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A History of India, Vol. 1: From Origins to 1300

(A History of India #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,615 ratings  ·  126 reviews
A full account of Indian history from the establishment of Aryan culture to the coming of the Mughals in 1526 A.D. This work brings to life thousands of years of history, tracing India's evolution before contact with modern Europe was established: its prehistoric beginnings; the great cities of the Indus civilization; the emergence of mighty dynasties such as the Mauryas, ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 1990 by Penguin (first published 1966)
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Start your review of A History of India, Vol. 1: From Origins to 1300 (A History of India #1)
Alok Mishra
Oct 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Romila Thapar is a historian within her own rights. For her, the early texts are myths generated by 'certain people' without any base. She contradicts her own thesis many times in the course of the narrative of this completely distorted history book. Many reviewers have already pointed out her shortcomings as a historian.

"A historical study is not a juxtaposition of islands or fragments of historical facets which are lined up: political, environmental, technological, economic, social, religious
Saket Niranjan
Dec 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Very unprofessional book of history, I must say. This does not tell what is the truth but tells what is truth according to a person's beliefs. The author forgets that this is a book of history and not of philosophy where she can act upon her whims and inclinations.
S Sharma
Dec 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Invalid history of India this is... the author has not given 'proofs' or her 'assumptions' and had challenged the facts that were established.
Chitranjan Kumar
Feb 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
An overrated book that was academically imposed upon the readers of young age for so long.
Vikas Lather
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
To describe Romila Thapar, I would like to employ (with slight variation) an unknown quote by a famous journalist for Indira Gandhi, "She is the only MAN among the Indian intellectuals"

Early India is one of the best books I have read this year. Romila Thapar is among handful of Indian intellectuals who have the courage to stand up against the cultural distortion of our history. She is not famous among Hindutava circle because her work stands between their ambition to distort the past and depres
Jun 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disappointment
I enjoy reading history, and am just becoming interested in the history of India and central Asia. I figured a Penguin book on the topic would be just what I needed. That was not the case. I was looking for a book which told me stories about Indian history, instead I got a soulless Marxist manifesto.

