India: A Concise History / Edition 2

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The history of India is a story of many states and empires which begins in the third millennium BC with the Indus Valley civilization. The subsequent influx of pastoral nomads, first in a long series of invasions from the northwest that included the Moghuls nearly 3,000 years later, established the Vedic religious tradition. In a gradual assimilation of popular cults, formalization of the Sanskrit language, and the institution of caste, this tradition supplied the cohesion upon which a national consciousness, in its Western sense, is a comparatively recent grafting.

In modern times, two hundred years of British ascendancy were followed in the twentieth century by India taking its place among the nation-states of the modern world. For this revised edition, a new chapter by Dilip Hiro covers the events that have taken place in India from the 1980s to the present day. The enduring distinctiveness of India, its widely recognized but often bewildering "diversity of unity," emerges from these pages as a product of geographical simplicity and historical complexity. 186 illustrations and 4 maps.

Author Biography: The late Francis Watson was Director of Counter-Propaganda to the Government of India and the author of Gandhi, The Trial of Mr. Gandhi, and The Frontiers of China. A journalist and commentator on Asian affairs, Dilip Hiro's many books include Inside India Today, Dictionary of the Middle East, and Holy Wars: The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism.

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Editorial Reviews

History Today
A brilliant condensation of an overwhelming mass of material and manages to preserve a masterly overall balance.
Irish Times
An excellent basic guide to a vast and fascinating country.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500283738
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Edition description: Revised & Updated Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 7.18 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Table of Contents

Prefatory note 7
1 Introduction: Unity and Diversity 11
2 The Roots: Men and Cities, the Coming of the Aryans, Gods, Kings and Sages 21
3 The Light of Asia: The Power of Ideas, the Rise of Magadha, Alexander on the Indus, the Mauryan Empire 39
4 The Heirs of Ashoka: Indo-Greeks and Scythians, the Kushan Prelude, the Imperial Guptas, Harsha of Kanauj 53
5 The Deccan and the South: The Trade Factor, the Andhra Supremacy, Regional Conflicts, the Expansive South, the Empire of the Cholas 71
6 The Impact of Islam: Arabs and Ghaznavids, the Feudal Scene in the North, the Turco-Afghan Paramountcy 87
7 Moghuls and Europeans: Christians and Spices, the First Four Moghuls, the New Arrivals, Aurangzeb and the Break-Up of the Moghul Empire, the Anglo-French Involvement 105
8 The British Period: The Path to Paramountcy, Reform and Revolt, the Victorian Zenith, the Tide of Nationalism 129
9 The new India: Freedom by Division, the Shape of Development, India in the World 159
10 India after Nehru: The Dynastic Succession, Into the Twenty-First Century 175
Select Bibliography 186
List of Illustrations 191
Index 196
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2002

    Biased Presentation

    Though the author clearly states that this book is a concise history of India, but readers still expect an impartial view of the history and some justice to the subject matter. This book has an almost clinical feel to it- very cut and dry. Emphasis has been placed on names, places and dates rather than the bigger picture, which might be expected of such a small book attempting to cover more than 5000 years of Indian history. Sometime rambling sometimes lucid text is densely written and drops subtle hints of British superiority. I started reading the book and had not looked at the biography of the author. Almost 1/3rd of the way through the book, a clear pattern emerged wherein the author tried to project that much of what the world knows of India¿s glory is a result of British efforts. And how the British brought civility and culture to India. It also seemed that the image that the author projected of India was along the lines of what a British "sahib" may have thought of the locals. It was then that I read the author's biography and saw that he was Director of Counter-Propaganda to the Government of India. From the period when he served the government it is obvious that the author was not employed by Government of Independent India but the British Government ruling India (which technically speaking was also the Government of India). I really feel that justice was not done to the subject matter. Maybe someone who is both- a patriotic Indian and a history buff- might enjoy some aspects of this book. An average reader would find the treatment of this subject poor (and boring) at worst and mediocre at best. I would not recommend this book.

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