daughter) and the authoress of the "emergency" in the mid seventies comes across as arrogant and authoritarian and brimming with sufficient self belief to be more than a nuisance to her country. Her off spring are more or less worse. This is one of the sadder things about post Independence India, the dynasties which ought to be regarded as a degeneration of democracy. Given recent US experience it is not something the West, especially the US, should feel to smug about. More optimistically at least, unlike neighbouring Pakistan, the army has been kept out of politics.

Its hardly suprising that communal relations and all too often violence, regional antagonisms, Kashmir and Pakistan take up a great deal of the narrative. The monstrosity of the caste system is covered, including a photo of an upper caste Hindu immolating himself in defence of his caste privileges - one wonders if those wealthy Brits recently hit by the 50% tax rate will follow his example?

I feel that the author makes too much of the fact that India survived as a democracy, the designation appears purely formal. Monied interests, corrupt politicians rule the roost - the lower castes, tribals (Dalits), rural society have not felt the trickle down effect of Indias high tech sector and have made only sporadic progress over the 60 years since the British left. Political parties seem short on principles and are often communal in nature, this of course is not something particular to India, but from reading Guhas book it is clearly something the Indian political class excels at. The author is unfortunately cool towards the exceptions to this rule such as the Communists in West Bengal and Kerala. I would have thought that the experiences of those States under Communist rule would have been given more space. Alas not.

Having said all that, it is still a very readable narrative history that kept me well and truly hooked over the 750 pages and a good introduction to the experiment that has been independent India. Other books on India after independence that I have found interesting are Tariq Ali's The Nehrus and the Gandhis: An Indian Dynasty and P.Sainath's collection of reportage on rural India Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable, comprehensive and well-researched, 6 Aug. 2009
This review is from: India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (Paperback)
This one of the most readable histories of India post-1948 to the present. Understanding those 60 years is a herculean task in itself but Guha sets himself a greater challenge: he also tries to answer the question of why India survives as a democracy. So many commentators have predicted its demise into anarchy, dragged down by caste, religious, language and ideological tensions.
Guha succeeds in his task by going beyond politics to include a thorough analysis of social and cultural trends, providing a roadmap of the changing Indian psyche. That is what makes this book so different and insightful. It is not just a series of political events but describes India's evolution from a constitutional democracy to a populist democracy.
However there are flaws. Rajiv Gandhi's premiership is the weakest section in the book, dealt with in only 30 pages of this 900 page tome. Rajiv's relative youth and technology-oriented tendencies put the country on a path of modernisation for which the author does not give due credit. We also do not get a clear understanding of the Sri Lankan problem and how it impacts on the history of the subcontinent, not least Rajiv's own assassination at the hands of a Tamil and its impact on the country.
For this reason four stars instead of five for a comprehensive, beautifully written, well-researched, all-encompassing history book that even a lay reader will enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to know about India..this is a must read, 30 Sept. 2008
By 
Akhil Kumar (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Being an Indian and having read numerous books before and during independence struggle, I always wanted to read a book which could tell me what has been happening since Independence..Author is impartial to any particular party, caste or religion. Book has been an eye opener on many of the events that I knew had happened but did not know much about them. Very nicely written..I am finished the book in record time and I am sure you would not want to put it down once you start reading it...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opener, 3 May 2009
By 
Soumitra D. BURMAN (Copenhagen) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (Paperback)
Growing up in the 70's in the political capital of India, a lot of questions about the Union of India remained unanswered. Most importantly how the idea of India was transformed into the union and what makes us tick as a nation given the diversity. This book is truly an eye opener and elements from ths book should be incorporated in the school history syllabi for the future generations to appreciate the journey we as a nation have travelled and to truly understand what we represent. Take my journey as an example: I went to a Catholic missionary boys school with all religions of the world represented in a class of 50 where religion as a subject only came up as part of curriculum. I felt prviliged to be exposed to this diversity resulting in an appreciation and tolerance which is sadly changing in todays India. I hope this book creates a discussion in what we as a nation truly stand for - great book and superb read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Glimpse of hope to disillusioned Indians, 24 Mar. 2014
This review is from: India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (Paperback)
'India after Gandhi' authored by one of the most accomplished historians, Dr. Guha, is nothing short of a masterpiece. It personally gave me immense hope and strengthened my faith in my country's democracy, at a time when I personally think it is going through an all time low; with a leadership crisis at the centre, steadily falling economic growth and sharp increase in incidents of brutality against women.
Detailed history of the nation from 1947 onwards, gives insight into some of the testing and challenging times faced by the country and its people which almost sometimes did bring the nation on the brink of disintegration but somehow we survived and the journey undoubtedly has been rough and patchy but also fulfilling. Dr. Guha is a fantastic story teller, he provides the most gripping account of wars and crises, of rise and fall of our political leaders, of highs and lows of our economy and democracy and upliftment and degradation of its people.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phipty-phipty, 16 Sept. 2009
This review is from: India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (Paperback)
Come to think of it, the USA and India share many features of their past. Both emerged from the colonial experience of the British Empire; both were large and doubled their populations quickly; both have succesfully made the difficult transition from being created by visionaries to being managed by mediocrities. The USA have become a `melting pot' and India has gloriously remained a `salad bowl' with lots of Bollywood movies as lubricating oil. Both have a phipty-phypty chance of making it into the future (phipty-phipty is a telling joke GUHA has borrowed from an Indian movie).

It is worth any student-of-politics' while to read this book, despite its capacitous size, and so follow with bated breath the unfolding of India's unique `tryist with history'. At every step learned pundits about the country's future were proven wrong. Soap operas don't come any better, or last as long. There are rewarding lessons to be learned at every page, foremost that life is deeply unpredictable and we have a real chance of making it to the next turn and twist of fate if we embrace it without reservation.

Few historians have the skills needed to master in turn the telling detail, the overarching yarn, and the proper balance. GUHA is a master in the mold of GIBBON (though he writes better English and has a sense of humour), and he can be gently uplifting without sounding tinny like CARLYSLE.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 8 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (Paperback)
I cannot praise this book highly enough. India is a country of disparate language, religion, class and culture which on paper should not hold together as an individual state-yet it does. This book goes a long way to explaining how this is possible in an accessible writing style and is a must for amateur historians and travel buffs alike.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Concise and well researched, 9 Mar. 2014
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A very good by Ramachandra Guha, his writing grows on you very well. The period between 1950s,1960s, 1980s and 1990s is written very lucidly and with a good deal of original research, but doesn't have the same rigour and doesn't offer much new insight into Emergency. Nevertheless, this is a very important book and is mostly unbiased which makes it a rare book especially for modern history.
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India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy
India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha (Paperback - 1 Aug. 2008)
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