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India's War: World War II and the Making of Modern South Asia

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Between 1939 and 1945 India underwent extraordinary and irreversible change. Hundreds of thousands of Indians suddenly found themselves in uniform, fighting in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Europe and-something simply never imagined-against a Japanese army poised to invade eastern India. With the threat of the Axis powers looming, the entire country was pulled in ...more
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Basic Books (first published March 31st 2016)
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3.99  · 
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 ·  154 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction, wwii, war
I find it amazing that researchers can still produce original and interesting books from a topic as well-shod as WWII, where some unjustly ignored campaign or person gets the limelight, or a previous topic has a new light of interpretation shone upon it. Raghavan presents here a comprehensive single-volume history of the Indian subcontinent from 1939 to 1945 where the inhabitants of the British Raj (as it was then called) played a substantive role in that military conflict, and a role in its pos ...more
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dr. Raghavan has produced a well written, well researched and even handed look at India’s contributions to the Allied victory in the Second World War. While telling the story, the author just doesn’t relate the combat contributions of the Indian Army, but also tells what is going on at home - the internal politics of both the independence movement of Gandhi and Nehru, the social change the expansion of the military brought to the Indian society and the effect the war had on the Indian economy.

Tariq Mahmood
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india
WW2 and India's participation completely altered the course of the Indian subcontinent. The political fallout of Britains involvement and reliance on Indian soldiery was the creation of several new states. Unfortunately, the full involvement of Indian soldiers in WW2 have never been highlighted, because the new nation states are busy creating their separate legacy, a policy which unfortunately is stifling progress in the region.

If India is to revert to its older role as the ‘pivot’ of Asian sec
India's War is, above all else, a very important book. The "jewel in the crown" was called so for a reason, as India's financial and military aid to the Crown was massive in the war years, with the largest volunteer force ever assembled fighting everywhere from Libya to Indonesia, even as a famine struck India was drained ever further. But this largely tone neutral book doesn't concern itself with the ethical questions of British rule so much as it seeks to document the war itself, and politial ...more

With “India’ War”, Srinath Raghavan has probably put to rest the old lament about India’s role in the Second World War being unrecognized by scholars and historians. Coming closely on the heels of two other books dealing with this subject – Raghu Karnad’s “The Farthest Road” and Yasmin Khan’s “A people’s history of the War”, Raghavan has managed to bring in multiple new perspectives in this thoroughly researched book. Though certain sections such as India’s economy during the war, the rations a
Sidin Vadukut
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really quite excellent book that deserves to be read very widely.
Mike Kershaw
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
On a trip to visit Monte Cassino while stationed in Italy, I happened upon the Commonwealth Cemetery. I had already visited the Polish Cemetery (near the Monastery) and the German Cemetery (tucked in behind some hills, off the beaten path); the closest American Cemetery being near Anzio-Nettuno. What seemed remarkable about this seemingly "British" Cemetery was its location; outside the town that was reduced to rubble during the war (as was the Monastery), overlooked by commanding heights and th ...more
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, soft-copy, india
It seems to be the case that I come into Srinath Raghavan books with misleading expectations. And this was no different. I presumed this was going to be a social and political history of 'India's (World) War (II)' but with a more top down focus as is Yasmin Khan's The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War. Instead, as seems to be the case with the author, in a happy accident (for me) or perhaps to Mr. Raghavan's credit I was positively surprised and came out of the book much ...more
David Bales
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Upon entering the Indian Army, the author was surprised to see that among the great regimental military actions were included battles like El Alamein, Mandalay and Monte Casino, which gave him pause. The Indians contributed 2.5 million troops to Britain's war effort from 1939-1945, and Indian troops fault bravely in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Iraq, Iran, and many other places. Indian troops were in France in 1940 and Singapore and Hong Kong a year later. This was set against the backdrop o ...more
A.K. Kulshreshth
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
India’s war is a great work that took too long to come out – an account of the Indian army’s effort during World War II, from North Africa to Myanmar, written by a former officer of the Indian Army. This is a work that mostly does justice to the very impressive blurbs from Ramchandra Guha, John Keay and Sunil Khilnani.

Its span, depth and detail make this an outstanding book. Raghavan goes into the strategy, economics and politics of the context, before describing the military aspects in some
Peter Goodman
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing

“India’s War: World War II and the making of modern South Asia,” by Srinath Raghavan (Basic Books, 2016). A companion, of sorts, to “Farthest Field: an Indian story of the Second World War,” by Raghu Karnad (Norton, 2015), which tried to describe India’s role in the war through the stories of three of Karnad’s distant relatives---none of whom he actually knew. Raghavan paints the same picture on a much larger canvas. He too speaks of how Indians and Pakistanis pay virtually no attention to what
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, wwii
This is an excellent history of the cultural, economic, political and military realities of India through the inter-war years through World War II to the post war period of partition.
India was in a way the lynch pin of the British Empire, a vast country whose British controlled military through the Raj was used primarily to keep order within the country and to be used by the British as an Army who conquered territories and claimed the for England and occupied them to enforce colonial rule.
I had
World War II has had many chapters. While Europe was the main stage, the effects of the War were felt across the globe with no corner left untouched. No single book can cover it in its entirety. For those who love to read up on history, and who have an inclination to learn more on World War II, then Srinath Raghavan's book India's War covers in great detail another chapter from the War which would appear as a footnote in most of the other books that delve into this bloody phase of human history. ...more
Manish Jaitly
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How did Indians perform in the second WW? That question is answered in this book. Loved the lucid description which was story like. It became un-putdownable at times. Must read for all Indians.
Vikas Datta
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Quite a detailed and reasoned exposition..
Aditya Kulkarni
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-history
In the prologue of the book, the author Srinath Raghavan, former infantry officer in the Indian Army who is now a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi states as follows.

