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1. India: A History
2. A Traveller's History of India
3. A New History of India
4. India: Fourth Edition
5. A Concise History of Modern India
6. The Oxford History of India
7. India After Gandhi: The History
8. The History of India, Vol. 2
9. India: The Definitive History
10. The Penguin History of Early India:
11. A History of India (Blackwell
12. The True History and the Religion
13. The Great Partition: The Making
14. A Brief History of India
15. The History of Pakistan (The Greenwood
16. A History of India: Volume 1 (Penguin
17. A Concise History of India
18. The Illustrated History of South
19. India
20. A History of Ancient and Early

1. India: A History
by John Keay
Paperback: 578 Pages (2001-05-10)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$8.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802137970
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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John Keay's India: A History is a probing and provocative chronicle of five thousand years of South Asian history, from the first Harrapan settlements on the banks of the Indus River to the recent nuclear-arms race. In a tour de force of narrative history, Keay blends together insights from a variety of scholarly fields and weaves them together to chart the evolution of the rich tapestry of cultures, religions, and peoples that makes up the modern nations of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Authoritative and eminently readable, India: A History is a compelling epic portrait of one of the world's oldest and most richly diverse civilizations.Amazon.com Review
The history of what is now India stretches back thousands ofyears, further than that of nearly any other region on earth. Yet,observes historian John Keay,most historical work on India concentrates on the period after thearrival of Europeans, with predictable biases, distortions, andmisapprehensions. One, for example, is the tendency to locate thesource of social conflict in India's many religions--to which Keayretorts, "Historically, it was Europe, not India, which consistentlymade religion grounds for war."

Taking the longest possible view, Keay surveys what is both provableand invented in the historical record. His narrative begins in 3000B.C., with the complex, and little-understood, Harappan period, a timeof state formation and the development of agriculture and tradenetworks. This period coincides with the arrival of Indo-Europeaninvaders, the so-called Aryans, whose name, of course, has been put tobad use at many points since. Keay traces the growth of subsequentstates and kingdoms throughout antiquity and the medieval period,suggesting that the lack of unified government made the job of theEuropean conquerors somewhat easier--but by no means inevitable. Hecontinues to the modern day, his narrative ending withIndian-Pakistani conflicts in 1998.

Fluently told and well documented, Keay's narrative history is of muchvalue to students and general readers with an interest in India's pastand present. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Customer Reviews (54)

1-0 out of 5 stars Vedic Values: The Mythified Aryan
Chapter one presents a good introduction to The Happaran World c3000-1700 bc.However, early in Chapter two (Vedic Values c1700-900 bc), I became very uncomfortable with John Keay's view of the "Aryan problem" or "myth."By the time he began discussing whether the Aryans invaded or simply migrated, I was ready to sell the book and move on.It seemed that John Keay was putting forth the European perspective which culminated in Nazi Germany, by seriously misinterpreting Vedic hymns.

A wealth of evidence for the primacy of India's spiritual culture in the ancient world is presented by Georg Feuerstein, PhD, Subhash kak, PhD, and David Frawley, OMD, in IN SEARCH OF THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION: NEW LIGHT ON ANCIENT INDIA (Wheaton, Ill.: Quest Books, 1995).David Frawley presents a convincing argument that the Aryan invasion / migration never happened!

John Keay gives too little credibility to Romila Thapar, doyenne of ancient India's historians, who said: "It is doubtful whether the term arya was ever used in an ethnic sense."In English, as John Keay says, arya means "moral" "noble" "pure" - yet Keay misses the point: the Vedic hymns which he finds unintelligible are pure, moral, noble - i.e., aryan - India is indeed the mother of Religion, as set forth in THE YOGA OF JESUS, by Paramahansa Yogananda.

John Keay's history of India is for sluggard minds.Opt for David Frawley's instead, or better yet, Paramahansa Yogananda's.

2-0 out of 5 stars Good reference but an unreadable brick.
This book has two good qualities, ok, may be three. First , it is comprehensive and ambitious, it covers from the Harappan civilization to Rajiv Ghandi. That is 5,000 plus years of History. Second, it tries not to take sides even when the author seems to take pains to contrast the historical interpretations for British presence and conquest ( fortuitous intervention on a decaying group of warring kingdoms) with the more explicit and plausible motives of commerce and greed. Everybody acknowledges a lack of documentation on the early stages of Indian historiography and the difficulty of inferring true events form edicts carved in columns and Sanskrit translations so I think the effort is commendable.

This book however is incredibly dry and it might be best used as a reference if at all. Not something you want to read and remain interested. I usually avoid purely Marxist interpretations but the author here goes to the other extreme, for most of the first 300 pages, the whole book is nothing but an effort to chronicle an impossible list of kingdoms and kings, Cholas, Guptas, Mauryas, etc, etc.. . Only when we reach the Mughal phase, do events begin to have some flesh beyond the genealogical details. Sure, there is some mention of Seleucids, Buddhism, Ashoka and other sources of Hindu nationalism, temple construction, ceremonial wars, attempts at unification, dissolution and such but no effort to arrive at some patterns or underlying history. The succession by murder, palatial intrigues and defiance of caste and gender systems are so repetitive one wonders why we are bothering reading any further.

The History of India is so complex and faceted that it defies clean-cut chapters . However, among the endless names and dinasties, patterns of international commerce, migrations due to famine and weather changes, acquisition of technologies and cultural assimilation and rejection seem to be the story we are *not* being told . It is as if, to use an example. European history could be told by just mentioning one king a after another and who or what did they conquer with just a passing mention of the Plague, the fall of Constantinople or the invasion of the goths. Skip this brick. (show less)

4-0 out of 5 stars Even-handed and Enlightening
Tackling 5,000 years of written history is no mean feat - Keay manages to do it well. (That being said, a one-volume history book will only summarise at best.) I really enjoyed reading this book: Keay's approach is scholarly but not overly dry. In at least some passages, characters and places come to life.

I really knew very little about Indian history before reading this book - but now I feel I have gained some valuable information. So by that test, this book is a winner.

One of the themes running through this book is that of precursors for Indian nationalism - or at least, Keay argues, it is difficult to find such precursors. India has always been a jumble of cultures and dominions, which is part of what makes it unique and culturally vibrant, but Indian history is a bad place to look for nationalists looking for a pan-Indian empire.

One small critique: the book ends abruptly. After discussing the twentieth-century contentions between India and Pakistan, the book simply stops. I think a chapter of reflections, or at least some kind of summary (something?) would have been preferable. As it is, I feel like I am missing the last 20 pages.

5-0 out of 5 stars Every person of Indian origin must read this book
This is a very well written book. Every person of Indian origin must read this. I have not read anything as precisely compiled as this in a long time. Reading the book makes me want to go back to India and visit all those places that existed nearby and of whose existence I was never aware of. It is interesting to read the 'history' behind many monuments, palaces, forts and places that we take for granted.

4-0 out of 5 stars India - A Mostly Political History
This is a very balanced attempt on India's history. It seems to be free from any agenda or heavy-handedness. The perspective is still a western one. I liked the prose which flows in most part and does not miss out on humour.

However this is primarily a political history. It is not rich in cultural, religious or economic details. The author starts with a summary of currently accepted conclusions on Indus valley civilization and Aryan migration, and follows up with the early history. He has tried to tackle the perception that India has been historically prone to raids by outsiders. He points out that the typical wars by Indian kings were heavy in symbolism. An Indain conquering army would leave the civilian population and infrastructure of the conquered state unharmed. The conquerer would reinstate the defeated king, extract a share of state revenue and crown himself 'king of kings'.

Such a mindset did not produce a single political entity (like China), and made the serious threat from invaders look transitory. Of course there are other aspects too, for example lack of good horses in India as well as tactically mature and driven invaders.

The treatment of period of East India Company and British subjugation is well-informed. (The author has written a book on the East India Company).

As an Indian reader I look for greater detail on everyday life of regular people, shifts in the economy, and evolution of Indian culture and thought. But that would require a bigger work and it probably exists in one of the numerous references used by the author and in Indian vernacular works. ... Read more

2. A Traveller's History of India (Traveller's History)
by Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda
Paperback: 288 Pages (2002-08)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 156656445X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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India, named after the river Indus, is heir to one of the world's oldest and richest civilizations and the origin of many of the ideas, philosophies, and movements that have shaped the destiny of humankind.

