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on 1 June 2011
As a young man I knew an old Indian Army colonel who told me a fascinating yarn about a ghost story while he was travelling in the Naga hills. When I saw this book I knew I had to read it. It is beautifully written by an author with a great knowledge of Naga people and their culture. He covers their history, their great bravery in W.W 11 and their struggle with the encroaching "modern" world. Internecine warfare, the wish to be self-governing and the desire by outsiders to exploit Nagaland's many natural resources make this a sad mix of progress and the changing of a proud people's tribal culture.
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I struggled hard with this book and found it excellent late night reading as my eyes started to droop after a few paragraphs.

A few times the author refers in passing to travelling to Nagaland via a long trek down from the foothills of the Himalayas, and that is the book I wish this one had been. He hints at having special access but it is never pursued or described.

Instead this is a meandering, repetitive account, interspersed with tales of how Australian Aborigines, locals in Provence and Jordan, treat the author as an intimate, not a run of the mill tourist. There is a strong impression that he longs to be a Wilfred Thesiger, or Gavin Young - but we never really get under the skin of the Nagas, and in fact with their headhunting, internal squabbling ("tearing themselves apart") and eating and using feathers from birds that "would be extinct by the end of the day" I found them unappealing. There was an almost unsuitably gleeful tone to the suggestion that they still practice headhunting today as if it were a trifling peccadillo.

From about page 130 the book does greatly pick up interest, with the onset of the second world war. I am sure it is meticulously and lovingly researched and the book convinced me that the Nagas have been shabbily treated.
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on 9 April 2013
This book was not quite what I expected. I thought it would be more like a travel work, but it is in fact a thorough history of the Naga area in North Eastern India, an area which few people, even in India, know much about. The area has a troubled history, at least since outsiders have taken an interest in it, and it also has a troubled present.
The book is very well researched, both by the author's personal visits, and his reading of others who have loved or been interested in the area and it's people.
The book probably doesn't make easy reading for many Indians, because of India's attempts to pacify the region, which doesn't want to a part of India, or part of anything else, for that matter.
It is a little dense at times, and can feel a bit heavy, but it is worth persevering. You will learn much about a part of India that is little known. By the end, you do feel as if the future of the area is very uncertain.
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on 12 May 2014
I recommend this excellent book on Nagaland and the Nagas - very well written in a absorbing style with fascinating information on this beautiful land of colourful people. One of the best travel/ historical books I have read for a long time. The forgotten Nagas who fought in Slim's Fourteenth Army and those civilians that risked and in many cases gave up their lives for the British Allies have never received the accolades that they richly deserve.
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on 6 June 2012
This is a fascinating and little-known part of India. Nagas have been seeking their independence for over 150 years, first from the Raj and now from India.

I bought this book because of the interest of the topic and because I seem to recall that the extract in The Guardian (Jonathan Glancey is/was their architecture correspondent) was beautifully written.

Unfortunately I found the writing in the book itself treacly, with too many howevers, buts, and subsidiary clauses.

Still, I'd like to be able to see the landscapes he describes.
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on 22 July 2013
The book is a very detailed introduction to Nagaland, ideal for people with little or no background knowledge of the troubled region.

There are two problems with India, its aggressive insistence on patriotism from each minority which intertwines dangerously with the lack of desire to deal with communal-ism. India refuses to deal with any community differences, preferring to hide behind nationalistic wall. And this nationalism is pretty much tinged in a Hindu culture. Just to quote from the book, 'If India were to open the borders of Nagaland to foreigners, it would very probably be for the better rather for the worse. There will never be a flood of tourists to this difficult if bewitching terrain, and yet an exchange of ideas, dreams, values, medical aid and joint-venture projects between Nagas and people from different corners of the world could well enable it to feel less persecuted, less suspicious of outside influences, and even allow it to flourish.'

For me the Indian policy of pumping people and money into Nagaland is working along-with the severe infighting between various Naga militias.
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on 6 January 2013
an informative and balanced book about nagaland and the nagas, their culture, customs and relationships with Britain and now India. Glancey has a feel for the people, has travelled widely in the country but avoids taking sides in disputes with India.
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on 31 July 2012
For anybody thinking of making a journey into Nagaland or have a academic interest in the area this book is for you.
Well researched and an easy read with a comprehensive bibliography.
This is not a travelouge but explains what makes Nagaland the place it is today.
Comprehensive and insightful on a relatively little known country
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