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A History of the Sikhs: Volume 1: 1469-1839

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  497 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
First published in 1963, this remains the most comprehensive and authoritative book on the Sikhs. The new edition updated to the present recounts the return of the community to the mainstream of national life. Written in Khushwant Singh's trademark style to be accessible to a general, non-scholarly audience, the book is based on scholarly archival research.
Paperback, Second Edition, 407 pages
Published January 27th 2005 by Oxford University Press (first published December 1st 1984)
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Simran Buttar
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Inimitable Khushwant Singh style and simplicity. Khushwant Singh has provided an informative account of Sikh history, starting with the background on how Sikh religion came to existence and how it propagated in northern India and then culminating (the book) with the end of Sikh empire.
Unlike some other authors Khushwant Singh does not seem to suffer with pre conceived opinions of historic events where the author has its own agenda to press. He has stated events clearly and provided detailed refe
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
For me this book was a plethora of information. Told in true text book style, the book chronicles all the important events that took place in the said period.
When I first started reading it, i noticed the number of footnotes it had - almost every other page. But dont skip them - they give very good background and supporting information which would otherwise digress from the main narrative.
An apt book for anyone who is looking to gain information on the history of the Sikhs as a people.

I still h
Bhupinder Saini
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learn
So you know how in many books and movies, a character let's their enemy go free for no discernible reason at all? Well, it always annoyed me. Turns out, that used to happen in history all the freaking time.
(I still don't understand the reason however, and am still annoyed by it)

This is one of the most painstakingly researched books I've ever read. Almost half of the book is footnotes and references, which is a good thing because I enjoyed reading them almost as much as the excellently written ac
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
After reading this book I can say that its praise is not exaggerated and Khushwant has written a book based on solid and extensive research and at the same time kept it very lucid and a medium length book. It is highly admirable. It seems khushwant’s non-fiction work is of the highest caliber. Fiction is probably a mixed bag.

In the ‘Sikh History’ book it starts with year 1469 (birth of Nanak). Initially it gives background of Sikh home country (which is essentially undivided Punjab). Then it gi
Ayon Bit
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The author of Minimalist, Masdul Hasan, who refers a list of books in his thriller novel. It was a thriller,certainly the book creates an thirstiness about Shikism.Thanks to him.

For me this book was a plethora of information. The History of the Sikhs", is about the history of Sikhs. I read this book because I am not from this religion and want to know not only about mine but also other religious faiths.

In the ‘Sikh History’ book it starts with the year 1469 (birth of Nanak). Initially it gives t
Julie Bozza
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I understand that this is considered a definitive history of the Sikh people, and it's certainly well-written and thorough, and accessible even for a relative newbie like me. I really loved the early parts of it, which described the Punjab itself, a land of extreme seasons, and the advent of the first Gurus. Among other things, Sikhism was an attempt to enable different peoples - Hindus and Muslims - to live together without distinctions of caste, and the first hundred years under the first five ...more
Angad Bajwa
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Plethora of facts and knowledge are presented in this book about the Punjabi Nationalism Corresponding with Sikh history and the Sikh Empire. Shone light over many historical events of utmost importance in the region which is called cradle of civilization, “Punjab”.

Excited to read Volume 2.
Amandeep Singh
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Detailed account of history of sentiments before sikhism in India and specifically region around the five+ rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Rabi, Sutlej, and Dry Ghaggar). How muslim religion gained significance in southern india among the people not happy with hinduism later confusions due to mass bloodshed by Muslim invaders from North India. The rise of Bhakta and Sufi way of worship which was adopted by Sikh Gurus, This book presents a dispassionate account of eventful rich history of people a ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
The best history of Sikhism ever written. Khushwant is not only a talented story-teller, but is a great historian who is able to give a relatively unbiased account of Sikh history.
Vikash Tiwary
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have had tried several books on history of Sikhism but almost each author i found were highly driven by devotional opium or ideologically influenced, which take entire account far from rationality.