For the traveler, India is both an inspiration and a challenge. The sheer wealth of Indian culture has fascinated generations of visitors. We see the sweeping panorama of Indian history, from the ancient origins of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and the other great religions, through the tumultuous political history of India's epic struggle against colonialism, to the ravages of Partition, Non-Alignment, and, finally, the emergence of India as a powerful modern state still grounded in the literature and culture of an ancient land. A Traveller's History of India covers the whole scope of India's past and present history and allows the reader to make sense of what they see in a way that no other guide book can. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed.
I read a lot of books by Indian authors. I wanted an easy to manage overview of the country's history. This fit the bill perfectly. It is an enjoyable read and, with the index, is a reference book as well.

Check out the "Look Inside" feature at the top of the page to see the details of the book. The author provides maps and illustrations that add to the text. Plus the Chronology of Major Events and Historical Gazetteer were welcome additions.

I highly recommend this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and sufficiant information about Indian history!
This book was very easy to read and likeable! I read it almost in one go and that is unusual because I don't like to read history books.
It was a good preparation for my first trip to India. Helped me to better understand the people and culture. Well done!

4-0 out of 5 stars Just the Ticket
Having suffered through Keay's History of India, this volume was a pleasant surprise. Tammita-Delgoda writes clearly and compellingly. The book is well organized and at the end one has a firm grasp of the major periods of Indian history although the narrative is by necessity terribly compressed. I would recommend it to any travelling to India for as the London Evening Standard writes the book "...provides a useful grounding" for those interested in the country. The only disappointment is that the illustrations and maps are not up to the quality of the writing

5-0 out of 5 stars A succinct and compelling history of India
After reading V.S. Naipaul's "An Area of Darkness" about his first journey to India, I felt that I needed a more balanced view of the country. This book was just what was called for.

"A Traveller's History of India" was written by a historian from Sri Lanka with an English education. He knows how to give a good overview of the various cultural influences that met and merged in India. His narrative is chronological. It is the best way to illustrate the growth, glory, decline and disappearance of vast empires. It also serves well to refute the Naipaulian idea that there is something particularly evil about the Muslim influence in India. The Islamic believers who invaded India in the 7th century AD shared many things with the Aryan invaders 1500 BC or the Christian invaders in the 18th century AD: they all came, conquered, prospered and some of their influence continues until today. The Aryans brought the caste system and Sanskrit literature; the Muslims built the Taj Mahal, and gave birth to the Urdu language; the Christians built railroads, left a working legal system and administration, and English as a common language that was understood in the whole subcontinent.

In one aspect, however, the Islamic invaders were more ruthless than the others. No other invading culture erased a religion as barbarously as Islam uprooted Buddhism in India: "The conquest of Bihar [in 1202 AD] saw the systematic destruction of all the remaining Buddhist monasteries and the wanton slaughter of all the monks. [...] The ruthless fanaticism of the new conquerors led to the complete disappearance of Buddhism from the land of its birth."

On the other hand, the Muslims exported the decimal system and the symbol zero from India to Europe, both of which later played a crucial role in the development of Western science.

Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda strikes a fair balance between the failures and the successes of the cultures that came to play a role in India. And he has a fine sense of irony when it comes to the impact of the English on India. He notes that the Indian nationalist movement which began in the mid 19th century had its origins in a common identity and a new sense of purpose instilled by the new political and social ideas carried with the English language; and he observes that the discoveries of many British scholars who made it their life's work to unearth the story of India's ancient past gave Indians an important sense of their own identity and a feeling of pride in their past.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this history of India. My greatest delight - and inspiration to do further research and reading - were succinct portraits like the one of Babur (1483-1530 AD), who was not only the founder of the Muslim Mughal empire but also "one of its most fascinating and attractive personalities. A poet and a man of letters, he was also an adventurer of iron nerves and powerful determination. A keen diarist, he recorded his experiences in his memoirs, the Tuzuk-i-Baburi, which are an important source for the history of the period. These memoirs speak of a tremendous zest for life, a man of boundless energy and optimism, a dedicated drunkard and a wholehearted sportsman and polo player. They also reveal an artistic nature of great sensitivity and refinement. Wherever he went Babur laid out Persian gardens, and his memoirs are full of references to the beauties of nature. Cold-blooded and ruthless at times, he was also capable of great generosity and chivalry, and his memories are laced with that rare quality - an endearing sense of humour."

4-0 out of 5 stars Worth it if you're going to India
Lots of historical information.Easy to read.A must for your trip to India. ... Read more

3. A New History of India
by Stanley Wolpert
Paperback: 560 Pages (2008-06-26)
list price: US$49.95 -- used & new: US$34.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195337565
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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After more than twenty-five years in print, A New History of India continues to be the most readable and popular one-volume history of India available. Now in its eighth edition, this acclaimed text features updated scholarship and bibliographic material throughout and integrates new research on such incisive topics as the Indian diaspora, the economy, and the nuclear issue.

In lively, accessible language, Stanley Wolpert condenses more than 4,000 years of India's history into a graceful and engaging narrative. He discusses modern India's rapidly growing population, industry, and economy, and also considers the prospects for India's future. From a carefully balanced perspective, Wolpert presents a fair and truthful record of India's history--he offers both a triumphant portrayal of the brightest achievements of Indian civilization as well as a sobering examination of its persistent social inequities and economic and political corruption.

Enhanced with striking new images and a full-color map of India and the surrounding area, A New History of India, Eighth Edition, remains the authoritative text on the compelling--and often controversial--history of this fascinating country. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

1-0 out of 5 stars Frustrated
I find it interesting (and annoying) that when I order a random toy item, that is not urgent, it comes quickly, but when I order a textbook that is required for a course I am taking and need for assignments that are already due, it takes forever for the item to begin the shipping process.

4-0 out of 5 stars Better on the modern period
Wolpert's text is well written on the whole; for instance, his account of Indira Gandhi's assassination and its context is quite gripping over a couple of pages. As far as the coverage, his scholarship on the modern period is up-to-date and persuasive, but he is weaker on the older period. One example that bugs me: he gets the date of Buddha incorrect and seems to be unaware of recent scholarship on this (H. Bechert). Other surveys, such as Keay's or Kulke's have the correct information. On the other hand, Romila Thapar's supposedly authoritative "Early India" is also out-of-date on this topic. Still, Wolpert's is the best written survey, as one might expect from a historian/novelist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Work
This book does a seemingly impossible task of covering four thousand years of Indian history in one not-so-fat volume. Unlike other books of this nature, this book has almost no errors. Yet, I would like to point out one interesting error.

I had read the 3rd edition of this book and had noted one error. When I bought recently the 8th edition, I hoped that the error would have been corrected, but to my disbelief, the error is still there. On page 410, the author writes that General Manekshaw personally accepted General Niazi's surrender. The surrender was shown in a documentary at that time in most cinema halls of India and it was General Aurora who took the surrender, not General Manekshaw.

On the positive note, I can say that I am old enough to know the events since 1965 and that the author has covered all the important events of this period without any important omission or error, which is a great achievement. I think it is simply a great book.

Uday Bajracharya

5-0 out of 5 stars Great survey book on the history of India
Stanley Wolpert delivers one of the most concise yet thorough accounts of Indian history to date. He does an excellent job of looking at the development of the subcontinent from the days of BC to the modern Tamil and Pakistani conflicts afflicting the nation today.I read this book to get a background on India as a whole and was not disappointed in its quality.It goes into enough detail to understand the story of how India developed as a country with excellent references on where to get more information. Whether you are looking for a basic textbook of India or an introduction to a study for further use this is a great place to start.From a historical standpoint it is very difficult to write a great survey book but this delivers on every possible expectation for a survey.For those who have knowledge on this subject they may find this book maddeningly frustrating or subject to bias and revisionism however from a novice standpoint I do not see much evidence of that.The citations clearly point to sources where ideas come from and they can be verified through independent reading.Highly recommend for those wanting to learn more about India and how it developed as a nation.

