The culture and history of India fascinates me, however I have always found books on the subject focussed on one or the other ! This book successfully combines the two, giving an in-depth and entertaining account of how the country and people of modern India came to be.
The books is in three sections - the first explaining the complex political events that have shaped the India we now know. This section is long and detailed and I found it a bit hard to read. However, I stuck in and reaped the benefits later. Part of the problem is that the author assumes some understanding of political and cultural layers in India, which are definately unique. If you're interested in politics then I'm sure you would find it much more entertaining.
The other two sections cover the development of the nation and people of India. The account of the impact of partition, which infiltrates every aspect of Indian life, and the nurturing of Indian characteristics, is outstanding. There is so much more to this vast subcontinent than I had ever imagined and certainly even more to discover. These sections are slightly less detailed but extremely entertaining. French clearly has a wealth of knowledge and compassion that he uses to give a very honest and compassionate account.
I needed patience with this book, but it was worth it !