This year I've read two great history books - "The Fall of the Roman Empire" by Peter Heather, and "Consuming Passions" by Judith Flanders. Both were great books which entertained me and left me wit
Apr 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
I am very happy that I did not have to go through this poorly written history book during my childhood. Horrific narration of Indian history.
Nilesh Ranjan
Mar 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
Instead of full account, this book is rather a 'failed account' of Indian history which betrays the basic tenets of historical writing. Romila Thapar has misled her readers.
Shivani Singh
Jul 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: propaganda
I cannot think of a better genre than propaganda for this book of 'history' which morphs, falsifies and distorts the history that was to make it history as it had to be for her... author's deceptions have been caught and challenged on many occasions but she does not bother.
Harsh Tiwari
Mar 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
I don't call this forgery of facts a book of history. It has been written with a certain purpose to ride one's own path in spite of the available resources that do not corroborate with her conclusions. I don't recommend this book at all.
Avdhesh Anand
Jul 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: avoid
I would suggest avoiding this book as I have studied it ins and outs. During my graduation, I had to study this book to compensate my history syllabus and I found it to be highly confusing, agenda-driven and too biased a narrative to be passed off as history.
Rupesh Kashyap
Jul 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is not a recommended book if you want to understand and learn history.
Himanshu Bhatnagar
Aug 11, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Penguin claims this book "brings Indian History to life". I would posit that this book and its author kill Indian history, dismember the corpse, burn the remains and plod mechanically through the ashes.
Now that I've vent my spleen, so to speak, let's vent a little more. :)
This isn't a book meant for the lay reader or the history buff. If anyone, it is suited for First Year students of BA (History). You lucky guys can just copy-paste paragraphs from the book right into your answer sheets. :D
To ca
Radhika Sharma
Mar 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
While I was a student at a reputed University, I read her books as primary sources. I was highly disappointed and I won't suggest anyone reading her books. Her history is 'ill-conceived' fancy of her mind and what her heart actually wills. Avoidable.
Gudiya Rani
Feb 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
This version of history is articulated from a point of view that is not of a historian but rather of a distorian who thinks that what she thinks is right and what others think is wrong, always. There are many contradictions in the book because the author has sometimes been a theorists of literary theories and at times, when she wants, a historian within her own rights to judge historical events from her narrow and mice-eyed point of views.
Riya Gupta
Feb 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
I have never such big hypocrisy in my life than this. An author who does not believe in the existence of India and thinks when Mughals came Indian becomes a world leader. And she is telling me about Indian from origins. These left-liberals historians have done enough to defame India on world platform but the reality is coming now.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
I really can't imagine whether I am reading a book of history or a book of lies and propaganda.
Rajveer Singh
Apr 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book doesn't stand as a history book. It rather tends to be a book which is bent by the author to claim that her propositions and notions are right and others' are wrong. Waste of my time.
Apr 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
A wonderful fiction book. I will not say anything more than this.
Feb 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
If you ask me to give my honest opinion about who is the best fiction writer in India, then my reply would be Romila Thapar. I have never seen any historian writing such a baseless book. She has nothing do with history. She has a single work to do eat, praise Mughals and sleep and repeat.
Lalan Jha
Mar 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
This history needs to be corrected by a copyeditor and an abstract editor who can teach this historian that history writing is not like writing a piece of fiction.
Apr 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is a book of false propaganda rather than a history book.
Ravi Gupta
Jul 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-worth
I wasted my time reading this book for nothing! The book is based upon imagination more than it is written as history.
Rahul Sharma
Feb 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Does the title say history? It should say opinions! Romila Thapar is an arrogant intellectual who is not even ready to accept her mistakes even after they have been busted many a time. She has written history as if she is writing opinions on some literature. Strange!
May 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would never recommend this book or any book written by Romila Thapar to any one (except you are preparing for UPSC exams).
Utterly disgusted by this leftist history telling, felt as if Indian history narrated by some India hater. Be it Ram Guha or Romila Thapar they mastered the art of demeaning India's past, fabricating theories and applying western sense of righteousness in their history telling.
For a 555 page History book, evidences/facts are seldom referred, on the contrary the entire boo
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-asia, india
This one took me much longer than I expected, but there is a lot of dense information packed into this small volume. I won't pretend I memorized everything in the book, since it packs a period of over 2000 years into less than 400 pages. That said, it entertained me for the most part, and informed me a great deal about Indian societies of the past. My one minor beef is Ms. Thapar's claim that Sufism came from Shi'i Islam against Sunni orthodoxy. Say what? Unlike her detractors, however, I can fo ...more
Vivek Singh
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No other work comes close to it in subject matter. Sanghi retards who most probably haven't even read this book are giving it one star like butt hurt idiots they are.
Bryan--Treasurer, Middlemarch Appreciation Society
This book may have all the information one might require for a general survey of India before the coming of the Mughals and the Portuguese, but the style is listless and documentary. Better, I suppose, than sensationalistic, but it was still difficult for me to shoulder on through it.

Part of the problem I admit was my own lack of knowledge about Indian geography and political divisions. The author frequently referred to geographic areas of India which I couldn't place in my head (the maps were
The first half of the book is quite interesting where Thapar talks about historiography and how biases and agendas of diverse groups affect their periodization and narrative of history, and the book begins quite promisingly with a the description of the social milieu. However, in the later chapters, especially after the Gupta empire or so the book becomes too unfocussed and difficult to follow when it ends up as a listing of too many facts without any sort of clear thread of events. Sure, histor ...more
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to flesh out my understanding of early Indian history, especially in the realms of politics, economics, art, and regional differences. I also wanted an accessible "master narrative" from a premier social historian. The narrative is there from time to time, but this book is mostly details. On the plus side, names and dates of dynasties and wars, descriptions of terms of art found in each period's texts, and a brief fleshing out of technological and religious advances. On the minus, somet ...more
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Romila Thapar is an Indian historian and Professor Emeritus at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

A graduate from Panjab University, Dr. Thapar completed her PhD in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Her historical work portrays the origins of Hinduism as an evolving interplay between social forces. Her recent work on Somnath examines the evolution of t

Other books in the series

A History of India (2 books)
  • A History of India, vol. 2: From the 16th Century to the 20th Century

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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
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“The fundamental sanity of Indian civilization has been due to an absence of Satan.” 5 likes
“Some have argued that as language is the medium of knowledge, that which comes in the form of language constitutes a text; since language is interpreted by the individual, the reading by the individual gives meaning to the text; therefore each time a text is read by a different individual it acquires a fresh meaning. Taken to its logical conclusion, this denies any generally accepted meaning of a text and is implicitly a denial of attempts at historical representation or claims to relative objectivity, since the meaning would change with each reading. However, the prevalent views are more subtle.” 2 likes
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