5-0 out of 5 stars A brisk, passionate history
Stanley Wolpert manages something remarkable in this brisk history of India: He covers more than 40 centuries in 456 pages but never forgets that he is writing about real human beings. For example, Wolpert compellingly tells the story of the brilliant, ruthless Mughal leader Alamgir, who at the end of his life in 1707 looks back in anguish at the destruction and death he has wrought: "I came alone and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing ... I have sinned terribly, and I do not know what punishment awaits me.'' And there's the scheming Sir Robert Clive, who achieves wealth and power beyond imagination - and then kills himself. Wolpert obviously loves India, and his book is filled with passion you rarely find in introductory historical surveys. You feel his despair over the natural calamities and failures of leadership that have inflicted so much suffering on the subcontinent's people. (The edition I read was published in 2000, during the early stages of India's economic takeoff; if there's a more recent version, it might be a bit happier.) Despite all the villains and charlatans, there are heroes here too, notably Nehru, who kept the place together in the tumultuous early years of independence, and of course Gandhi. (Wolpert has written biographies of both, and I plan to read them.) My only complaint: The names, dates, events and places fly past so swiftly - Gandhi's assassination gets a couple sentences - that it's sometimes hard to keep track of them. But then, that's probably unavoidable in a text that covers so much ground so quickly. (A bonus for readers who linger over acknowledgements: Wolpert writes a very sweet note to his wife of more than four decades.) ... Read more

4. India: Fourth Edition
by Stanley Wolpert
Paperback: 264 Pages (2009-08-17)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$13.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520260325
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This new edition brings Stanley Wolpert's brilliantly succinct and accessible introduction to India completely up to date for a new generation of readers, travelers, and students. In crisp detail, Wolpert gives a panoramic overview of the continent on which the world's most fascinating ancient civilization gave birth to one of its most complex modern democratic nations. India now includes new sections on the country's current global economic development, the recent national elections, and on its international relations, including those with Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, and the United States, India's new strategic global partner. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars My friends in India are confirming much of what I am learning
I am reading this book avidly as I have both personal and professional reasons to care about India. So do you. So far it has been very good... I am learning a lot and am having much of what I learned confirmed by Indian friends. The author has a real affection for India but is not blinded by it. And... it reads well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully well-written and insightful...
I am reading this book now and will update this review as necessary. The author is an excellent writer and clearly cares very much about India and the Indian people. Thus far, this book has encouraged my interest in this subject and I look forward to finishing the book. Excellent.

3-0 out of 5 stars Decent book.
This books presents an unique way of looking at India as a whole. It does include biases, but the piece is not drenched in such informations. The Aryans DID come into India from Central Asia, despite what these other [people] who state otherwise. There is a strong amount of evidence. I suggest Hinduism books by David R. Kinsley and Indian Historical books by John Keay. They are highly UNBIASED.

4-0 out of 5 stars good introduction
having been to India before, Wolpert's book helped to give me a better prospective of the country. Wolpert gives information into the important aspects of the country like the environment, early history, religion and philosophy, society, arts/sciences, and polity/foreign policy. The book is easy to read and gives good information into aspects of india like the caste system, foreign policy after independence (its 5-year plans, Kashmir...) and India under British rule. ... Read more

5. A Concise History of Modern India (Cambridge Concise Histories)
by Barbara D. Metcalf, Thomas R. Metcalf
Paperback: 372 Pages (2006-10-09)
list price: US$27.99 -- used & new: US$7.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521682258
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In a second edition of their successful Concise History of Modern India, Barbara Metcalf and Thomas Metcalf explore India's modern history afresh and update the events of the last decade. These include the takeover of Congress from the seemingly entrenched Hindu nationalist party in 2004, India's huge advances in technology and the country's new role as a major player in world affairs. From the days of the Mughals, through the British Empire, and into Independence, the country has been transformed by its institutional structures. It is these institutions which have helped bring about the social, cultural and economic changes that have taken place over the last half century and paved the way for the modern success story. Despite these advances, poverty, social inequality and religious division still fester. In response to these dilemmas, the book grapples with questions of caste and religious identity, and the nature of the Indian nation. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars History conceived as medicine for Western imperialists and Hindus
As a relative newcomer to the history of India, I found this a decent introduction to the issues and approaches to them that have shaped modern Indian political life. The two central themes that emerge are first, the nature of colonial rule (under Britain, of course--the term is never used of Muslim masters, nor is "imperialism") and the process of separation from it, and second, the problems involved in intercommunal and inter-caste relationships in the context of subsequent Indian democracy.

I had been looking in particular for a sense of how the conversation between Muslims and Hindus about India's past goes, if a "conversation" can be said to exist on the subject: how do Muslims justify their period(s) of rule to their former subjects? How do Hindus as Hindus make sense of their past as subjects of Muslim rule? The extreme positions on both sides are easily discovered, but these extremes don't really meet in conversation.

I was disappointed, though, in this respect: the Metcalfs do not so much convey a sense of the course of this conversation as take one side of it.It is as though they conceive of their history as a kind of therapy against Hindu distrust of Islam: in this treatment, Islam changed nothing, was never involved as an actor, was never alien to India, an influence from "outside." The problems begin only when the Brits and later, Hindus, attempt to conceptualize the communal structure of the subcontinent in too-rigid terms. Mughals and other Muslim dynasties never, apparently, tried to conceptualize anything (let alone by means of Islamic categories!), or if they did, kept their categories loose and supple (well-known characteristics of Islamic thought, of course), for no ill effects are shown to follow, for anybody except, perhaps, for a few rival Hindu dynasties, from centuries of Muslim rule.

But those hapless Brits! The book contains page after page of English terms hugged by ironic scare quotes--sad results of pathetic colonial attempts to make sense of religious and political characteristics of India. Again, the authors' ironic knowingness is directed only at British and Hindu efforts to comprehend and manipulate, never at Muslim ones.

In the end, one feels rather manipulated oneself. ... Read more

6. The Oxford History of India
by V. A. Smith
Paperback: 964 Pages (1981-08-13)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$28.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195612973
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book
This was the prescribed text book for history majors in my college in India. I am not sure how much editing and changes have been made in this version, but the book that we read was pretty well written, and provided a lucid account. Sometimes, it is important to read a basic book to get the big old picture. It is another matter that the interpretation of some of the eventsmay have come under critiicism by later historians, who subscribed to various schools of thoughts, most notably a Marxist interpretation of Indian history.

The book provides a good chronological history of India.

... Read more

7. India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy
by Ramachandra Guha
Paperback: 944 Pages (2008-08-01)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$11.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060958588
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amagisterial account of the pains, the struggles, the humiliations, and the glories of the world's largest and least likely democracy, Ramachandra Guha's India After Gandhi is a breathtaking chronicle of the brutal conflicts that have rocked a giant nation and the extraordinary factors that have held it together. An intricately researched and elegantly written epic history peopled with larger-than-life characters, it is the work of a major scholar at the peak of his abilities.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars Significant work on post independence history
Most Indians, view India's history as a period before 1947, independence struggle or mainly last 1000 years of kingly rule. So unless you are an avid news reader or prepared for IAS (Indian Administrative Services) exam, chances are that post 1947 period is largely viewed as contemporary period where three wars with Pakistan and one with China are the only main events.

After independence in 1947, a fragile India was largely predicted to disintegrate within 20 years. However, India with all its complexities has proven the world wrong, and has come a long way. So it is the events and characters after independence that have largely defined the story of a modern, democratic and secular India.

This is a story of all ups and down since 1947.

I have to mention here that, many people in their reviews have been critical of Guha's largely positive portrayal
of Nehru-Gandhi family. This is a matter of debate and long discussion but it does not change the fact that Nehru-Gandhi family has had a lasting impact on the direction taken by independent India and its democracy. Just a glance at our western neighbor immediately illustrates the point, as to what could have happened. So one cannot write history of independent India without portrayal of Nehru-Gandhi family.

Bravo !!! Ramachandra Guha. Bravo.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Read for the IT Generation
I appreciate Guha for giving factual and as-is version of Indian History for last 6 days. The best part of the book is it's abstinence from judging the actions of our leaders during their time. This gives the readers a sense of the mood of leaders and people at large including the minor opposition, which was generally ignored.

For Indian citizens born after the 1980's their ability to understand and comprehend the Indian history is restricted to the History lessons taught in schools. None of the historic lessons give us a neutral picture. In this regard Guha's work is very impressive. I have been a keen follower of history from school, this book is the closest I came across which gives equal weight to both sides of the stories after Indian Independence.

One striking fact which I heard the very first time, Hindu kar sevaks pulling beard of muslim vendors and forcing them to chant praises for hindu God's on the Godhra railway platform. As far as my memory goes, I haven't heard this version in any mainstream media.

All in all this book deserves a read for anyone trying to get a sense of India over decades after Independence.

4-0 out of 5 stars Required reading
They say a good 4 hour movie feels like 2 hours but a bad 90 min film feels like 6 hours. This book is 760 pages long and it reads like a brisk 200 pages. Well-written, well-researched, non-partisan, a compelling page-turner that should be required reading for all literate Indians.

I am an avid reader of books and newspapers, and I was still amazed at how much I didn't know about India's recent history. Most of the book is arranged chronologically and focuses on the political and social movements over the last 60 years, with a macro look at the business world over the same time.

The book's chief failing is in the last 100 or so pages where the author abandons the chronological approach and groups the discussion within sections like Rulers, Riches, Rights and Riots. These are the weakest sections of the book partly because the number of pages are inadequate for the amount of the ground the author is trying to cover. It feels like he ran out of steam, and was looking to end the book. Else he was given a page limit and he had to finish under 800 pages.

