Cynthia's Reviews > Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire

Indian Summer by Alex von Tunzelmann
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Feb 12, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: couldn-t-finish
Read in February, 2008

this book starts off great but quickly degenerates into "Why I hate Dickie Mountbatten" — altho, in fact, the author never explained (i made it halfway) why she DOES hate him. The author (a recent oxford grad, and with her blond hair apparently not an Indian or Pakistani) never comes right out and says "I blame Dickie for the all the things that are wrong with India; and when you think about it, India isn't doing so badly compared to many other nations. The book begins with good history and wonderful portraits of figures such as Gandhi and Nehru; I definitely learned a lot from her descriptions and facts. But after a while she is so vicious and catty about Mountbatten (and I have no feelings about him one way or the other; but her constant putdowns even seem to contradict her own descrips of his strengths, the people who respected him and his accomplishments) that it distracts you from the Indian history, and trivializes the struggle of this incredible country. The only explanations I can think of for her Mountbatten obsession: she is so gushy in her praise of Mountbatten's wife that she seems to have a huge schoolgirl crush on her; or, with her germanic last name, perhaps she was offended by the English royalties' efforts to distance themselves from their German roots during the World Wars.
I hope that when the author matures she will turn her obviously substantial skills toward writing a more balanced book about ... something. She has a lot of talent, she just needs to be less personally involved... or to explain right up front what her issues are.
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Susan Forrest Rather harsh and superficial analysis....


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