An American Witness To India's Partition

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This volume is a collection of Phillips Talbot’s letters written between 1938 and 1950, on the buildup to the independence of India and Pakistan, and the early experiences of the new states. Talbot’s letters and reports from the field, presented here in the original, include his first-hand observations on student life at Aligarh Muslim University, local life in a small Muslim community in Kashmir, a Vedic ashram in Lahore, Tagore’s Shantiniketan, Gandhi’s Sevagram, the Kodaikanal Ashram Fellowship, and Hindu and Muslim urban communities in Lahore and Bombay, and Afghanistan. For anybody wishing to get a ground-level view of South Asian society in its decisive decade, these letters from an American observer promise to be an enjoyable read.
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Editorial Reviews

The International History Review

Talbot’s book is largely a collection of enlightening, serious, and highly entertaining letters he wrote between 1938 and 1950 from India….The value of Talbot’s book is enhanced by the afterword, written sixty years after the independence and partition of British India…This book is worth reading, partly because Talbot’s professionalism is evident on every page, partly because his insights inform readers about how and why the India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh of 2008 are different from the British India of 1938.

The Indian Express
This volume is a compilation of letters he sent back to the Institute of Current World Affairs. Put in context by historian B R Nanda, they unfold the events as they happened…Especially valuable are reports of long stretches spent in the company of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel or Jinnah-besides his more or less sociological observations in these transformational times, including a stint in Santiniketan.
Ainslie T Embree
An American Witness to Indiàs Partition is a book to be read with feelings of both regret and pleasure as India celebrates her sixtieth year of Independence. Regret for a different path that might have been taken, pleasure that things have turned out so well after the dark days of 1947.
Ralph Buultjens
Written with extraordinary verve and insight, this magnificent work brings alive Indiàs greatest generation and their achievements. Rare is the book on India in which the past so illumines the present.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761936183
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 9/29/2007
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillips Talbot is President Emeritus, The Asia Society, USA. A distinguished journalist, he was the India correspondent of the Chicago Daily News in 1946. In 1961 the Kennedy administration named him Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, covering the geographic area from Greece to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). He has served as Ambassador to Greece from 1965 to 1969, and is a trustee emeritus of the Aspen Institute, the US-Japan Foundation and a number of other Asia-related organizations. His writings include South Asia in the World Today (edited); India and America: A Study of Their Relations (co-authored with S. L. Poplai); India in the 1980s and numerous other articles and reports.

In 2002 the Indian Government awarded him the Padma Shri. He has also received the (New Delhi) Institute of Economic Studies’ Bhartiya Shiromani Puraskar, the (Bombay) Indo-American Society’s Annual Citation, the (New York) Taraknath Das Foundation’s Distinguished Award, and the (Washington) Embassy of India’s Videsh Samman.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by B R Nanda
India In London
My Introduction to India and its Politics
Kashmir and Lahore
Tour of Afghanistan, Novemeber 12-26, 1940
Gandhi's Ashram; and on to War Service
India after the War
Indian Ashrams, 1947
Asian Relations Conference and Beyond
Finally, the Arrival of Independence
Two Years after Independence
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