I would still strongly recommend this book to everyone as what the book does well, it does very well. I find myself to be a more compassionate citizen after reading this book, and better equipped to deal with the daily exasperations of living in this wonderful and crazy idea that was born into nationhood in 1947.

4-0 out of 5 stars India After Gandhi
I like histories that combine clear, interesting narrative lines with thoughtful explorations of the ideas that drove events. India After Gandhi does a good job on both fronts. There is a sense of watching the events unfold. Also, the possibility of other outcomes becomes evident when the issues are made clear. Nice writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Required reading to understand modern India
Mr. Guha makes an interesting point in this book: to create a viable democracy, you need strong people who have a vision and a purpose. Thus the likes of John Adams and William Jefferson tinkered with the democratic experiment that is USA and Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel did the same for the Indian experiment. However, and this is important, Mr. Guha maintains that once democracy is established, it is capable of being run by mediocre statesmen (or -women.) Case in point: Mr. George W. Bush and Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Both of these probably hurt the cause of democracy during their tenure --- Mr. Bush by tacitly suspending some civil liberties after 9/11 and Mrs. Indira Gandhi's open suspension of the same during Emergency in India. Strong democracies, nonetheless, will survive.
This book, then, is a great look at the democratic experiment in India. Democracy in India is strongly identified with Nehru and Patel, both influential actors in a post-independent India. A sometime forgotten player, although just as influential a figure in the Indian democratic experiment was Dr. Ambedkar, US-educated writer of the Indian Constitution. That he was of a scheduled caste (the Indian political term for those at the wrong end of the Indian class system) is proof positive of the egalitarian view espoused by Nehru in a post independent India.
The book begins where the British rule ends, 15th August, 1947: Indian independence and subsequent vivisection of the country into two pieces --- India and Pakistan --- the ramifications of which are felt even today. Mr. Guha traces the meticulousness of Nehru in establishing the "new temples of India" and the iron-fist of Patel in gathering the multitude of newly independent states under the Union of India umbrella. Discussed along the way are intricate details of why the states were divided on a linguistic lines, why the tribal areas in the north- eastern part of the country have been a hotbed for insurgency, and why India has survived --- and indeed will continue --- as a democracy.
I have often argued that to understand modern India, you have to read the writings of Mr. Shashi Tharoor and Mr. Sunil Khilani. Add to that list the name of Mr. Ramachandra Guha. This was a great book. ... Read more

8. The History of India, Vol. 2
by Percival Spear
Paperback: 304 Pages (1990-12-07)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$6.98
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Asin: 0140138366
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Covers the period from Mughal rule, through the years of British control, to the government of Nehru, with emphasis on the continuity of development from one era to the next. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A must for any serious student of Indian history
Romila Thapar is the person to start with if u want an overview of Indian history. She does not concentrate so much on personalities as she does on the society of the relevant eras. Highly readable and certainly the best book of Indian history that I have read so far.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not an INTRODUCTION to Indian History
Dr Spear seems to be writing for one already educated in the who did what in British india. He continually presents events that he assumes are within the knowlege of the reader and then attempts to show how these eventsaffected the shape of modern India. ... Read more

9. India: The Definitive History
by D. R. SarDesai
Paperback: 512 Pages (2007-08-07)
list price: US$56.00 -- used & new: US$38.13
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Asin: 0813343526
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Utilizing a nonwestern, indigenous approach, award-winning author D.R. SarDesai presents the history of India in its entire civilizational depth.

In this compelling new text, author D.R. SarDesai presents the definitive history of India in its entire civilizational depth from tradition to modernity. India has recently been receiving considerable global attention thanks to its spectacular economic growth at more than 7 percent for a decade. Along with China, these two ancient civilizations are responsible for one-third of the human race and are poised to become the third and fourth largest economies in the world. With apprehension about China's growing military strength, democratic India is regarded by the West as a likely counterbalance to the Communist giant.

SarDesai covers the process of change in India through the centuries affecting different segments of the society, including the subalterns. He deals with the sweep of traditional Indian history as well as the post-independence events, judiciously balancing narrative and analysis in the conceptual framework of postcolonial and postmodernistapproaches. This is the first major survey that deals with the entire Indian history along the lines of tradition and modernity instead of the old and largely inapplicable divisions of ancient, medieval, and modern timeframes. In adopting such a periodization, the book supports the presentation followed by most instructors in their courses on India. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not really definitive
The author has made a fair claim that modern India(European colonialism to present) has been far overstated in the history books.Unfortunately this is not a definitive history (no book on India could be "definitive" anyway....), nor that good an overview.There are some nightmarish ommissions-what about the Chola Empire?

And while I applaud Sardesai for giving background on certain topics before explaining their place in Indian history (Islam for instance), most of the narrative is written in a somewhat casual nonobjective manner.That's not a flaw, per se, but clarity is essential when it comes to this particular topic, imo.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great General History
Bought this looking for an Indian equivalent of Jonathan Spence's The Search for Modern China and it met this high hurdle admirably.The book does a good job allocating its space and topics.The book's initial focus on geography provides good insight into the later political divisions of India. For a Western reader, Sardesai provides fascinating insights about his own culture. While there are definitely Hindu nationalist overtones, Sardesai also levels criticisms of both modern and pre-modern India without the ackward self-conciousness that would accompany a Western writer. My only complaint (hence the 4-stars) is that the book could use more maps & illustrations - a very limited provincial map at the beginning is the only graphic in the book.It can be somewhat frustrating to have places mentioned in the book (like Pune for example) without being able to place them on a map.

2-0 out of 5 stars bland biased and loses forest for trees
I used this book for a "cultures of India class" and found the chapters too packed with names, places and dates for a reader who is not a history buff but who is familiar with and interested in Indian history.The content and writing style remind me of an old high school text author; there is little theory and little deeper thought apparently given to how events are linked to a theme or form a coherent picture.
There also appears a Hindu bias particularly when discussing the Moghul period and the period prior to Independence. The chapters prior to and after independence are particularly comprised of names, dates, events without putting them into a larger political, colonial, cultural or social context.
For someone who is already familiar with Indian history the book is a nice resource and useful to have around. On the other hand this book is definitely not as the brazen subtitle suggests "a definitive history;" but mostly a pastiche of men and events as the makers of history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent value with great information
This definitive history is perfect for a traveller interested in the background to this marvellous complex society.It gives a no frills account of its history dating back almost to the year dot.The reviews I read in order to purchase this as a gift were spot on with their recommendations. My husband is enthralled by the depth of knowledge it offers.He has been travelling for business a lot and finds the people and culture fascinating.He now has an insight into their beliefs and cultural ways he always wanted.If you are looking for a book that is not for an academic outlook but just plain facts and questions answered, this is it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful treatise on an ancient civilization
To have written something definitive on any subject is a bold claim, more so for a historian and all the more so for writings on the history of India. And yet, except for a couple of places in the book where the author claims that there IS no evidence to support views that oppose his own, without acknowledging the limitations of any search for historical truths, this book's title seems justified. This book needs to be translated into as many languages as possible and all those interested in the history of a great and inclusive ancient civilization should read it. Much like Vinayak D. Savarkar's "Saha Soneri Pane" (Six Golden Pages), this is a book that every library must have. ... Read more

10. The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300
by Romila Thapar
Paperback: 592 Pages (2003-08-07)
list price: US$31.00 -- used & new: US$15.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140288260
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This new book represents a complete rewriting of Romila Thapar's hugely successful "History of India - Volume One", thirty-four years after it was first published. Incorporating the vast changes in knowledge developed during her lifetime, Thapar tells the extraordinary story of this great civilisation - a civilisation always based on diverse, often warring sources and that left the astounding buildings and beliefs that still fill India. This book is the authoritative history told with style andmeticulous attention to detail by the world's leading authority. ... Read more

11. A History of India (Blackwell History of the World)
by Burton Stein
Paperback: 472 Pages (2010-04-27)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$31.75
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Asin: 1405195096
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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This new edition of Burton Stein's classic A History of India builds on the success of the original to provide an updated narrative of the development of Indian society, culture, and politics from 7000 BC to the present.

