India: A History and millions of other books are available for site Kindle. Learn more .. Book Review-By tirucamilo.ga Hashmi- India A History by John Keay . A Brief History of India and millions of other books are available for site .. Another thing that this book show is the evolution of the religions of India that are . Aug 22, A few days ago we asked everyone on our Facebook and Twitter pages to recommend a book on Indian history. Many of you responded with.
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Jan 1, Thoroughly covering India's political history over the latter half of the 20th century, the book is also a good primer for understanding India's. Nov 4, There is no single book that could cover the entire “Indian history” in the best way possible. However, you can divide the entire history into different time periods. Books shelved as indian-history: India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha, The Wonder That Rate this book.
Ultimately, the book serves to leave the reader looking for more detail. Jun 21, Andrew Fish rated it it was ok. The history of a subcontinent is bound to be a complex affair. The more people, the more going on, and the more needs to be simplified and cut down to make a manageable volume.
Most historians look for trends: Maybe for India these developments don't The history of a subcontinent is bound to be a complex affair. Maybe for India these developments don't exist. Certainly Keay's work gives that impression. Once he's got out of prehistory, about half the book is consumed with little more than a series of wars, whether between the various regional leaders, between the natives and the invading forces of Mongols and Turks, or between rulers and their sons, the violence seems endless.
The cast of characters is large, with names and places passing by in a blink of history's eye, but none of them ever seem to have substance. Mentions of anything else seem little more than cursory, with the Taj Mahal referred to only in passing and the entire colonial enterprise of Portugal reduced to a couple of paragraphs. Buddha gets a little more than that, but not much so. Until, that is, the British arrive. Keay's view of British India is somewhat confused. During the rise of the East India Company and its transmutation into the Raj, he clearly regards it as little short of evil.
Explaining why a country which seems thus far to have done nothing but make war for over a thousand years is made worse by the arrival of Europeans is difficult, but Keay gives it his best shot, often using tortured justifications such as the claim that Indian military escapades never went beyond the "natural borders" of the country a way of thinking which could equally have been applied to justifying Hitler's annexations or by playing up the apparent racism of some Brits and more or less ignoring the period in which many ex-pats started adopting Indian dress, customs and even wives.
Similarly, when it comes to the uprising of , Keay does his best to gloss over the massacre of women and children by the Rani of Jhansi's troops whilst making political capital from the savagery of British retribution. By sugar-coating one side of the story, Keay turns his two-page account of the struggle into a creation myth to rank alongside the version of the American War of Independence spoonfed to US children.
Where the book performs better is in its later stages, when it looks at the rise of the nationalist movement, the road to independence and its aftermath. Although the narrative is still littered with character assassinations of the British political class mostly, it has to be said, of those on the right , it does at least make it clear that giving autonomy to such a complex land - one which had never been a single nation before - wasn't going to be a simple process.
The politics of regions with different ethnic balances, different political cultures and systems, of the competing interests of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, make it clear that Britain was never going to leave India whole and happy. That an attempt at partition had already failed in Bengal is balanced against the point that the Muslims had already been agitating for a separate nation and had themselves coined the name Pakistan before the British ever broached the notion.
Beyond partition, Keay also becomes more balanced, seeking justifications for the struggles over Kashmir or Indira Ghandi's assumption of absolute authority. Whilst this approach is welcome, it beggars the question of why it was absent throughout the rest of the book. A real analysis of the way in which India's history had shaped its peoples could have made it clearer whether an equitable solution to the problem of independence had ever been possible.
The fears of federalism being a Trojan Horse for ongoing British interference may not have been groundless, but could such a scheme have prevented the violence which followed partition? Whilst the Cold War and the Middle East crisis of the s clearly impacted the Indian subcontinent, was it inevitable that these would lead to military dictatorships, fundamentalism and the wary nuclear balance we have today?
Was it possible that a federal India might have instead become an example of successful religious pluralism for the wider world? The ultimate impression I received from Keay's book was it was written by a man who didn't want to answer these questions; rather he wanted to grind his axe on the perceived failings of the British Empire.
My quest for a more balanced history therefore continues. Aug 21, Gisselle rated it really liked it Shelves: A fantastic introduction to Indian history. Not just a play by play account of who did what, Keay manages to write about issues in the historiography of India and interpretative changes clearly, and events are often written in a compelling and sometimes humorous way. I am in no way a scholar of South Asian history, so perhaps for someone who knows more it wouldn't help as much, but as someone who has read plenty of history books academic and pop this one is one of the better ones.
Sep 08, Frank rated it really liked it Shelves: In order to truly understand a country's history, one must also understand the country's language and culture.
While I am still far from where I'd like to be in terms of understanding India, this book provided a great introduction on the key events throughout this country and its neighboring areas from c BC to today.