Being a Brahmin, I found myself in discomfort with most of contemporary work which are highly Brahmin bashing specially when subject is related to "Bhakti movement". This is surely an unbiased work, would give you totally rational answers to each of your question about Sikhism. Khushwant singh's simp
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
The first third of the book was the most interesting. There the history of the religion and its roots to Islam and Hinduism where explained and its evolution from pacifism to armed defense/territorial aggression are related in great detail. The remainder of the book necessarily gets burdened with chronicling the expansion of the Punjab and conflicts with various regional powers; including thwarting the machinations of British imperialism. Overall a thorough and scholarly history of the Sikh, but ...more
Harsimran Khural
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book covers the first 370 years of Sikh history in extensive detail. Many incidents are presented from multiple viewpoints, with copious footnotes to support. The book offers insights into the history of Punjab. It helps understand how Punjab's fortunes were shaped by its frontier location. However, the antics of warring factions are given much more coverage than they warrant. Parts of the book read like a textbook, with dates being awarded prominence over phenomena. Nevertheless, it is an i ...more
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
For someone unfamiliar with Sikh history, this was a very informative book. It doesn't seem biased at all, and honestly discusses what is admirable and what is not about the history of the Sikhs. The story of how a bunch of peaceful mystics rose to become one of the most powerful empires is far more interesting than I had anticipated. The bonus is how thoroughly the book dismisses the Sikh vs Muslim narrative that some people buy into. Must-read if one is genuinely interested in India's history.
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
" The History of the Sikhs", is about the history of Sikhs. I read this book because I am form this religion. Reading this book helped me understand how my religion started and what between now and then. This book informs me about all the things I wanted to know. This book is for people who want to know about different cultures and religions. I hope you enjoy!!!!!!!!
Sonia Dhami
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very informativ and impartial view.A wonderful book to know about the sikh religion. Every library must preserve this book to educate the students about sikh religion. A life time work of the great khuswant Singh
Anup Rai
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very Informative book a good description of history of northern India in modern history.
Mayank Pandya
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
As I am a history buff, this book was a delight for me. The book is so well written that it turns History into an interesting read. The Vol 1 takes us through years 1469 to 1839 covering the advent of the religion from guru Nanak Dev Ji to the end of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Lahore, Punjab. Covers the lives of people like Banda Bahadur who shook the Mughal Empire in such a way that the the empire could not stamp it's authority again in India. The book touches upon the lives of Sikh Gurus and fo ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing account on how Sikhs came into existence and in a period of 400 years rose to almost ruling over India north to Indus river.

It starts with how Sikhs came into picture by originating from Hindus and Muslims and became a separate entity than Hindus and Muslims.

This book gives a pretty decent description of life of all ten gurus of Sikhs who were the backbone of Sikhism. How fabric of Sikhism changed from Pacifism under first five gurus to Militant Khalsa nature under the later
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Khushwant Singh in his usual inimitable style chronicles the evolution of Sikh religion, complete with the sociopolitical implications and the detailing of important events. To me, the book holds two distinct advantages. One, it contains a lot of necessary background information, in the form of footnotes and explanations, which will be helpful to non-Sikhs like me with little prior knowledge of the Sikh faith. Secondly, Singh refuses to comply with the widely circulated misnomers and misconcepti ...more
Evan Pritchard
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
The book focuses on how the Sikhs gained contol of the Punjab region and on the endless political and military manoevering (lots and lots of bloody battles) it took to get there. The majority of the book is spent on the reign of Maharajah Ranjit Singh. When I found this at Half-priced Books, I was really hoping for something more about the Sikh religion. I knew close to nothing about the history of the Sikhs or of India, for that matter. Even though I was initially disappointed that the book was ...more
Prabhdeep Singh
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Well researched, thorough and completely unbiased version.

Khushwant Singh avoids the preachy road that some scholars tend to venture upon when discussing the lives of Sikh Gurus and their followers; And relies heavily upon the scriptures and documents from that age to provide a holistic and fair viewpoint.

Later chapters cover the history of the Afghan invasion and the rise of the first sovereign state of Punjab under the rule of Ranjeet Singh.

A must read for a brush up with history again.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Volume I is a well researched, comprehensive, attentive history of the Sikhs from their inception through 1839. It is very dryly written, which constitutes my only real complaint. I suspect I may feel differently about Volume II, but I think I need to let some time pass before tackling that one. I highly recommend this book. 9/10.
Anup Rai
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eye opener in every account. It gives true account why minority community still feels alienated in India. The information of operation Blue Star, and the riots after Mrs Gandhi assassination is very through.

On whole both books really depicts the story of some of the Bravest People who walk on this earth.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very good book, the author has established himself as serious historian. The matter is well researched and lucidly presented. There is plethora of details satisfying any inquisitive reader who wants to learn about Sikh heritage.
Dishant Boora
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It gives the feeling of reading a story book rather than a History book... Language is realy appealing. Khushwant Singh's best book. It shows his all hard work. A beautiful book depicting story of sikhs beautifully.

I love it
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have always been keen to know How Sikhs evolved over the time. Per se politically, geographically, economically this book gives you insights of a vast history in an effective manner. I liked it. Also the second volume.
Divy Raghuvanshi
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian-history
a very well documented book .in fact books regarding these areas need to be documented and khuswant singh has done a superb job in doing so.very well balanced.this books will always be used for reference to future generations.
Viney Mittal
Feb 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Very informative and authentic about History of Sikhs.
Pratikhya Das
Nov 11, 2015 rated it liked it
First chapter was very gripping, wished the entire book would have been that way.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for all the History Lovers. Best work of Khushwant Singh
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Khushwant Singh, (Punjabi: ਖੁਸਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ, Hindi: खुशवंत सिंह) born on 2 February 1915 in Hadali, British India, now a part of Punjab, Pakistan, was a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, was among the most widely-read columns in the country.

An important post-colonial novelist writing in English, Sing
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“A Sikh woman takes the surname Kaur on baptism. Kaur was also a common surname for Rajput women and means both a princess and lioness.” 1 likes
“four rules of conduct (rahat): not to cut any hair on any part of their body (this was a repetition of the oath regarding the kes) ; not to smoke, chew tobacco, or consume alcoholic drinks; not to eat an animal which had been slaughtered by being bled to death, as was customary with the Muslims, but only jhatkd meat, where the animal had been despatched with one blow; and not to molest the person of Muslim women.” 0 likes
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