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A India: A History Hardcover – 25 Aug 2000
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Offers an in-depth look at the history of India through a chronological review of the major events that transformed its diverse cultures and traditions.
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To begin with, the early part of the book covering the ancient times is perhaps the most difficult to follow, but when one reaches around AD 1,000 it becomes more readable.
The early years, chronicling the early settler civilizations such as the Aryans and the Dravidians at times resemble a travelogue, and one may find themselves lost as some of these peoples are not adequately characterized.
Perhaps the most monumental figure of ancient India, Ashoka, gets too little mention. He does receive a chapter, but such a key figure deserves much greater depth.
Having said this, the book becomes far more readable and informative when it reaches the Mughal Empire, and the coverage of the British conquest, rule and ultimately independence is superbly done.
A particular strength is that Keay does not take the easy way out post 1947 and simply chronicle the Republic of India, rather he gives a full coverage of the key events shaping all 3 successor states, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It must be said that Keay's chronicling of the modern history of the Indian subcontinent is superb, and if he follows through with a modern history of India (a possibility he hints at in the introduction) I will certainly read it.
However, the book, as a complete history of India succeeds, and delivers a reasonably objective and impartial account.
For those who are interested purely in modern India, this book is still highly recommended as the modern section is superb.
However, any enthusiast of India should at the very least attempt John Keay's chronicle of this spellbinding civilization.
Highly recommend this to academics and mainstream readers alike.
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
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