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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

India @ 70: 5 books that capture India’s freedom struggle, independence and partition

Independence Day 2017: Here are 5 books about India and its history you should read, even if you’re not a book lover.

books Updated: Aug 14, 2017 09:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
India After Gandhi and The Last Mughal both offer insight into India’s history in different ways.
India After Gandhi and The Last Mughal both offer insight into India’s history in different ways.

Books have a way of capturing the past in a way history textbooks can’t quite. Over the past seven decades, many writers, historians, political leaders and academicians have written about the colonisation of India, its efforts to gain independence, and finally, the aftermath of getting independence. Here are our top 5 picks:

1) The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru

From 1942 to 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned at the Admednagar Fort in Maharashtra, to keep him away from political limelight. Like many thinkers, he too took to the pen while in jail and wrote The Discovery of India. It’s a mix of Nehru’s observations, India’s rich and much praised cultural history, historical facts, and more. Read this regardless of your political leanings.

2) Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre

American writer Larry Collins and French writer Dominique Lapierre wrote many successful historical books together. In Freedom at Midnight, they chronicle events in the last year of the British rule. It sheds light on how callously the boundary separating India and Pakistan was drawn, the responses by princely states, and the mass migration and genocide that followed the independence.

Remnants of a Separation is a crossover between history and anthropology.
Remnants of a Separation is a crossover between history and anthropology.

3) Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra

Artist and oral historian Aanchal Malhotra was born into a family affected by the partition. Her recently launched debut book is a crossover between history and anthropology. It tells stories from both sides of the border through stories and the objects carried across borders by migrants. Malhotra’s interest in the subject was sparked after she discovered items like a maang-tikka, a pocket knife, and a set of kitchen utensils which her ancestors carried with them during the Partition.

4) India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

One of India’s most known historians, Ramachandra Guha perfects captures free India and the various protests and conflicts since. He also provides an insight into the lives and careers of powerful political leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. A well-researched book, India After Gandhi won the Sahitya Akademi Award for English in 2011. It’s a must-read to understand a complex country like India.

5) The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

Dalrymple, who has lived in India for several years, looks at the sepoy mutiny of 1857 like no one else. The book chronicles the fall of the Mughal Empire, as the British slowly took over the India. The book examines the events leading up the mutiny and its aftermath through the life of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last emperor.

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First Published: Aug 14, 2017 09:02 IST