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The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to Ad 1300: Volume 1 (A History of India #1)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  624 ratings  ·  33 reviews
A full account of Indian history from the establishment of Aryan culture to the coming of the Mughals in 1526 A.D. This work brings to life thousands of years of history, tracing India's evolution before contact with modern Europe was established: its prehistoric beginnings; the great cities of the Indus civilization; the emergence of mighty dynasties such as the Mauryas, ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Penguin Books
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This is an erudite and impressive work. A social, economic, cultural and religious history of India from the origins to 1300 CE. Romila Thapar is a very well-known historian in India and her texts are widely used in universities here. She is also infamous in the Hindutva circles because of her Marxist credentials, but that’s only a political opposition rather than any academic criticism.

She gives only a brief overview of pre-history and starts with the first urbanisation in the Indus valley civ
Vikas Lather
To describe Romila Thapar, I would like to employ (with slight variation) an unknown quote by a famous journalist for Indira Gandhi, "She is the only MAN among the Indian intellectuals"

Early India is one of the best books I have read this year. Romila Thapar is among handful of Indian intellectuals who have the courage to stand up against the cultural rape of our history. She is not famous among Hindutava circle because her work stands between their ambition to distort the past and depress the
I enjoy reading history, and am just becoming interested in the history of India and central Asia. I figured a Penguin book on the topic would be just what I needed. That was not the case. I was looking for a book which told me stories about Indian history, instead I got a soulless Marxist manifesto.

This year I've read two great history books - "The Fall of the Roman Empire" by Peter Heather, and "Consuming Passions" by Judith Flanders. Both were great books which entertained me and left me wit
The first half of the book is quite interesting where Thapar talks about historiography and how biases and agendas of diverse groups affect their periodization and narrative of history, and the book begins quite promisingly with a the description of the social milieu. However, in the later chapters, especially after the Gupta empire or so the book becomes too unfocussed and difficult to follow when it ends up as a listing of too many facts without any sort of clear thread of events. Sure, histor ...more
Bijo Mathew Philip
Well its Romila Thaper... informative and based on research but definitely it is not a tale.

Not inspiring and difficult to complete...
I wanted to flesh out my understanding of early Indian history, especially in the realms of politics, economics, art, and regional differences. I also wanted an accessible "master narrative" from a premier social historian. The narrative is there from time to time, but this book is mostly details. On the plus side, names and dates of dynasties and wars, descriptions of terms of art found in each period's texts, and a brief fleshing out of technological and religious advances. On the minus, somet ...more
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Himanshu Bhatnagar
Penguin claims this book "brings Indian History to life". I would posit that this book and its author kill Indian history, dismember the corpse, burn the remains and plod mechanically through the ashes.
Now that I've vent my spleen, so to speak, let's vent a little more. :)
This isn't a book meant for the lay reader or the history buff. If anyone, it is suited for First Year students of BA (History). You lucky guys can just copy-paste paragraphs from the book right into your answer sheets. :D
To ca
Ritwik P
Her presentation of history is accurate and detailed. She puts forth the reason for what happened and deduces on the effect of all parameters that make history. Its not just a compendium of facts but helps one think and make one's own deductions of those facts. Good Read
Vijay Bharwad
A comprehensive but very concise review of 3000 years of Indian history (up to 1300 AD). In a little over 300 pages, Prof. Thapar provides a tour of the arrival of the Aryans in India, Alexander's raid, the Mauryan empire and the interregnum that followed its collapse, the classical age of the Guptas, the southern Indian empires, the early Sultanate period, up to the demise of Vijayanagar. The story ends with the Mughals entering India from the north, even as European explorers find their way to ...more
Benjamin Siegel
The book is poorly billed as an introductory text, but is a superlative review of early Indian history and historiography. Wish Islam got a bit more billing in the later sections, and the organization is sometimes confusing, but a very good advanced primer, if that's a thing.
Shankar Kashyap
An excellent subject ruined by inaccuracies and inconsistencies throughout the book. Difficult to read and extremely dry!!
a good book on history should start with geography, this is one of such books
It's more of a social history, concentrating in movements of groups of people say into South India, or how guilds might have conducted trade in the "middle ages"; rather than on the exploits of rulers and the battles they fought. The book was a real eye opener for me.

Romila Thapar is the most balanced and respected historian in the country presently and has no leanings (Marxist or Communalist).
For Sergei: in memoriam 
and remembering Kaushalya and Daya Ram
and our many years together.
Opening: The modern writing of Indian history began with colonial perceptions of the Indian past that were to be seminal to its subsequent interpretations. It took shape with the beginnings of colonial rule in various parts of the subcontinent from the eighteenth century onwards.

To check up:

twelfth-century history of Kashmir, the Rajatarangini, written by Kalhana.

Max Weber

Not an engaging text ye
This is a good summary of other works. The period spanned by this book is pretty big and I found myself getting lost in some of the narrative. The structure is pretty taut and covers a lot of ground. It does tend to gloss over aspects of peninsular megalithic cultures. As a first book on peninsular culture though, it works really well. 3.5.
who knew ancient and medieval indian history could be this fun?

well, it is. romila thapar's even-handed treatment of the historical record is highly readable and packed full of insight. a great go-to resource for anyone interested in gaining a general background to early indian history.
Read it as a textbook for a history of India class. Had no idea Indian history was so immensely controversial before taking the class and reading this book. Fascinating subject for many reasons.
Thorough, detailed account of India's history with attention to the socio-political environment of each era.
Romi Mahajan
Dec 17, 2007 Romi Mahajan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in a primer on Indian History
Absolutely the most readable early introduction to Indian history-readable and brilliant.
Good update on the factual findings and excavations in gujarat and Pakistan
very good book for history lovers, must must read this book.
Ramana Varanasi
informative, but too much academic treatment is tiring.
Quite a good history - but not comprehensive.
Anil Puniya
i want to understand history in deep
authoritative Early Indian History.
Jun 23, 2008 Sarah added it
Traditional India required reading
Its good and interesting
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Romila Thapar is an Indian historian and Professor Emeritus at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

A graduate from Panjab University, Dr. Thapar completed her PhD in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Her historical work portrays the origins of Hinduism as an evolving interplay between social forces. Her recent work on Somnath examines the evolution of t
More about Romila Thapar...

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A History of India (2 books)
  • A History of India: Volume 2: From the 16th Century to the 20th Century
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