  • New edition of Burton Stein’s classic text provides a narrative from 7000 BC up to the twenty-first century
  • Includes updated and extended coverage of the modern period, with a new chapter covering the death of Nehru in 1964 to the present
  • Expands coverage of India's internal political and economic development, and its wider diplomatic role in the region
  • Features a new introduction, updated glossary and further reading sections, and numerous figures, photographs and fully revised maps
Amazon.com Review
Academic in style, Stein's text provides a useful survey ofIndian history from antiquity to the mid-1960s, with brief mention oflater events such as the Indian intervention in the Pakistani civilwar of 1970. Stein provides particularly good information on the riseof city-states like Mohenjo Daro in the Indus Valley around 3500B.C. and on their collapse thanks to a combination of factors,including the deforestation of the Indus watershed for firewood anddepletion of topsoil through too intensive agriculture. He discussesthe evolution of the caste system, as much a strength historically asit was a weakness; the arrival of Islam in India in the 8th centuryA.D. and the subsequent development of specifically Indian forms ofthe religion, most notably Sufism; and the fortunes of the variousEuropean nations that laid claim to parts of the Indian subcontinentin the early modern era. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

I am a professional history teacher who bought this book while looking for a good, scholarly, substantial, one-volume history of India. It was a waste of $40. The author was an American Marxist historian who, while he taught in a British university, maintains throughout a virulently anti-British drumbeat. He even manages to drag digs at the British into discussions of India in the 7th. century. It becomes very tedious. He also focuses heavily on the history of southern India, his preferred area of study, while minimizing coverage of some important areas of northern history.

In many cases, he is so fixated on arguing specific points-of-view, he fails to give a full picture of the civilization he is supposedly describing. He talks about the conquest of the Gupta empire, for example, and discusses social changes during that period; but doesn't pause to tell the reader anything about Gupta culture and achievements. Later, he repeats the accusations against Warren Hastings, gives absolutely NO description of Hastings' actions as Governor-General, but makes clear his assumption that Hastings was guilty by a bitter little reference to his suicide.

In short, steer clear of this book. I wish I had my $40 back to buy something else. I am still looking for that scholarly and trustworthy history of India. This is not it. ... Read more

12. The True History and the Religion of India: A Concise Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism
by H.D. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati
Hardcover: 808 Pages (2003-01-01)
list price: US$36.99 -- used & new: US$36.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0967382319
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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This is a single volume, concise Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism which details all the aspects of Hinduism at one place. It relates the authentic form of Hindu culture, religion and the history of India since the very beginning of human civilization and describes the real Divine aspect of the Vedas, Upnishads, Puranas, Gita and the Bhagwatam. This all inclusive book presents an enormous amount of information with scriptural, logical, historical and scientific evidences. It is the first time in hundreds of years that such an encyclopedia has been produced which reveals the true form of Hinduism and the correct history of India to the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book ever written on Indian History

Most of the Indian History written in English is tarnished by western views of India; this is the only Indian History book in English which is not biased by the western viewpoint. British Empire ruled India for a long time and created propaganda to tarnish the true Indian Culture. To this effect they created vast amount of false information and circulated it everywhere in the 18th and the 19th century. All the books on India were based on these viewpoints including those of Indian writers like Nehru, RadhaKrishnan etc. This book is a rare gem and the author has unparallel knowledge which is apparent in the simple style of writing and the facts by which each subject is supported by

5-0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking revelation on British distortion of Hinduism
This book shows for the first time how the British rulers of India in the Victorian age and after attempted to distort Hindu religion and culture to both discredit it and give Hindus an inferiority complex!!! The mass collection, distortion and desruction of ancient Hindu manuscripts is well documented and also is highlighted how the many thousands of books on Hinduism today are incorrect and representative of a distorted view of Hinduism perpetrated by the British in a manner so ingenious that modern 'so-called' Indian experts of the Hindu religion have had the wool pulled over their eyes for decades !!!!!!!!!! - A MUST READ - the World is attempting to supress the depth of knowledge contained in the Vedic scriptures............buy this book and pass on the message to everyone

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone interested in learning about India and Hinduism
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about the accurate ancient and recent history of India.It is truly a gem and gives a true representation of Hindusim.A must read for anyone interested in learning about and understanding Hinduism which is often misrepresented and misunderstood.

3-0 out of 5 stars Hmmm...what do I think of this book?...Okay...Let me mention that...
this is a fairly well written book. It has some interesting material that I would want non-Indians and non-Hindus to be familiar with, especially when it comes to historical events in Indian history, the earlier Indians themselves, and the cultural, scientific, linguistic, and religious contributions that the ancient Indians made prior to the future societies. In general, the ancient Indians were also geniuses in terms of architecture, technology, and medicine. The author does a great job of defeating negative myths about our religion and culture. Although the encyclopedia helps me gain some knowledge of my Indian heritage, there are still a few cons about thebook. He seems to lose track of emphasizing that Hinduism, since ancient times, has been a religion of acceptance, tolerance, oneness of God, and universalism; although he encourages interfaith peace and respect at the end of the book and a few times throughout his writings. I am nearly a conservative individual myself when it comes to religious values but I believe that the author comes from a Hindu sect that is different from the one that I belong to. At least a few of his religious beliefs and teachings contradict the ones that my Hindu sect teaches. In the book, he seems to put more focus on what his sect teaches instead of concentrating on Hinduism as a whole perspective. I am aware that the ardent supporters of this book will disagree with me completely regarding this but the Hindu faith does not just consist of one sect with one specific set of beliefs and practices. Like other religions, Hinduism has many sects with a variety of beliefs and practices. I am willing to look at additional sources the next time if I want more information regarding my Hindu culture and religious faith. Another thing that makes me feel uneasy about this book is that it is over priced. The author also needs to be more organized in how he presents material because he keeps going from topic back to topic throughout the book and he is redundant in mentioning information as well. Nevertheless, this is one of the books that I still recommend that an individual reads if he or she has a passion for studying cultures and religions of the world and wishes to gain access to the fair portrayal of Hinduism. In general, I wish that more and more people could positively view Hinduism with accuracy and not be mislead by negative stereotypes about us.

1-0 out of 5 stars An Angry Book of Questionable Worth
I purchased this book based on the strong recommendation of an acquaintance on goodreads, but now that I have had a chance to look at it I am returning it to amazon for a refund. I was really looking forward to a comprehensive, authoritative book on "The True History and the Religion of India," but that's not even remotely what this book is about.

A pair of Western scholars (Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer, "Horesplay in Harappa," Frontline Magazine, 10/13/00) have observed: "In the past few decades, a new kind of history has been propagated by a vocal group of Indian writers, few of them trained historians, who lavishly praise and support each other's works. Their aim is to rewrite Indian history from a nationalistic and religious point of view. Their writings have special appeal to a new middle class confused by modern threats to traditional values. With alarming frequency their movement is backed by powerful political forces, lending it a mask of respectability that it does not deserve." I believe this is precisely one such book, and will be happy to have it out of my house.

I recommend that readers new to the subject consult the works of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami instead of this one --Dancing With Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Catechism is an excellent place to begin, and in addition to being offered for sale here on amazon and elsewhere, all Subramuniyaswami-ji's writings can be read for free in their entirety on the Himalayan Academy website. As a general rule of thumb, I maintain that a Guru who does not show respect for any non-Indian cultures or religions does not represent the true Sanatan Dharma.

... Read more

13. The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan
by Yasmin Khan
Paperback: 272 Pages (2008-11-05)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300143338
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Partition of India in 1947 promised its people both political and religious freedom—through the liberation of India from British rule, and the creation of the Muslim state of Pakistan. Instead, the geographical divide brought displacement and death, and it benefited the few at the expense of the very many. Thousands of women were raped, at least one million people were killed, and ten to fifteen million were forced to leave their homes as refugees. One of the first events of decolonization in the twentieth century, Partition was also one of the most bloody.


