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A Concise History of Modern India

(Cambridge Concise Histories)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  355 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In a second edition of their successful Concise History of Modern India, Barbara Metcalf and Thomas Metcalf explore India's modern history afresh and update the events of the last decade. These include the takeover of Congress from the seemingly entrenched Hindu nationalist party in 2004, India's huge advances in technology and the country's new role as a major player in w ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published October 9th 2006 by Cambridge University Press (first published October 1st 2001)
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Ameya Krishna B There are several misunderstandings, incomplete information and biases in the book. Absolutely disappointed!
Waste of time reading this one:)…more
There are several misunderstandings, incomplete information and biases in the book. Absolutely disappointed!
Waste of time reading this one:)(less)
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Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
A great resource for South Asian history, which is quite a feat! India has a very complex history and it was very hard for me to crack into it. However, the book provides a great reference point and overview to refer back to. The only setback of this book was the dry writing style.
Senthil Kumaran
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this book totally captivating. I have followed Indian history through books, and have been witnessed incidents taking shape, like Babri Masjid Demolition, Killing of Rajiv Gandhi, Curfew, Coalition Government, Gujarat Violence and burning of the train, the rise of Cyberabad, etc.

The details provided in this book still captured my attention. The authors do a wonderful job of providing a "concise history of modern India", and trying to present the facts as they are.

If we come across any re
Tarun Gupta
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ias
D. Metcalf has tried well to present the Indian history in a very small book. be concise and sense of completeness is very hard to accomplish. This book is base for awareness building about India.
আহ়মেদ আতিফ আবরার
I have read only thirty-plus pages (1940s), that is exiguous obviously to rate this three hundred-plus book. But I had to read it under a nonmajor course, and discovered Barbara Metcalf's one an easy-going prose. Keen to cover her less acclaimed books on South Asia. ...more
Bilal Shakir
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book fell short of its already low expectations. The Metcalf's don't even attempt to couch their pandering to Indian intelligentsia in their framing of historical issues and debates. Far from possessing even a semblance of what might be some version of a definitive history of modern India, the book is not much more than a "take-one" for the uninitiated during events or receptions hosted by the Dehli diaspora or at literature festivals hosted within India. Admittedly, this is precisely the f ...more
Joshua Maye
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this review, I must stress that I read this book while in attendance at my local university in Florida for a class on the international relations of Southeast Asia. I'm going to keep this very brief in that this book is brilliantly well-written, and very -- very, accessible in its approach that one would get the impression that it is creative non-fiction. It is that accessible, and well-written in telling a story about an intensely diverse people divided mostly by religion with their society, ...more
Ameya Krishna B
Jan 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Biased. Misleading.

I'm utterly surprised to realize how biased and incomplete the research of these "highly qualified" authors while writing this book has been. Several baseless assumptions have been made regarding the character and actions of Subhas Chandra Bose, and MK Gandhi and an unnecessary love towards "The Congress Party" can be clearly observed. Also, there are clear misunderstandings and incomplete definitions of Indian terms (mostly of Sanskrit), which can evidently be seen in the Glo
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book is easy to read and having enough information for a starter. Babur's, East India Company, Britain colonial policies, foundation of Pakistan, demolition of the Babri Masjid, Kashmir-Aksai Chin problem, Sikh People, Congress Party, Nehru family, RSS are some of the interesting points from the book.

Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative, but a lot of information for someone with almost zero prior knowledge about India. I suggest for those who want an introduction to India, to read something else first, perhaps even just a quick Wiki scan.
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, as promised, a concise history. It is a useful overview, either for those with a limited interest in the subject or in preparation for more detailed study. The authors' decision to start their text with the Mughals, moving them from "medieval" to "early modern," is useful. ...more
DrAneez Abdulsamad
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
A Must read book
Eric Dye
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great preparation for our upcoming trip to India!
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Insightful in a lot of places - spends a lot of time on the dilemmas of post-Independence India (and the other countries in the Indian subcontinent).
Andrew Clough
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Went a little far out of its way to be charitable to the Mughals but I was looking for a book to put 19th and 20th century India in context and it did a fine job at that.
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think it's an extremely hard task to write a book retelling history - you never know how close to reality or 'truth' what you are about to say is.

This little book traces Indian history from the start of the Mughal dynasty till present day 0 keeping an audience engaged through the tales of the times, and to know exactly what events to emphasise and which to eliminate is a difficult task. I found it really interesting because it covers all of the history that I studied in school and sort of refr
Scott Strand
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it
It's exactly as advertised: concise (very), historical (in the academic sense of the term), and focused on Modern India (with regrettably little exploration of the profound depths of political and religious history that led to modern events).

The Metcalfs deserve applause for condensing 450 years of history - in a region better classified as a continent than a country - into 362 pages. More than a year a page! Seriously, wow! They cover the highlights, the major figures (their sketch of Nehru's
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
India is a really fascinating country. Unfortunately, this is possibly too concise to really do it justice. There is little time to cover many things in great detail, which leads to it being rather difficult to get in to. Additionally, I wasn't too impressed by the quality of the prose. There are several sentences that are very heavy on subclauses, with some that could do with being left to the end of sentences or cut out entirely. Nevertheless, in a short page limit Metcalf seems to do a good j ...more
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
This is not a recommendation to pick this up unless you have an assigned interest in the subject, but for what it is, it's probably the best survey available. Indian history is very challenging and ridiculously diverse - probably the most difficult history I've ever tried to wrap my brain around. A good survey is useful to have on hand. ...more
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it on my trip to India, it's extremely well written and surprisingly engaging. The authors depict India's history from an academic perspective and put events in a global context, enabling the reader to understand the nation and its current sociopolitical environment. ...more
Shivani Parekh
This book was very difficult to read, it was similar to a textbook. However it was interesting and covered every detail of Indian history. It was organized in a way that you could skip directly to the part of history you want to learn about.
Xianglong Yu
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
From pre-colonial India, the East India Comapny Raj, to the Nehru's speech, this book presents the ups and downs of the modern India society, triumph and tradedy, shinning or others. That is a good story 'with clear and friendly eyes'. ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great--moves along at breakneck speed historically but manages to be detailed and general at the same time. Quite the feat.
Though this book was a bit much at times - there are LOTS of difficult names in Indian history - I felt like it was a well-written, *interesting* history book.
Nov 17, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I won't have even started this, I think, till after I return from Hyderabad. Ah well. A gift from Chris' parents, I'm sure it's a good primer on Indian history. ...more
Shaheera Pesnani
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Deatiled but Metcalf & Metcalf are quite sympathetic towards the British.
Feb 08, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction, own
This is informative, fairly short (i.e. fits my attention span), and interesting! I read it chapter by chapter for a class, but I'd like to think I would have read it on my own. ...more
Nora W
Read during Mrs.Foley's History of India class, Upper Spring. ...more
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Aug 29, 2017
Zhanwen "Phil"
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Feb 23, 2019
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Barbara Daly Metcalf is a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Davis. She is a specialist in the history of South Asia, especially the colonial period, and the history of the Muslim population of India and Pakistan. She previously served as the Dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of California, Davis, and as the Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of H ...more

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