Top critical review
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Not the best book on the subject
on 21 October 2009
This book is not an all balanced reading material. If someone is looking for a launch pad into the innumerable books written on this subject ie the turmoil that lead to the partition of the subcontinent and the chaos that followed it, this is an excellent place to start. Being American and French, the authors seem to be pretty unbiased in their view on the leaders of the subcontinent. Nevertheless, there are rather silly mistakes they do in history which even a school kid from India or Pakistan would know. For example, Asoka was a Buddhist King born in a Jaina family and not an Hindu. The authors use this to emphasis that by using Asoka's wheel symbol on its flag India propelled itself as an Hindu nation. Also they use this point to say that Asoka was a warmonger, which is true but he gave up war and violence pretty early in his reign as Emperor of Mauryas and the wheel emblem itself was erected in honour of Buddha's ideas of peace and ahimsa. This is just but one example that the authors misinterpret history when they draw examples from beyond 1947/48. I am not quoting the other examples since I neither have the time to write an extensive review nor any reader on Amazon would have the time to read. In a nut shell, this is a good book to read as along as you are sure that you are not going to stop with this. This book is better titled "Freedom at midnight: Mountbatten's perspective". If a reader be interested in the other side of the story please read "Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India". Patrick French's book on this subject is said to be good too, but I have never read it so can't actually say much. It probably sold out this many copies oweing to its Jinnah bashing, making him look like a cold emotional person.