Indian soldiers had fought in a stunning range of places: Hong Kong and Singapore; Malaya and Burma; Iraq, Iran and Syria; North and East Africa; Sicily and mainland Italy. The Indian army had raised, trained and deployed some 2.5 million men. Even at the time, this was recognized as the largest volunteer ar
Randall Harrison
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: india, ww-ii
Not as much a military history as expected, more a social history of India before, during and after the war. The book focuses more on the political, social and economic aspects of India's participation in WW II. This isn't a criticism, just a heads up for somebody seeking a deeper dive into the military details of India's participation. It was still an enjoyable and informative read.

The parts I found most interesting were those that detailed the changes to the economic infrastructure, industria
Steven Voorhees
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a very interesting and probably definitive history of India in World War II. In the general historical imagination, India at this time may be considered just a huge land on the cusp of freedom from Britain (thanks to Gandhi's nonviolent yet fiery perseverance). But Raghavan exhaustively shows that India was pivotal in the war's Pacific Theater. The subcontinent was indeed a bulwark between the West and Japan and Southeast Asia. The British Empire depended on India like never before in it ...more
Roger B
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Well written account of India's contributions to WWII. the British (Churchill, Wavell, Linlithgow in particular) do not come out of this looking good. Particularly interesting is the effect of the war on the railroads system, ports and industry all of which chiefly benefited from America's interest (and sustained pressure on British pols) in supplying China (via the Burma Road). Some insights into wartime economy, finance, politics (including the peculiar history of the INA) and also military re ...more
May 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This book is a mixed bag. I thought I was going to get something like Rick Atkinson's "Liberation Trilogy" but applied to the Indian Army. But that is not what this book is. It covers, in one large volume, India during the second world war. Many topics are covered, some interesting, some not

* The politics of pre-war India and the machinations as to which parties were willing to support the Raj and which were not. These chapters were confusing to a non-specialist or non-Indian as the cast of char
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have had the pleasure of sitting along with the author in a class during one of a policy workshops. Plus Srinath Sir is my super senior from OTA (Officers training academy). Post completion of short service he took an interesting pivot in his career. He studies & taught in Kings college in London. So without wasting much time let me do the honors

The book is about India, WW II & its impact on us, both during and long after the war. It is a work which is based on the following pillars

Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I've read several books on this topic, but this is the first I've read by an Indian, and that is an awesome "new" perspective to add to the voices of World War II. Raghavan, as a soldier-scholar is perfectly placed to evaluate the war and India's HUGE contribution/significance to it . It is really the war that made Modern India, and India modern.

It's really a total, free-wheeling account of WWII. At the beginning, the British Raj Viceroy took India into the war without
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent, fitfully comprehensive history that's more or less what it says on the tin. Raghavan aims at providing a full account of the Second World War's effect on South Asia, especially how it established some of the foundational structures and conflicts of its post-colonial history, and largely succeeds, though I'd have liked to seen more information on certain areas. Following in the footsteps of authors such as Bayly and Harper (Forgotten Armies), Raghavan places native Indians front-and-ce ...more
Bob Mobley
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a fine look at the impact of World War II on the development of India. Read in conjunction with Yasmin Khan's fine India At War, you gain a deep and insightful look inside the dynamic forces that World war II brought to India and the development of the Nation's Culture as a "Modern State" emerging out of the war. The author traces the impacts brought about through rapidly expanding economic growth, indeed many of India's most successful big companies trace their beginnings back to supply ...more
Ankit Hawk
Short Review

The “India’s War” by Srinath Raghavan can be divided in to two sections. One section covers Politics from 1939 till independence and other covers stories of Indian Military or Indian soldiers in action during world War II. And after finishing the book I could quite easily pin point which section was more compelling than other.

Indian Politics for its never ending drama and surprises always has a aura to keep you interested. With that in mind, the book includes insights on politics as
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book in very informative and takes a not commonly explored route of telling the history of World War 2. It was a very good book with interesting photo's however the end was a bit to short for my liking. It covered the economic and political situation along with the military view and is well written. Overall it is a very good book and I recommend it.
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
God og grundig gjennomgang av den indiske innsatsen under 2. verdenskrig.
Adam Marshall
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Srinath Raghavan is a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research. He is also a senior research fellow at the India Institute at King’s College London. Srinath works on contemporary and historical aspects of India’s foreign and security policies.