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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

The Puffin History of India for Children

HT Books, PTI   February 18, 2003
First Published: 11:04 IST(12/12/2002) | Last Updated: 12:04 IST(18/2/2003)

The Puffin History of India for Children
Roshen Dalal
Non-fiction
Penguin Books
New Delhi, 2002 (Second Edition)
Pages: 404
Price: Rs. 299
Paperback

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Simply written histories of India are rare. And in demand, as was proved by the first edition of this book so well. The book was even translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. So one was pleased to hear of a revised, updated edition being brought out.

For one, the book does not abruptly begin narrating the history but provides a much-needed background to the land, as well as a brief story of human evolution. Technical terms in history like palaeolithic, site or circa are explained. Thereafter the book follows a chronological mode, for the 5000 odd years of Indic history.

There are many things going for the book. The book is in paperback, making it easier to handle, especially as it has grown in size. The chapters are short, and with ample subheads to make reading easy. The language is simple. Though the stress continues to be on North Indian history, the other regions are not neglected. Many facets of regional history that are left out in regular school texts find a place here.

There is no unnecessary glorification of the past, the blemishes being acknowledged along with the achievements. Quotations like Vedic hymns or descriptions of megalithic ‘hero stones’ make history come alive.

With a map or an illustration on almost every double spread, this book is profusely illustrated and helps in understanding the book so much better. Even if the illustrations, and the maps, are of uneven quality. Certainly the placing of maps could be improved. Oddly enough, some of the maps and illustration have been chopped off, while others that needed trimming haven’t been!

These minor blemishes apart, what stands out is the sheer volume of information packed into the book. In a way that makes it easy to understand and absorb, not just for a child, but for anyone who wants to get his basics on Indian history clear.

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