In this book Yasmin Khan examines the context, execution, and aftermath of Partition, weaving together local politics and ordinary lives with the larger political forces at play. She exposes the widespread obliviousness to what Partition would entail in practice and how it would affect the populace. Drawing together fresh information from an array of sources, Khan underscores the catastrophic human cost and shows why the repercussions of Partition resound even now, some sixty years later. The book is an intelligent and timely analysis of Partition, the haste and recklessness with which it was completed, and the damaging legacy left in its wake.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Must read on one of humanity's worst excesses
The Partition of India is a much studied though least discussed topic. Let me qualify what I mean by that seeming contradiction of terms. Many academics have studied the cause for the Partition and its horrendous aftermaths, but that's it. It has become an academic exercise that has lacked thorough discussion by the very people that it wreaked havoc on. India sees the Partition through her own prism as does Pakistan. Both appear to be entrenched in the view that the other side caused it and our side suffered massively for it. As a result, students in India read the Indian version of the very same truth that is regurgitated in a much different form to Pakistani students. The truth becomes a casualty by the politics of each state.
Today's world knows more about the Jewish plight in Europe and the after-effects of the atomic bombs in Japan than it does about the Partition --- an event that displaced 18 million people, killed 3 million, and scarred many million more. The Indian and Pakistani states are simply not interested in preserving the memories --- as horrid as they are --- for future generations. The trains full of dead bodies arriving in empty stations; countless women abducted, left behind, or bartered for passage from one country to another; religions adopted or discarded at the whim of unruly mobs; riches lost and families torn apart. All these are the realities of the Partition that will go mostly unrecorded except for an academic mention. I am simply amazed by the single mindedness of the Israeli government to keep the memory of the Holocaust fresh in contemporary print and media (movies, etc.) just as I am amazed by the Indian and Pakistani state to interpret the Partition to suit the political need of the hour.
There are many reasons why the Partition occurred. The British wanted to accelerate their withdrawal from India, having just finished World War II with depleted coffers. They did not have the treasury nor the will to continue their dominion. Europe was licking its wounds from World War II as well and was not interested in the cleaving of a nation far from its borders. The Muslim League wanted a separate state for Muslims but had no idea what it would mean to divide the nation based on religious lines and to rule a new nation founded on religious principles -- who protects the minorities? The Congress had its hand full trying to consolidate a new nation from the former princely states.
It is debatable whether the Partition could have been avoided. Was it for the British simply a matter of drawing a random line and dividing Punjab and present day Bangladesh as they did? Did they anticipate the mass exodus from each country to the other of the affected people? Did Jinnah anticipate this? Did Nehru? The book makes a point that the refugee crisis careened out of control because the world was not prepared to handle such a mass exodus. Red Cross did not exist in 1947 and the newly formed United Nations did not have the accouterments like UNHCR to deal with the refugee crisis. Whatever the causes and effects, the Partition ranks alongside the Holocaust and the use of atomic weapons as a testament to humanity's worst. Except that unlike the Holocaust and atomic bombs, most of the world is ignorant of the horrors of the Partition.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book on this subject accessible to the general reader
I was born and brought up in India and I have a keen interest in South Asian history. Out of the 15 or so books on partition that I read (sometimes just skimmed through!), this book is undoubtedly the best. (Patrick French's book 'Liberty or Death' is also VERY good, but it covers lot of other issues- not just Partition and is quite long!).
If you have an appreciation for good English writing, this book will be a pleasure to read- but don't expect something that panders to popular stereotypes about India/South Asia or interesting anecdotes about eccentric Indian kings or leaders- this is a serious work of scholarship suitable only for the deeply interested casual reader. The author appears to be a first rate scholar who has a very impressive command over the subject matter- she sometimes manages to convey more in a couple of paragraphs than some other historians will do in entire chapters.I needed all my prior knowledge of Indian history to begin to understand how good this book really is! In the interest of brevity, I will mention only two major strengths of this book relative to other general accounts of the Partition of India.

1.This is history from the bottom up- instead of focusing on the discussions between leaders of the Indian National Congress, Muslim League and high ranking British officials leading up to the partition, the author concentrates on how the politics related to the partition played out on the streets of India- the fears, insecurities and expectations of the common people and how politicians sought to engage them. The majority of studies on Partition concentrate only on the 'elite politics' aspect- what Nehru, Jinnah or Mountbatten did or didn't do or say etc.Not that this is not important - but to really understand the positions taken by Nehru/Jinnah/Gandhi/Mountbatten and others- it is not enough to understand their personalities and their relationships- we also have to understand the broader social/political environment in which these positions were formed. The political decisions and actions of the major players cannot be understood in isolation- they become much more intelligible if you have a better understanding of the popular expectations, pressures and fears to which these leaders were compelled to respond.(This is probably particularly true of the Partition which became a highly emotive issue for many Hindus and Muslims/Sikhs during those times). In Yasmin Khan's book - this broader context, the evolving political situation in India in the late 1930's and early to mid 1940's is discussed with a richness and detail that is not equaled by any other book that I have read or heard about on the Partition of India- and this is a particular merit of this book.

2.Both Hindu and Muslim nationalists (who have a particular stake in distorting the history of partition for their own purposes) will find a lot to be angry about in this book- and this is a very good thing!I think this is a highly judicious account which is not biased towards the official Indian or Pakistani version of the history of partition (although- of course, many will disagree- which again is unsurprising!).

Overall, this is a relatively brief and exceedingly well written general history of the partition. (The overall tone of the writing is analytical
- but there is little unnecessary academic jargon and it is not very dry either).

1-0 out of 5 stars Uninformative and biased book
After Reading Narendra Singh Sarila's fantastic account of the partition in "In the Shadow of the Great Game", which gives a great many details on the main Indian and British figures that played a role in the partition, and their respective motivations.
This book barely scratches the surface of the real complexity, and seems to be another attempt by british intellectuals to spin the parittion in a convenient manner.

4-0 out of 5 stars Commendable, succinct history
While many books demonize India or Pakistan in the blame game of partition, Yasmin Khan indicates there was a shared breakdown of Hindu and Muslim trust leading up to the event.This was exacerbated by the clumsy imposition of premature partition upon India and Pakistan by the British government.Without making clear what partition meant or how it would be implemented, fears were greatly magnified, leading to some of the worst civil violence in India-Pakistan history; a virtual state of ethnic cleansing existed, perpetrated by extremists on both sides in 1947.So there is plenty of blame to be passed around.Khan's book seems to do historical justice to the even without detectable Hindu or Muslim bias.His history is vividly descriptive, but sometimes shies away from the political details and power plays one might have wished he had explored further.Nonetheless I found it to be a succinct, commendable book on the event of India's partition.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent context on partition
Most histories of the Indian Partition focus on the leadership but this one actually provides the social, economic and human context of the event.Khan is very balanced in her analysis identifying the forces that were building in the run-up to the Partition.The tragic consequences of these forces were were inevitable but they were ignored by native and colonial leaders due to either their incompetence or their indulgence.While lots of evil was committed by both sides, the book illustrates the uncertain context in which such evil was predictable, even if not justifiable. ... Read more

14. A Brief History of India
by Judith E. Walsh
Hardcover: Pages (2010-09)
list price: US$49.50 -- used & new: US$36.98
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Asin: 0816081433
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15. The History of Pakistan (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
by Iftikhar Malik
Hardcover: 260 Pages (2008-07-30)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$38.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313341370
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The History of Pakistan explores the rich and intricate past of a highly diverse nation still in the process of determining its own identity.Rooted in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, shaped by the cultures of both the Middle and Far East, and now predominantly devoted to Islam, Pakistan has emerged as a unique Indo-Muslim community, viewed with caution and curiosity by the rest of the world.In this latest volume of Greenwood's History of Modern Nations series, readers discover the foundations of modern Pakistan, from its earliest empires and shared history with India to the coming of Islam and its successful fight for independence in 1947.This highly informative guide also examines the key issues and attitudes guiding Pakistan today: their volatile feud with India over the region of Kashmir and the right to nuclear development, internal debates over the role of Islam in Pakistani society, and the unbreakable dominance of the military in political affairs.Poised between a radically changing India and the politically unstable Middle East, Pakistan is an important nation to understand as it determines its course in rapidly a changing world.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine historical introduction for high school or college-level holdings
Joining others in the 'Greenwood Histories of Modern Nations' is a fine survey of Pakistan's evolution and development, from its early influence in Indo-Islamic culture to its establishment as a separate state. Included in the history are notes on political interactions within the region, influential individuals, and military confrontations. It's a fine historical introduction for high school or college-level holdings strong in regional country histories.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
... Read more

16. A History of India: Volume 1 (Penguin History)
by Romila Thapar
Paperback: 384 Pages (1990-09-01)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140138358
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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This is a history of India upto 1300 AD, introducing the beginnings of India's cultural dynamics. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

1-0 out of 5 stars biased marxist/communist representation of India
Prof. Romila Thapar is a well known marxist and communist sympathizer from India. Her works have been biased by her marxist ideology and her communist background. Her works on India cannot be taken seriously at all. If you need to read what the Colonial powers wrote about India 200 years ago, and what has been seen repudiated in modern Indian history, then one should read Ms. Thapar's books.

3-0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings
As can be seen from the other reviews, opinions about this book span the spectrum. I just finished reading the book, and overall, I found the book useful. The language was lucid and the structure compact. It takes the readers from ancient times to the year 1526 (the year that Babur won the first battle of Panipat and laid the foundation for the Mugal empire). Chapters in the book deal mostly with distinct periods and they begin with a coverage of the kingdoms of the period, then proceed to administration methods, arts and literature, and finally to religion and culture. South India gets mostly distinct treatment from the North, but there are constant cross-references of co-occuring events. There is a definite attempt to provide coverage of what peoples lives were like during the times, and what the social customs were. All this is good.

