Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire
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Tunzelmann has concocted a very readable and balanced history of the last days of Empire. Tunzelmann avoids demonizing any sect, individual or nation and shows the circuitous routes through which every decision was squeezed out, many tragedies averted and many more inadvertently precipitated.
He shows the human frailties and noble aspirations of all of the major participants and does not shirk away from exploring the controversial bullheadedness of Gandhi or from going into great detail about th ...more
I loved this book from beginning to end. If you want a fiction that is light, do not read it. If you want to really understand the people that pulled off India's independence, then I highly recommend it. It is non-fiction, but of the best kind! You learn about the private and public lives of Nehr ...more
This was a disappointing book, though maybe my expectations were too high. Instead of a relatively straight-forward exposition of the happenings in India and England during the times of the Raj and after Independence, the author, in focusing on many of the key players in the events of the times, chooses, instead, to focus on their sex lives and the clothes in their closets. Lord Montbatten was once told th ...more
The Indian S ...more
What particularly pleased me about this book was its value use as an 'addendum' to Freedom at Midnight. "Freedom" follows Mohandas Gandhi and Louis Mountbatten through 1947-48; Tunzelmann focuses instead on Nehru, Edwina Mountbatten, and (to a far lesser degree) Jinnah. Taken ...more
"Poor, accident-prone Dickie [Mountbatten], long known in the Admiralty as the ‘Master of Disaster,’ had been given more power over 400 million subjects of the British king-emperor than any preceding viceroy. The task of reconciling the Indian politicians, reestablishing public order, and finding a formula for an independent India was awesome, and quite beyond Mountbatten’s experience. India would have been within its rights to panic, but from the British government’s point of vie
Certain emotional moments and images-- while not at all stooping to 're-creation' tactics-- remain stubbornly, hauntingly, with the reader, long after the book has been shelved.
It seems as if the material for the book was mainly derived from the tons of letter written by Lord and Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru. As such, it has a typical British empire view on the subcontinent. This is not bad because it exposes all the leaders to their human flaws.
It goes in length on the love affair of Edwina with Nehru, the hobbies of Di ...more
The book focuses on the people who brought forth the new India, and helps you to know who they were and to care about them. For instance, the last Viceroy could have been described through a recitation of his long and prestigious lineag ...more
A very readable account of the British withdrawal from India, largely from the point of view of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten, whose papers are used extensively, though with some effort also made to include the roles of the other key political players. On Lord Mountbatten's responsibility for the horrors of partition, I found it was a useful alternative viewpoint to the hatchet-job by Andrew Roberts which I read several years ago. While I think that von ...more
She seems to be clearly fascinated by Nehru and the Mountbatten's. On the other side, she does not seem to be an admirer of Jinnah or Gandhi. This shows. What is missing from the book, is the analysis of how Jinnah went from ...more
The first phase covers the birth and upbringing of all the central characters. This part of the book is good on breadth - touching upon key events in personal lives of the main characters. The content is not biographical, but rather anecdotal. To that extent, the relative importance accorded to ...more
My only complaint is my normal complaint about history...I want to delve in deeper...I want the innermost thoughts, the secret conversations, the gritty little details that never make it into the books.
This is an excellent history book, an excellent story, but for me it merely skims over the top of events without really hooking in to the visceral appellates.
Thus begins Alex Von Tunzelmann’s amusing work Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire , chronic ...more
I have to admit I had sinking feelings when I started reading this book. First seeing Jeremy Paxman namechecked in the acknowledgments, then reading the opening chapter's whistlestop tour of the state of India (rich and happy) and Britain (poor and ...more
This book is "Vogue" magazine of this period of time. Rife with gossip of affair between the Prime Minister and one of the worlds m ...more
Alex begins the story of British Raj with, "In the beginning, there were two nations. One was a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive sathe of the earth. The other was an underdeveloped, semi-fedual realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased ...more