Throughout this journey, I experienced many emotions: Some say this was worse than the Holocaust, but I've never heard any American history classes in high school cover this topic. It goes to show that history can be forgotten if no one is aware, no matter how much documentation is presented. Have read my fair share of paged history texts, and have also read John Keay's lesser-known China: A History - so am no stranger to the genre.
But perhaps because India's history especially pre-Mughal is so fragmented and chaotic and undocumented - the bulk of this book meant wading through a confusing maelstrom of names, places, dynasties, Sanskrit terms and conjectures without being anchored to any clear historical trend.
One can finish entire chapters and still have only a very vague n Have read my fair share of paged history texts, and have also read John Keay's lesser-known China: One can finish entire chapters and still have only a very vague notion of what exactly transpired and what it meant historically.
Keay's book on China's History was much more readable and enjoyable. Ironically a separate book, JM Roberts's Penguin History of the World - while dedicating only a fraction of words to India as Keay's - provided a much more coherent and succinct overview of India's history. I suspect one can merely further augment Roberts's book with other books on India's modern history and emerge better informed on India's history, as opposed to tunneling through Keay's walls of words in this one.
When I started reading this book last February, I had hoped to get done in about a month. Taking copious notes, stopping to read Wikipedia in between, I soon realized something.
At pages, I had assumed that the book would be really comprehensive. So it had to be read slowly, with a lot of deliberation, fact checking. But as we progressed from prehistory, to Vedic age and then to Gupta period, it became clear that pages were not only insufficient but paltry. As we approached more recent t When I started reading this book last February, I had hoped to get done in about a month. As we approached more recent time periods, all that could be managed was a quick pointing of fingers to interesting events, providing a overall perspective, comment briefly about any popularly held notions about the proceedings and move on.
So note taking stopped, and I read more quickly, knowing that I'll be coming back to it to reread in parts, to discover new threads and then go out to explore them. Within the above framework, John Keay does an amazing job.
I felt the book weakened towards the end. Although I enjoyed reading about the Freedom Struggle from a non-Indian point of view.
But on the other hand, I knew little about the Gadar Party members returning to India and being caught. This is what I meant above - while reading the portion about the Freedom Struggle, I constantly felt that too much is missing, there were still facts and perspectives that were new and informative. I intend to read more Histories after this, including the much acclaimed India After Gandhi. Perhaps I'll come back after that and have a better or worse opinion of this one.
But it is certainly as good a starting point as any. Jan 05, Virag Padalkar rated it it was amazing. I would have thought it would be impossible to compress a history of the Indian subcontinent into so few pages.
But John Keay has done that with a certain degree of success.
From the Harappan civilization in BC to modern-day India at the end of the 20th century, Keay has done a remarkable job in presenting a coherent flow to an otherwise mad-cap tale. Since Goodreads is a forum for readers, I will not let my Indianness bring in a certain bias to my review and shall stick to a review of the bo I would have thought it would be impossible to compress a history of the Indian subcontinent into so few pages.
Since Goodreads is a forum for readers, I will not let my Indianness bring in a certain bias to my review and shall stick to a review of the book structure and writing style itself more than the content. While the historical authenticity of the book is pretty well-referenced through citations and sources, the writing style itself is crisp and methodical.
There are not too many digressions from the theme of whatever century Keay is writing about despite having a lot of sub-plots to work with. That was always going to be a trade-off; having a much larger volume and do justice to more sub-plots and regional stories or keep it crisp and present a structured flow to the "Idea of India".
Overall, the book brings forth the varied and tumultuous history of the Indian subcontinent in relatively accurate and time-bound fashion.
Kudos on a job well done. This tome attempts something very ambitious - to summarize the history of India from pre-historic times to "the boom of the 21st century" sic.
In the end, it ends up being precisely that - a summary. A good book as an introduction to Indian history, but not recommended for an attempt to dig deeper. The biggest negative of this book is that its approach is far too top-down. There is a virtual absence of subaltern history; particularly as the time-line tends towards Modern India; there is a decen This tome attempts something very ambitious - to summarize the history of India from pre-historic times to "the boom of the 21st century" sic.
There is a virtual absence of subaltern history; particularly as the time-line tends towards Modern India; there is a decent enough summary of society in Ancient India, but nothing spectacular. The biggest positive of this book is that it is not Delhi-centric. Equal length is given to different periods and regions - although it may well be argued that the length in itself is inadequate.
It is also useful in understanding a British perspective of British India. All-in-all, good. But can be made better by combining this as a political read with another sub-altern book. Aug 10, Mike Edwards rated it liked it Shelves: A broad "names and dates" overview of South Asian history, starting from earliest civilization and moving all the way up through the 20th century. Keay does an admirable job of synthesizing a wide variety of historical sources.
