Concerning spoilers: this is a history book. I DO talk about India's history. If you consider that a spoiler, read no more. For me, reading the facts...moreConcerning spoilers: this is a history book. I DO talk about India's history. If you consider that a spoiler, read no more. For me, reading the facts several times only helps to cement them into my head.
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 Nehru, Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, Louis(Dickie) and Edwina Mountbatten. The love affair between Edwina and Nehru and between Edwina and her husband Dickie are both amazing. Yes, both men truely loved her. She loved them both too! What the Mountbatten's pulled off is fascinating. You learn so much about Kashmir. Kashmir years before the partition is juxtaposed with the situation in Kashmir following partition, making the difference so alarmingly horrible. You learn a bit about the Indira Gandhi's corrupt and undemocratic leadership and the formation of Bangladesh in 1971. What is so wonderful is that although everything is very correct and factual with a million reference notes, the people come alive. It's the little tidbits that make the difference. And yes, you learn alot about the British royal family. Every page was interesting. Some bits were difficult for me simply b/c I had so much to learn. Don't shy away from the book if you know very little. You absorb what you can. The next book will teach you more, but this is a fabulous place for anybody to start. It is funny too. What some of the guys and gals do and say are priceless. Did you know that Mounbatten was killed by the IRA?! I didn't.
Through page 235: This remains totally fascinating! If you want to understand why Kashmir is the big mess it is today, read this book. It is really amazing what Mountbatten accomplished. Maybe if he had taken a little more time there would have been less turmoil? Who knows! The photos are really fun. The pictures of my Mom and Dad fit exactly into this time period. Same clothes, same hair styles, same hats!
Through page 100: I certainly did not know that Indira Gandhi was NOT the daughter of Mohandas Gandhi(more commonly called Mahatma Gandhi). She was in fact the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. Indira married Feroze Gandhy, who in the 30s changed the spelling of his last name from Gandhy to Gandhi. Here again the personal relationships are peculiar. Feroze originally was attracted to Indira's mother, but she died in 1936. Then it was her daughter that caught his eye! The name change turned out to be quite a boon to his wife's future career! The more you read history, the more you become aware that changing your name was the thing to do at the beginning of the 20th Century!
I also want to mention that the book provides helpful maps and facts are comprehensively noted with references to the sources.
Through page 93: Another two prime characters behind Indian independence and the formation of Pakistan and Bangladesh are both Winston Churchill and Ali Jinnah, who came to represent the Muslims in India. This man was the leading figure in the formation of Pakistan and became her first Governor-General in 1947. Churchill is only discussed in relation to his role in relation to India. He really hated the Indians and their religion and was vehmently against Indian self-rule. As a good excuse he stated that the opposing religious and caste group would tear each other apart if given self-rule. There is some truth to this if you obseve what later happened.... The funny thing is that Gandhi, in his demand for spotless moral perfection, was also in fact an obstacle to Indian self-rule. There IS comprehensive information about many aspects of Jinnah's life. The important Indian personalities were so often educated in Britain. Although Jinnah was in fact educated at a madrassa in Karachi, he too functioned within the British norms. British high society is so much a part of the scene in which they all moved, the standard against which people were judged. Personally, I find the rampant infidelity of all the men and women quite astounding. I do not like this posh British style of behavior. It drives me nuts...... but this is not a fairy tale, and this IS what happened. I find that so many of the characters are behaving so badly, it makes me disgusted.
Through page 57: This book provides in-depth but easily readable text concerning India's independence and the formation of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The focus is on the key players who made independence a reality - beginning with Mohandas Gandhi, then Jawaharlal Nehru, Louis Mountbatten and Prince Edward (David), Prince of Wales. The depiction of these characters, from their youth, is comprehensive. I particularly enjoyed learning more about Gandhi. You learn how his beliefs in passive resistance and non-violence developed. You learn how as a teenager he rebelled - smoking, stealing, eating meat. Then he marries and forms his own family. You lean how it was for his family to live with highly revered person. Life was not rosy for them! He was greatly influenced by his wife. He in fact attributes his belief in non-violence to her. And you learn of his strong support for the British.
All the characters mentioned above interact with each other. Their actions came to shape history. The discussion of the royal family had me a bit confused, but how Mountbatten came to be involved with David is interesting. Mountbatten was the great grandchild of Queen Victoria. Tsar Nicholas II, soon to abdicate, was his brother-in-law. All the family connections form an amazing knot of threads. Honestly, I am a little worried I will not be able to keep everything straight...... It is complicated. Nehru's youth is also comprehensively covered. Of course, he will become the first prime Minister of India and have an affair with Mountbatten's wife Edwina, but I haven't come that far. We are still in the formative years. To understand how India's independence was achieved, to understand how Pakistan and Bangladesh came into being, you have to understand the lives of the people who brought it about.(less)
I had pretty much the same opinion as John Speer's. When I read his review, that is when I remembered I had read this book about 10 years ago! I kept...moreI had pretty much the same opinion as John Speer's. When I read his review, that is when I remembered I had read this book about 10 years ago! I kept thinking - yes, exactly! So read his review.(less)
Rather than depicting the events of Bangladesh independence, i.e. the split between East and West Pakistan in 1971, the central theme is a mother’s ef...moreRather than depicting the events of Bangladesh independence, i.e. the split between East and West Pakistan in 1971, the central theme is a mother’s efforts to save her children. There is too little history. On the other hand, I just finished another book concerning how war wreaks havoc in people’s lives, Scribbling The Cat, and that I loved. That didn’t have a lot about the exact historical events of the Rhodesian War, but I still loved it, so something else must be wrong. The central theme here, in the book about Bangladesh, is that all can be sacrificed except her children. The mother will do almost anything for her children. I think I couldn’t relate to that. In Fuller’s book I felt that the author was revealing her own search for coping with war experiences, not only K’s. I think I was touched by her honesty and willingness to reveal herself. In A Golden Age, by Tahmima Anam, the mother reveals herself honestly; it is clear that she has made questionable choices, done things she shouldn’t have done, but she remained only a fictional character for me.
Fuller’s book has humor that balances the terrible events. There is little humor in Anam’s book. I could place myself in Fuller’s book, and I could not do that in Anam’s book. Both books have sentences that are not translated into English. Fuller’s book has a section at the back that translates these expressions. Anam’s book didn’t. I did not have access to the translations because they are not included in the audiobook version. In both books you do understand what is going on, even without the translations. (less)