However, as some others have pointed out, the author does come off as having a distaste for anything that is associated with the religion of Hinduism. How palatable this is for the reader will depend on the reader's own perception. For me, there were definitely places where I accepted the acid tone and stern language of the author - especially when she talks about the caste system, and how it prevented the democratization of education, arts and literature (the latter also a product of the treatment given to the Sanskrit language). There were also places in the book where the text appeared needlessly harsh and biased. In the latter parts of the book, the author, while praising Islamic architecture, draws a comparison with the pillars in Hindu temples and comments that the latter were unnecessarily ornate! For every piece of warranted criticism, there appeared to be an unwarranted one.

In summary, if your goal is to get a reasonable and comprehensive view of Indian history, you can't go too wrong with this book. At the same time, if you have strong ideas about India already, it would be difficult to get through it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A HISTORY OF INDIA: VOLUME I

1-0 out of 5 stars This is a joke-book!
Avoid it; anyone who buys this book is financing a anti-India, socialist looby.

Author is well-known for her twisted take on anything Indian.

1-0 out of 5 stars Completely outrageous and informationless
I expected a more out or a historian like Romila Thapar. The whole book looks like biased Indian culture bashing boring read.The information sources and references seem like they have been picked specially for a pool of India hating English historians library.The real essence of Indian culture which has bought into this world Vedas, Yoga and beautiful art forms seems to be completely missing.Definitely not a read for a person getting introduced to Indian culture (Wrong Views), informationless for a knowledge seeker (Colorless Views). ... Read more

17. A Concise History of India
by Barbara D. Metcalf, Thomas R. Metcalf
Paperback: 344 Pages (2001-10-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$11.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521639743
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In a challenging new history of modern India, the authors explore the imaginative and institutional structures that have changed and sustained the country. While previous histories have been composed as handmaids of British nationalism or as products of emerging nationalist identities, this book challenges the notion that a continuous meaning can be applied to social categories such as "caste," "Hindu," "Muslim," or even "India,". An initial chapter focuses on the period of Muslim dynasties that preceded colonial conquest, while the final chapter analyzes the dramatic recent events of the 1990s, including economic change, religious nationalism and India's emergence as a nuclear power. Illustrations and quotations from historical sources are integral to the narrative.Thomas R. Metcalf is Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley. His previous books inlcude An Imperial Vision (California, 1989) and Ideologies of the Raj (Cambridge, 1997).Barbara Metcalf is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. She is the editor of Making Muslim Space in North America (University of California Press, 1996). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not a book for a neophyte
Assumes a great deal of previous knowledge and is really not a primer on Indian history. Difficult to follow and make sense of.

3-0 out of 5 stars By Jai Kapadia
Not the easiest read, but the book is still useful for refrence material. The glossary section is useful and the section focussing on the period of the Muslim dynasty is detailed.

2-0 out of 5 stars Lovely Topic. It's A Shame It's So Poorly Written!
This is perhaps the most poorly written general history I have ever read. Assigned reading in a Modern Indian history course, I cannot recommend strongly enough that instructors and students avoid this text. The largest failing of this book is to poorly integrate the scope of the topic. The book goes from focusing on one tiny event in India to another, with absolutely no flowing, overarching narrative to tie them together. There is very little context given for most of the events described, and the reader is left wondering why certain actors are behaving the way they are. There also seems to be a strident anti-British tone throughout the text, which generally is a fair assessment for Indian historians to make, however the authors fail to capture the Pro-British vs. Anti-British debate within the reform movement with any objectivity, which is essential to understanding modern Indian history. Overall, a wonderful opportunity to introduce Westerners to the rich history of India has been wasted, and educational institutions everywhere should take note.

2-0 out of 5 stars Two lovers and a naughty-bore of a child
The Metcalf's have produced a book rich in factoids, post-colonial sentimentalism, and wretched prose. Clearly, the authors had good intentions in terms of contriving a history that implored us to mock the sunny empire. However, instead of focusing on their keen ehtical duty to educate against empire, they should have considered the horror that comes with mirthless prose and inevitable colonization ofany passionate interest the reader ever had.

2-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing in its correction of bias, but indigestible
Most of the concise histories of India commonly assigned to students, such as those by John Keay and by Kulke and Rothermund, have been accused of having to Eurocentric a bias. The Metcalfs, professors at the UCalifornia schools, remedy this slant in their new CONCISE HISTORY OF INDIA by stacking the deck against European colonialism. While this is welcome, it is not without cost. The greatest, perhaps, is that the Metcalfs often seem to great length to vilify some figures or parties while at pains elsewhere to vindicate others . While their biases are understandable (even ones with which I basically agree), this does not make for the most balanced or objective of histories.

More worrying is their utter dryness of tone: it would be hard to imagine anyone being introduced to India (presumably the book's target audience) finding this book anything other than a painful chore. key figures or concepts are introduced basically offhand, then circled back to discuss in greater length much later when you've forgotten who or what they were; very minor figures from the nation's history or culture are often brought forth to comment on the events, but the authors do not clarify whether these commentators are important or central or not. There are good maps, and a useful beginning glossary, but I would have to recommend John Keay's book (for all its European bias) as a much more readable introduction to India than this one. ... Read more

18. The Illustrated History of South India (Oxford India Collection)
by K.A Nilakanta Sastri (the late), R.C. Champakalakshmi, P.M. Rajan Gurukkal
Paperback: 268 Pages (2009-11-30)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$20.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0198063563
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In A History of South India,first published in 1955, K.A. Nilakanta Sastri provided a comprehensive account of the history of South India. Tracing the history from prehistoric times to the fall of the kingdom of Vijayanagar in 1565 AD, the book incorporated the results of the author's own researches and brought together material previously scattered in separate studies to present a coherent narrative. Over the years the book has achieved a near-classic status.
The Illustrated History of South India, an adapted and illustrated version of the original book, aims to sensitize young readers to the country's historic past and rich cultural heritage, and the need to preserve it. Key chapters discuss the coming of the Aryans, the Mauryan Empire, the rise of Vijayanagar, social and economic conditions, literature, religion and philosophy, and the art and architecture of South India. The volume includes an Introduction by renowned historian R. Champakalakshmi, written especially for this edition, and a Prologue by eminent historian P.M. Rajan Gurukkal. Interspersed with photographs and line drawings, including maps and genealogical charts, this illustrated edition will be invaluable for students and teachers of history, in particular, history of South India, as well as general readers. India, which over the years has achieved a near-classic status, this illustrated edition provides a comprehensive account of the history of South India from the prehistoric times to the fall of the kingdom of Vijayanagar in 1565 AD. This volume includes a new Introduction by renowned historian R. Champakalakshmi, and a Prologue by eminent historian P.M. Rajan Gurukkal. ... Read more

19. India
by DK Publishing
Hardcover: 376 Pages (2008-09-01)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$16.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0756639778
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Just 60 years after winning independence from British rule, India's economy is booming and the nation is fast becoming a leading global power. With a population of a billion people, India's society is as varied as its awe-inspiring landscape. Home to a dizzying array of languages, ethnic groups, beliefs, and lifestyles, India can seem overwhelming in its complexity. India takes the lid off this cultural melting pot, showing how past events have shaped this diverse but unified nation, where tradition and modernity successfully coexist. Through stunning photography and insightful text, India offers an eye-opening, thought-provoking, and authoritative visual guide to one of the world's most exciting and vibrant nations. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful coffee table book on India
Bought this book at Borders the other day - $7.99 and a steal, if I do say so. Normally, the books on the super clearance shelf at Borders are there for a reason: they're big and useless and no one wants them. But I have an obsession with India, and I think this 350+ page, full color, coffee table book is amazing.
Divided into six sections:
1. Landscape - beautiful full page picture
2. History - easy to read, full of pictures, comprehensive timeline covering 6000+ years of Indian history
3. People - day-in-the-life of random Indians
4. Culture - mostly text, explaining complex indian cultures & beliefs
5. Archetecture - my favourite section, floorplans and pictures of an assortment of indian building
6. Travel - a short section covering the main attractions of the Indian subcontinent

There is so much information packed into this book, and in a very aesthetically pleasing way. Its not the definitive history book, or travel guide, or cultural treatise, but it incorporates aspects of all these things and displays them in a beautiful tomb perfect for browsing and flipping through.