The book can be a bit dry at times when describing the interplay of the many states and empires, and it could definitely use more maps and dynastic charts when describing the pre-Mughal eras. The author seems most comfortable, and the writing the most fluid, when he break A broad "names and dates" overview of South Asian history, starting from earliest civilization and moving all the way up through the 20th century.
The author seems most comfortable, and the writing the most fluid, when he breaks away from the dynastic struggles to discuss poetry, architecture, or religion. Also the book is long on "what" happened, and makes very little attempt to explain the "why", at least with anything before the British arrived. Still, as a single volume primer in Indian history, it is definitely a book worth keeping around.
Sep 03, Luke rated it it was ok Shelves: This book is kinda terrible. The beginning was ok, and the end was decent, but everything after Harappa and before the Mughals was absolutely brutal to read.
This makes some sense given that India has never been a unified state until independence, although it did come close under the Mughals and the British Raj. Because of India's disunity, it is difficult to write a historical narrative especially when earlier documents are scattered, if extant at all. But, surely there would have been some b This book is kinda terrible. But, surely there would have been some better way to frame this book in a way where it has meaning rather than a series of disjointed figures and events only linked together by their Indian-ness.
I'll find something else to read to fill in the gaps, and I recommend staying away from this one. May 01, Sharang Limaye rated it it was amazing. Easily the best book one has read across genres in the last few years. History can be boring for some what with the plethora of dates and royal names. But John Keay makes the subject as racy as a Ken Follet thriller. He describes a span of about 5, years over pages but never does the reader feel a lack of detail.
There are no biases of nationality or faith or ideology. Keay's analyses of factors that shaped the Indian subcontinent are insightful and must have involved back-breaking resear Easily the best book one has read across genres in the last few years.
Keay's analyses of factors that shaped the Indian subcontinent are insightful and must have involved back-breaking research. A strong recommendation for anyone looking to understand the present-day complexities of the region. A fascinating subject was unfortunately rendered extremely dull.
This might suite a novel but it does not suit a history book at all. I want to know who the important people and events were and a bit about them. I thus feel very let down by this. Keay likes to introduce people with little background build up and then get rid of them just as quickly. He likes to drop in Nehru and Gandhi when talking about civilisation years before their tim A fascinating subject was unfortunately rendered extremely dull. He likes to drop in Nehru and Gandhi when talking about civilisation years before their time.
I now have to find another history book of india better suited to actually tell the history of india. Oct 07, Gunajit Haloi rated it it was amazing.
The most comprehensive, up to date and objective history of India that I have read till date. Any student of Indian history will be enriched by reading this book. A monumental work, yet one that is eminently readable and immensely enjoyable. Only shortcoming I found was that the narrative felt a bit rushed at times. But that may be unavoidable considering this is a single volume history of a subcontinent spanning 6 millenia and not missing any notable event that.
Highly recommended. Aug 19, Bharath rated it it was amazing. Spell binding! This is THE book for all amateur history buffs.
History was never so fascinating, John Keay has a knack with words and facts. He chisels them, embellishes them with interesting anecdotes, polishes them and finally leaves it to the reader to paint his own picture on it.
Vivid, sprawling, ambitious and worthy of an epic. Truly is a classic and leaves the reader wanting for more. Oct 03, Ernesto Alaniz rated it it was ok. The history seems to be conjecture until we get to Alexander the Great. It is hard to construe a narrative out of next to nothing. Once we enter recorded history, the book actually becomes interesting. This book sits somewhere between a popular history and a textbook. Although it provides an overview of the entirety of Indian history, and thus can cover no one particular era in full detail, and is clearly aimed at beginners, do not mistake it for a frothy, light read.
This is a fairly weighty tome, covering its subjects in a surprising amount of depth. A minor negative is that Keay sometimes goes off on tangential anecdotes when y This book sits somewhere between a popular history and a textbook. However, the book is cogent and very well researched, and does what it sets out to do very well.
Dec 20, Sandhya Sekar rated it it was amazing. Keay has the rare gift of making history un-put-down-able. Loved it. Jun 04, Gaurav Gupta rated it really liked it. There may be a reason why foreign writers are better to read if one want to read Indian history in an unbiased manner without any ideological spectacle and this book is an example of it. He tries to play a role of an umpire among various sides but in current day scenario just as umpire can make error of judgment and have his own faults, he too is not fully impartial as a third umpire should be.
India by John Keay can be the most apt reading if one want to understand more than year old Indian There may be a reason why foreign writers are better to read if one want to read Indian history in an unbiased manner without any ideological spectacle and this book is an example of it. India by John Keay can be the most apt reading if one want to understand more than year old Indian civilization by reading in a single book.
It is planned in a logical manner by segmenting Indian history into various important themes. However it will be correct to say that it is not mere history of India but Indian subcontinent which includes present day Pakistan and Bangladesh also — so in that sense the author do justice to history by presenting it as continuum of various incidents related to Indian sub-continent and hence should be seen together if one wants to understand the whole historical context.
