Freedom at Midnight Paperback – 12 Jun 1997
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From the Back Cover
Fifty years ago, seconds after midnight on 14-15 August 1947, the Union Jack, emblazoned with the Star of India, began its final journey down the flagstaff of Viceroy's House, New Delhi. One fifth of humanity claimed their independence from the greatest empire history has ever seen. But 400 million people were to find that the price of freedom was partition and war, riot and murder.
In this new edition of their superb reconstruction of events at the time, Collins and Lapierre recount the eclipse of the fabled British Raj and examine the roles enacted by, among others, Mahatma Ghandi, Lord Mountbatten, Nehru and Jinnah in its violent transformation into the new India and Pakistan.
'Thrilling…staggers the imagination'
'There is no single passage in this profoundly researched book that one could actually fault. Having been there most of the time in question, I can vouch for the accurate of its general mood. It is a work of scholarship, of investigation, research and of significance.'
JAMES CAMERON, 'New York Times'
'The song of India… illuminated in scenes like a pageant.'
'A heroic tale that has not been told a tenth as well before… It will give more non-Indians more knowledge of the vast circumstances surrounding the birth of India than anything previously written. With an instinct for drama and a skill in narration, the authors take the reader from Whitehall to Delhi, to Calcutta, to Lahore, to Pula, to the villages of the Punjab and Bengal; their hold on the reader never falters.'
JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH
About the Author
The enormous success of the international writing partnership of Collins and Lapierre is based on the phenomenal non-fiction bestsellers OR I’LL DRESS YOU IN MOURNING, IS PARIS BURNING? and O JERUSALEM! More recently Lapierre wrote CITY OF JOY (about Calcutta) and Larry Collins has written a number of thrillers published by HarperCollins (FALL FROM GRACE, MAZE and BLACK EAGLES). Lapierre is French, Collins American.
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Top customer reviews
Gives you details about houw indians got independence from British.
The writer made a good case for Gandhi and very cleverly pictured that what one man had done (N Godse) that many badly wished for. Either the Writer or the Translator chose words with utter contempt ie. 'Pathetic Indians' or 'Hindu Zealots' etc.
Instead of writing 'Hindus' the term 'non-Muslim' or 'non-Christean' would have been more appropriate. I expected an Interview from Gandhi's eldest son about his farther that I did not get. Its clear that 'All Indian Radio' made Gandhi famous. Bose's name was mentioned only once in the entire book.
Many historians and scholars understood and admitted that then weak British empire backed off facing tremendous pressure from Subhash Bose and his INA who wanted to take the freedom rather than getting a handover like Gandhi had, yet only Gandhi was mentioned and credited for the 'Freedom". It may not be the writers' opinion but that's what it read.
Mountbatten was always named with his full title whenever he was mentioned but Indian characters were not. A non Indian would find Indians no different from Africans and perhaps compare Godse with Idi-Amin dada!! Its very clear from the wording that Indian's were looked down upon given their physical structure shorter than occidentals exactly as Churchill perceived. It proves ignorance.
The way, Nehru and Jinnah were pictured was rather childish. It felt like whenever a child gets hurt cries out for his/her mother, as these two cried out for Mountbatten. The book talks about only a few characters among 350 million Indians as protagonists, who supposedly brought India her freedom.
This book is not a pure investigative journalism, its tainted with opinion, that I found slavish and uncultivated. Its quite alike a book written by Beverly Nichol in his book called verdict on India, who though had understood India in a year.
I surely give some credit to the Writers for mentioning that some princedom were better managed than English ruled areas and story of Buta Singh that I found 100 time more heart wrenching that Italian Romeo-Juliet.
Its true that a lot of hard work has gone into writing it and its a good read particularly first 400 pages and later it went very detailed.
The worst flaw I found was the often nauseating portrayal of Lord Mountbatten which makes him look like an Adonis-type: a leader of men, a winner of wars etc. Although some of those claims may be partially true I cringed at how much the authors of this book focused on anecdotes that seem grossly exaggerated. This also calls into question the portrayal of the other major players in the book - especially those of Jinnah, Nehru, and sometimes Gandhi.
Some parts of the book are very moving - particularly the plot and eventual success of the assassination of the Mahatma - which gives credit to the skill of the authors. (which credits my giving it 3* over 2* or 1*).
If you can swallow the biases, the book does act as a very good introduction to the story, but I highly recommend immediate further reading to elaborate on some elements of the book (as they often feel too good to be true).
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