4-0 out of 5 stars Like a school book
Good book, beautiful cover, but not what I was hoping for: a picture book from the main sites/cities/monuments in India. Instead you get plenty of explanations and fewer places. Good before traveling there to learn about it (but nowadays internet has it all). I wanted more pictures.

5-0 out of 5 stars beautiful book
If you are interested in India, you'll love this book.Received quickly and in good condition.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sumptously presented, super value, seriously written
This visually stunned me. It opens with panoramic vistas and fills pages with imagery. Its text packs lots of learning. While a heavy book in size and contents, it enriches readers and it's surprisingly affordable.

DK lavishes graphics in all its publications, and this approach matches well the wonders of landscape art, architecture, daily life, occupations, sights, religious and mythical tales, and travel highlights that cram these large pages. Evocative verse excerpts top double-page spreads of beautiful photography to open the volume, and alongside such as the Taj Mahal and Khajuraho, the colorful wares of a dye seller, a Ladakh Tibetan Buddhist monastery, a bridal dinner, the makeup worn by a dancer, or the inlay of a Mughal archway gain impact from the enlarged illustrations.

Also, the text, credited to Abraham Eraly, Yasmin Khan, George Michell, and Mitali Saran, explores such topics as the early cities of the Indus, a train driver's day, or a "dabbawallah" who somehow delivers tiffin lunchboxes each day in Mumbai, clearly. The Bhagavad-Gita, for instance, earns excerpts from its second chapter that use Krishna's encouragement to Arjuna to fight in battle that sum up the whole Hindu mindset skillfully.

This relates to one small shortcoming. Lacking a reading list, I am not sure where to turn next to find out more. The translation of the B-G is noted in the acknowledgments along with a couple of the poems earlier cited, and there's an index and photo credits, but a supplemental guide to films, books, or other media could have been inserted. The travel guide at the end whets one's appetite to visit, but the illustrated maps can be hard to read, drawn engagingly though they may be with art and color in a style that reminds me of lush coffee-table tomes of my childhood of faraway places. The binding, as earlier reviewers on Amazon mention, is noteworthy, but the book might be scuffed or dented easily-- so I'd keep it away from the coffee under the table. But I'd also take it out and read it from cover to cover, for browsing the art will lure you into the print quickly.

5-0 out of 5 stars A joy. Very nicely done. Learned a LOT!
I must say, it's almost amazing to me how India is still standing after invasion after invasion. I had know clue India had such a complicated and rich history. Definitely learned A LOT!Far more than I expected. The book is absolutely gorgeous. From the outside in. There was quite a bit of work that was put into this. It's sad India and China were the only countries done this way. India is far more diverse than I expected as well. Not just in history, but landscape, people, religion, art, point of views, etc. The book is broken up into sections. Places/Landscape is first (pages 7-41). It's mostly eye candy but in no way to be missed. History is second (pages 63-111). Which not only covers the race history, but a little on artifacts, religious texts, invasions, civil rights and independence (Gandhi), westernization, future, etc. People is third (pages 113-215). I enjoyed this section because is was done as a day-in-the-life-of 14 different people. Covers a Hindu priest, a Hindu wedding (more so the bride), a schoolgirl, a dance teacher, a royal guard, a fisherman, and 8 more. An even more fascinating read was the Culture (pages 217-275) section. Which mostly goes through a bit more in depth, all the different religions. Which seems to be a huge part of India's culture. Architecture (pages 277-355) goes through mostly ancient dwellings. Gives insight more as to why certain things were done rather than how (if that makes any sense). It's mostly overview and history. But still an enjoyable section. Travel is the last part of the book (pages 357-371). It goes through all the country by North, East, West, South and Central. Recommends places to check out, best time to go, etiquette, hotels, places to eat, etc., etc. It's a small but still informative section.Well, the Index and photos credits is last last. I borrowed this book from the library and now I see I am definitely going to have to buy it. It really is a gorgeous and informative book. Makes you want to learn more. I'll never see India or anything, or one for that matter, the same way. I highly recommend it. ... Read more

20. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century
by Upinder Singh
Hardcover: 704 Pages (2009-05-18)
list price: US$91.40 -- used & new: US$91.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 813171120X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Basic Approach

Developed as a comprehensive introductory work for scholars and students of ancient and early medieval Indian history, this books provides the most exhaustive overview of the subject. Dividing the vast historical expanse from the stone age to the 12th century into broad chronological units, it constructs profiles of various geographical regions of the subcontinent, weaving together and analysing an unparalleled range of literary and archaeological evidence.
Dealing with prehistory and protohistory of the subcontinent in considerable detail, the narrative of the historical period breaks away from conventional text-based history writing. Providing a window into the world primary sources, it incorporates a large volume of archaeological data, along with literary, epigraphic, and numismatic evidence. Revealing the ways in which our past is constructed, it explains fundamental concepts, and illuminates contemporary debates, discoveries, and research. Situating prevailing historical debates in their contexts, Ancient and Early Medieval India presents balanced assessments, encouraging readers to independently evaluate theories, evidence, and arguments.
Beautifully illustrated with over four hundred photographs, maps, and figures, Ancient and Early Medieval India helps visualize and understand the extraordinarily rich and varied remains of the ancient past of Indian subcontinent. It offers a scholarly and nuanced¿yet lucid¿account of India¿s early past, and will surely transform the discovery of this past into an exciting experience.

Tabel of Contents

List of photographs
List of maps
List of figures
About the author
A readers guide

1. Understanding Literary and Archaeological Sources
2. Hunter-Gatherers of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Ages
3. The Transition to Food Production: Neolithic,Neolithic¿Chalcolithic, and Chalcolithic Villages, c. 7000¿2000 bce
4. The Harappan Civilization, c. 2600¿1900 bce
5. Cultural Transitions: Images from Texts and Archaeology, c. 2000¿600 bce
6. Cities, Kings, and Renunciants: North India, c. 600¿300 bce
7. Power and Piety: The Maurya Empire, c. 324¿187 bce
8. Interaction and Innovation, c. 200 BCE¿300 ce
9. Aesthetics and Empire, c. 300¿600 ce
10. Emerging Regional Configurations, c. 600¿ 1200 ce
Note on diacritics
Further readings

Author Bio

Upinder Singh is Professor in the Department of History at the University of Delhi. She taught history at St. Stephen¿s College, Delhi, from 1981 until 2004, after which she joined the faculty of the Department of History at the University of Delhi. Professor Singh¿s wide range of research interests and expertise include the analysis of ancient and early medieval inscriptions; social and economic history; religious institutions and patronage; history of archaeology; and modern history of ancient monuments. Her research papers have been published in various national and international journals. Her published books include: Kings, Brahmanas, and Temples in Orissa: An Epigraphic Study (AD 300¿1147) (1994); Ancient Delhi (1999; 2nd edn., 2006); a book for children, Mysteries of the Past: Archaeological Sites in India (2002); The Discovery of Ancient India: Early Archaeologists and the Beginnings of Archaeology (2004); and Delhi: Ancient History (edited, 2006).

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars exemplary writing
This is basically a textbook, and needs to be compared to other textbooks.On that scale it comes out very well indeed.One common problem with textbooks is that the writers get nervous about potential criticism from other experts. In that state of mind, writers start qualifying their statements to the point that the presentation gets very muddy.

Upinder Singh's writing, on the other hand, is clear as a bell. Any halfway interested reader will not be put off by her prose but drawn in. Given the difficulties of writing about ancient India, this is a remarkable achievement.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent reference book on Indian History
This is the most comprehensive and well written book on Ancient and Medieval Indian History that I have seen. Starting from the Stone Age and going up to the 12th century this is an excellent reference book, both for the student as well as for the general public. Well illustrated with color maps, photographs and figures, the book is printed and bound beautifully. Regarding the organization of the chapters let me quote from the book:

"Each chapter constitutes a chronological unit within a larger framework, providing a comprehensive overview of historical issues and details, and constructing profiles of the various geographical regions in the sub continent. The chapter outline provides a view of the broad organization of the chapter. An opening story from a variety of sources serves as an engaging start for the chapter and also presents a strand from the rich thematic core of the chapter's discussion."

I can't put it any better, but can only confirm it is not at all an exaggeration and each chapter looks like an art of work! The links to the early Indian literature, the tools, coins, inscriptions and other archeological evidence, external sources, later scientific interpretations of the evidence, and new directions of research are so well covered in each chapter than one cannot ask for anything more.

The book is expensive (Rs.3,500 in India and over $120 in U.S) but well worth it for the serious student of Indian History. I was also told that the author is the daughter of the India's prime minister, Mr.Manmohan Singh. I have not cross checked that, but anyway all Indians can be proud of Upinder Singh's contribution. ... Read more

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