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A Princely Imposter? The Kumar Of Bhawal And The Secret History Of Indian Nationalism
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A Princely Imposter? The Kumar Of Bhawal And The Secret History Of Indian Nationalism

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  67 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
This book tells the incredible story of the prince as pauper, of pauper as resurrected prince. Partha Chatterjee's retelling of the notoriously famous 'Bhawal Sannyasi Case' - one of India's best known and most historic legal battles - is narrative history of the finest kind. It is an epic story of war within a household which spills out into the social life of colonial Be ...more
Hardcover, 429 pages
Published 2002 by Permanent Black
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Oct 09, 2014 Nithya rated it really liked it
One hell of a read, touch it only if you understand or liking about case history, british colonial laws and fraud investigation. The author throws in a bit of philosophy as well, touching basing on Indian logic ( tharka). You will get to know more of Bengal, and particularly how they viewed others. Reducing a star, just for the sake, as to how many would be interested to the philosophy of identification and as to why its necessary when you are trying to put in a point of Indian Nationalism. A wh ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
Nearly 1500 witnesses, 11,327 pages of printed text, three volumes of photographs, a record totalling 26 volumes - and that was just the trial court record - the Bhawal Sannyasi case was not only one of mammoth proportions in terms of the sheer number of people and material it involved but certainly one of the most interesting cases in Colonial India. Chatterjee does a fantastic job of giving readers an interesting and very readable account. While the book is centred around the trial, it is not ...more
Aletha Tavares
Jun 12, 2007 Aletha Tavares rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical buff
about a half naked sadu in 1921 who comes back to his family in dhaka.He was supposed to have been cremated by his brother- in-law in darjeeling, he is disowned by his wife, but only his sisters swear by him. This of course is set during the time of time of indian nationalism, it brings to the forefront the concept of what constitutes identity. It also draws upon the zamindari system prevalent at the time, the british legal system that crept in. Partha in this book narrates the most historic leg ...more
Feb 02, 2010 Sravanthi rated it it was amazing
Loved the way the narrative moves. As a friend said, its like a racy detective novel. But what was totally addictive was the way Chatterjee laid out the context in detail (the lifestyles of the kumars of Bhawal, the sports they engaged in, the kind of province that Bhawal was and of course the socio-political context), and how he uses these details to make very astute observations about the case, the context and issues of identity. The 18th chapter in particular where he looks at identity in the ...more
In striving for lucidity above all, Chatterjee disowns his commitment to analyze, marshal and illumine the significance of any historical fact. I was disappointed by this bloated book which could have been riveting had he interrupted a long catalogue of facts that read like journalistic reportage of "one damn thing after another kind of history" with the finely calibrated theoretical rigor for which Subaltern Studies is known. Or he could have simply re-read Chandra's Death and tried harder to e ...more
Mar 15, 2012 Varsha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is a must read for every law student. principles of the law of evidence are so beautifully explained in this judgement by Justice Pannalal Basu, which Chatterjee has very skilfully laid out for even non lawyers to understand. his research on the manners of determining identity, the various schools of thought opining on the same, etc is very exhaustive and impressive.

commendable work and a racy, lovely, academically enriching (in my case) read!
Sharad Jain
Aug 31, 2011 Sharad Jain rated it liked it
Well... I had always been into fiction and this was my first real life story. Too much of similar stuff repeated across the chapters... becomes redundant at times. Though you have to give it to the author for being particular and not being judgmental from the onset, considering the plot of the story.
Well honestly speaking, I would personally not recommend this to my fiends.
Mar 10, 2012 Prakash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gripping...and indeed stranger than fiction!

A must read for anyone interested in crime thrillers, courtroom dramas, law and jurisprudence, psychology, philosophy, India's transition from colonialism, socio-political history of India, and of course, anything to do with Bengal.
Suhani Latif
Jan 06, 2015 Suhani Latif rated it it was amazing
Very interesting historical facts made the book more gripping towards the end . The prince of bhawal & his legendary tale is still out there ..... Well written book .
Ajitabh Pandey

A very detailed and informative account, a landmark in the history of judgement, a well known long legal battle fought over close to three decades.

Sep 10, 2008 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: college students
Recommended to Lindsay by: college professor
I read this book for school and loved it. It will keep you wondering even after you've finished the book if this "impostor" was really the Kumar of Bhawal.
Poonam Singh
Sep 24, 2012 Poonam Singh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
based on a true story its really addictive...
Aug 01, 2013 Anisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!
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Partha Chatterjee is a Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University; he also teaches and was a former director at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, founded the Subaltern Studies Collective, and is a poet and a playwright.
More about Partha Chatterjee...

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