The author has interesting and witty style which makes reading very interesting, probably because of having a journalist way of telling a story.
He has presented the perspective being neutral doing away with ideological biases of mainstream history writings — such Marxist school, Orientalist school and Nationalist school — without glorification or condemnation. At some parts his vocabulary is slightly complex for a person like me but still can be read in a fluent manner. In this respect, he presents the Pakistani side of story too to Indian readers giving context as to why Pakistan failed to have stable democracy and what factors are responsible for its anti-India stand and stand on Kashmir issue.
However his unbiased and neutral perspective seems to take shift towards defending and absolving many of the British decisions and colonial policies, for example he tried to absolve any British role in encouraging separatist tendencies manifested by Muslim league and other such elements which ultimately led to partition where he tried to squarely blame sectarian divide of the Indian society only.
I give up. Here's my most-of-the-way and slow-going review. The author knows what he's talking about. He has taken centuries and centuries of data and compiled it into a logical timeline, showing the rise and fall of the dynasties throughout Indian history.
He takes events that seem isolated and unimportant and places them in a historical context - a valuable skills for any historian. The problem is that while the author clearly has a fine grip on the facts or at least the evidence an Alright. The problem is that while the author clearly has a fine grip on the facts or at least the evidence and the currently held logical conclusions , he doesn't know how to WRITE prose that isn't clunky and overly academic. More than once while reading this I had to stop, restart a sentence or paragraph and read it again.
Then again. Then aloud. I'm not a slow reader, nor am I one who has poor reading comprehension. But when I have to repeat - out loud - a sentence multiple times in order to parse the sentence structure, there is something wrong. When I can't immediately tell which verb belongs with which predicate and adverbial phrase, the editor let something slip.
There are ways to make this kind of writing easy to understand, and by no means am I suggesting that the vocabulary be simplified or the content "dumbed down" to suit a less intelligent audience. That defeats the purpose. I'm saying that having such a stilted and clumsy prose just distracts from the message and the facts, making your book less meaningful.
That said, if you have any interest in a sweeping survey of Indian history, one that focuses on more than just Post-Colonial period, this is an invaluable resource. Keep in mind that there was a new edition recently that includes more modern history, while the first edition pretty much ended with Gandhi's victories.
Few people can be up to the challenge of such a work as this; an area the size of Western Europe, for a time spanning some four thousand years, many of which have seriously sparse historical texts. Keay rises to the challenge magnificently. He complains, in his introduction, of histories which accelerate as they get more and more recent and sources become more numerous. He states his intention to 'fuzz' towards the end to get a more balanced picture.
He does not quite succeed in this, devoting s Few people can be up to the challenge of such a work as this; an area the size of Western Europe, for a time spanning some four thousand years, many of which have seriously sparse historical texts. He does not quite succeed in this, devoting several chapters to the post-Independence era, but that is no criticism; such a way of doing history is testament to the way culture and economics have changed in the modern era.
He would observe, no doubt, that this does not affect the fact that history is always about people at all times, and indeed he laments the fact that there are few accounts of ordinary individuals; until the advent of rolling news, that is, when the tragedies that have afflicted the poor are catalogued in a surfeit of almost microscopic detail. Moreover, the history he chronicles with such judiciously chosen detail six hundred pages, small type is important in so far as it teaches us about the trials and challenges of the subcontinent of our own time.
And this is something of which we in the West - especially the guilt-ridden post-Imperial British, myself included - cannot afford to be ignorant.
Apr 13, Sai Chand rated it really liked it Shelves: A random search in the online bookstores led me to this book. The book presents the facts in an unbiased manner. This is evident in the initial chapters, where the author provides different accounts of the Indian Gods. He makes a very good attempt to cover the earlier civilizations and medieval India, of which there are not m After reading India After Gandhi, I wanted to read a book on the pre-independence India.
He makes a very good attempt to cover the earlier civilizations and medieval India, of which there are not many sources of literature around. It is one of the most accurate books which have been painstakingly written after thorough research based on legal and valid verbal and written sources. Indian Art and Culture by Nithin Singhania is a recent entry, but a really good work.
The content is also supported with a plethora of questions that will help students to prepare for the examination. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania. History and Culture are very related topics, particularly with respect to ancient and medieval India.
Asoka and Buddhism are deeply bonded, the same way we cannot study Shah Jahan without commenting on Taj Mahal. So your approach to studying Indian History should never be limited to Political History where we study the names and wars of Kings but should be very broad to cover other aspects of Social and Economic History too. Alex is the founder of ClearIAS.
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Hello sir i just want to tell this thing your book notse details in English medium is this avaliable in hindi medium if you have then can you get me the following book or notse details in hindi medium. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Learn more. Share 5K.