This book, edited by the well-known historian A. L. Basham, presents a comprehensive survey of Indian culture, covering such aspects as religion, philosophy, social organization, literature, art. architecture, music and science. It includes a special section dealing with the influence of Indian civilization on the rest of the world, as well as details of the political history of the region to provide a chronological framework for the non-specialist. Contributors include such eminent scholars as Radhakrishnan, Burrow, Das, and Spear.
Professor Arthur Llewellyn Basham (24 May 1914 – 27 January 1986) was a noted historian and indologist and author of a number of books.Possibly his most popular book is The Wonder That was India (Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1954) - published seven years after the 1947 Independence of India. Revised editions of the book were released in 1963 and then 1967. Rupa & Co, New Delhi brought out a paperback edition in 1981. Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London, brought out a paperback edition in 1985. By 2001, the paperback version was in its 37th edition. Amazon.com staff review/book description reads "most widely used introduction to Indian civilization. Although first published in 1954, it has remained a classic interpretation." Basham also wrote "History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas", based on his PhD work done under L. D. Barnett. He also wrote "The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism" jointly with Kenneth G. Zysk. A book about Basham, written by Sachindra Kumar Maity (published 1997, Abhinav Publications, ISBN 81-7017-326-4) is entitled Professor A.L. Basham, My Guruji and Problems and Perspectives of Ancient Indian History and Culture. the book includes 80 of Basham's letters addressed to the author. Thomas R. Trautmann a professor for history and anthropology at the University of Michigan, dedicated his book "Aryans and British India" (1997, University of California Press) 'In memory of A. L. Basham, British Sanskritist historian of India, guru, friend'.
Although this book kad been compiled for publication in 1975 (practically the middle ages, if you consider the changes that the world has undergone since then), it stands tall as the BEST primer for anybody interested in learning anyhting about India (except Cricket & Environment, and for those subjects I would like to suggest an immediate reading of works of Ramachandra Guha). It's almost impossible to find out another book covering practically the entire breadth of Indian socio-econmoic-cultural history as has been achieved by this volume. Yes, several chapters have become rather seriously dated now. And yes, several authors should have been replaced by less sympathetic (Indophilic?) but more penetrative authors even at that stage. Nevertheless, I repeat, if you a re looking for a single volume that can cover practically ALL aspects of Indian history, then look no further. Recommended.