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India: A History
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About the Author

John Keay is a writer, broadcaster and historian whose books include `Into India', `India Discovered', `When Men and Mountains Meet', `Highland Drove', `The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company', `The Great Arc', `China: A History' and (with his wife, Julia Keay) the `Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland'. He has travelled extensively in India and the Far East, and specialised in Asian history and current affairs.

Reviews

India's sprawling history in one volume, with 60 maps, tables, and charts to boot. From a noted historian of Southeast Asia, this is touted as the first single-volume study in over 20 years. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

`A delight...one of the best general studies of the subcontinent.' Andrew Lycett, Sunday Times

`Ambitious, colourful and fascinating.' Lawrence James, The Times

`It is hard to imagine anyone succeeding more gracefully in producing a balanced overview than John Keay has done in `India: A History'...a book that is as fluent and readable as it is up-to-date and impartial. Hardly a page passes without some fascinating nugget or surprising fact...one can only hope that John Keay's `India' will be widely read, and its lessons taken to heart.' Guardian

`Certainly the most balanced and lucid history...his passion for India shines through and illuminates every page...puts Keay in the front rank of Indian historiographers.' Spectator

Sweeping from the ancient brick cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, built in the Indus Valley around 2000 B.C., to modern India's urban middle class armed with computers and cell phones, this erudite, panoramic history captures the flow of Indian civilization. No apologist for Britannia's rule, British historian Keay (Into India, etc.) gives the lie to comforting fantasies of the British Raj as the benevolently run "Jewel in the Crown." For most Indians, "Pax Britannica meant mainly `Tax Britannica,'" he writes. Nor was British-ruled India peaceful, he adds, because India became a launch pad for British wars against Indonesia, Nepal and Burma, for the invasion of Afghanistan and the quashing of native revolts--often with the coerced participation of Indian troops. Finally, the Raj was "Axe Britannica," beginning the extensive deforestation of the subcontinent and the systematic suppression of its rural economy. Keay challenges much conventional scholarship in a dispassionate chronicle based largely on a fresh look at primary sources. For instance, the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, enthroned in 268 B.C., is revered because he preached tolerance and renounced armed violence, yet Keay notes that, contrary to popular opinion, Ashoka never specifically abjured warfare nor did he disband his army. Keay concludes this illustrated history by astutely surveying India's erratic progress in the half-century since independence, marked by communal violence, resurgence of regional interests and the rise of Hindu nationalism. This careful study serves up a banquet for connoisseurs and serious students of India. (Mar.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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