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Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,200 ratings  ·  381 reviews
A re-creation of one of the key moments of twentieth-century history: the partition and independence of India, and the final days of the Raj.
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Simon & Schuster
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Rinkan Rohit Jena its on history and the biggest blunder of some so called Freedom fighters ( not my wordings " if you have congress ideology read it , it worth a lot )
Saurabh Singh It was "Persuading" more than 500 princely states to join either of to be dominions and most of them being geographically in and around India rather…moreIt was "Persuading" more than 500 princely states to join either of to be dominions and most of them being geographically in and around India rather than to be Pakistan, joined India thus giving India the map it has today. As has been pointed by Alex that Mountbatten being representative of British empire -the vanguard of princely states for over a century- and himself being a Royalty, his cajoling carried greater weight coupled with nuanced to open warning of chaos from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

It is even said that Indian national congress accepted June 3 partition plan on tacit understanding that Mountbatten, using his position, will talk sense into princes mind that their independent existence, post withdrawal of British paramountcy, was politically and economically unfeasible and this he (Louis Mountbatten) did most effectively e.g. his July 25 1947 speech to the chamber of princes was tour de force (as pointed by Ramchandra Guha in his "India after Gandhi")(less)
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Riku Sayuj
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it

Tunzelmann has concocted a very readable and balanced history of the last days of Empire. Tunzelmann avoids demonizing any sect, individual or nation and shows the circuitous routes through which every decision was squeezed out, many tragedies averted and many more inadvertently precipitated.

He shows the human frailties and noble aspirations of all of the major participants and does not shirk away from exploring the controversial bullheadedness of Gandhi or from going into great detail about
My opinion coming into this book was that had Edwina Mountbatten established a ménage a quatre including Jinnah instead of simply a trois excluding him then the business of partition at the end of the British Raj might have been entirely avoided. In part this was confirmed by reading this book, leaving me to imagine that I had formed my view after reading a review of von Tunzelmann's account in the first place.

The young noblewoman, von Tunzelmann, was known to me from her occasional column of
Concerning spoilers: this is a history book. I DO talk about India's history. If you consider that a spoiler, read no more. For me, reading the facts several times only helps to cement them into my head.

I loved this book from beginning to end. If you want a fiction that is light, do not read it. If you want to really understand the people that pulled off India's independence, then I highly recommend it. It is non-fiction, but of the best kind! You learn about the private and public lives of
Lubinka Dimitrova
I chose this book for the purpose of learning more about the events that surrounded the end of the British Raj and the partition of India, being fully aware of its underlying "gossipy" nature. Alex von Tunzelmann presents those tumultuous events and their aftermath through five people: lord Mountbatten and his wife Edwina, the incoming Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and the informal political leader of India Mohandas Gandhi. Although I wasn't ...more
Vikas Lather
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The book has, arguably,the most arresting opening despite being a non fiction (only exception- Orwell's 1984, David Copperfield and Moby Dick)

Alex begins the story of British Raj with, "In the beginning, there were two nations. One was a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive sathe of the earth. The other was an underdeveloped, semi-fedual realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased
Steve Greenleaf
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of the benefits of reading history is that you don’t have to be an academic historian to succeed in the field. Indeed, from Herodotus and Thucydides to Gibbon, Macaulay, Carlyle, Parkman, and Henry Adams, up through many successful and worthwhile practitioners writing today, we have a wealth of non-academic historians who enlighten and entertain us with graceful prose. (I realize one might argue about Adams, since he taught Medieval History at Harvard for a while, but I don’t believe that ...more
Umesh Kesavan
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
A gripping account of the last days of British Raj in India. The book focuses on the personalities of Edwina , Dickie and Nehru to explain how things panned out as they did in 1947. The author's eye for detail and interesting anecdotes make the book a valuable addition to the literature on partition.
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
God six months later and I finish the book. Serves me right to read about vicious civil wars. It was wonderful, depressing and tried to end on an optimistic yet trying to be a little realistic note. I read this on a recommendation by the New Yorker, who seemed to enjoy it except the reviewer was irritated by the author's focus on the open marriage of the last viceroy of India. The reviewer implied it was gossipy. Perhaps because I am a gossip by nature, I enjoyed that aspect, though I saw the ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History enthusiasts with prior knowledge of Indian Freedom Struggle
Rating: 3.5 stars, maybe?

Edwina Mountbatten is a remarkable woman and this needs to be acknowledged.

I shall return to this later.

For a country that boasts nearly five thousand years of history, the mere two hundred years of the colonial rule seems to have the maximum impact, poisoning the psyche of the descendants. Sadly, Indian historians have taken a lot of liberty in portraying a moth-eaten sequence and analysis of events. With the generation
Nicholas Whyte

A very readable account of the British withdrawal from India, largely from the point of view of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten, whose papers are used extensively, though with some effort also made to include the roles of the other key political players. On Lord Mountbatten's responsibility for the horrors of partition, I found it was a useful alternative viewpoint to the hatchet-job by Andrew Roberts which I read several years ago. While I think that von
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first thing that comes to my mind after reading Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann is that why does it take a westerner to write such an intriguing story about Indian History. The reason is beyond my comprehension till date as common sense suggests the otherwise. The Indians must be having greater access to archives, letters of iconic personalities and first hand interviews of the survivers. This I am saying as I have also read Indira by Katherine Frank and found it excellent.
The Indian
Subhashish Sarkar
Oct 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
I am a history buff and considering the subject of the book, naturally, I had some expectations. However, I was very disappointed not just by how the subject was treated but also by how ill researched the author is about the subject.
I guess it takes some time to understand for a new author that writing on history is a delicate matter. You have to be aware when you are thrusting your biased opinions about events and people. You cannot have people painted in black and white.

One has to deliver
An interesting and detailed historical account of the end of the British Empire in India (which included West Pakistan and East Pakistan or Bangladesh as we know it today) and the bloodbath that heralded Pakistan and India's independence in 1947. Louis "Dickie" Mountbatten and his wife Edwina's lives were intrinsically intertwined with the political upheaval. As Viceroy of India and then Governor General, Dickie worked front and center on behalf of the British government - as negotiator, ...more
Shariq Chishti
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tunzelmann has written a fascinating & readable history of the partition of India for the uninitiated. Anyone with even a slight interest in modern history of the subcontinent would be aware of this period but where Tunzelmann succeeds is in weaving the story through the brilliant & flawed characters like Gandhi, Nehru, Mountbattens & Jinnah. She brings to the fore eccentricities & colorful nature as well as strengths and weaknesses of these characters. She is also very objective ...more
Sarath Ramakrishnan
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian-history
“IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE TWO NATIONS. ONE WAS A vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swath of the earth. The other was an undeveloped, semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England.”

Thus begins Alex Von Tunzelmann’s amusing work Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire ,
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent history of the summer of partition told through the personalities of the the key elite figures involved—in particular, Dickie Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Edwina Mountbatten. The Mountbattens were a glamorous, zany, and completely fascinating couple whose influence on Indian Independence is hard to overstate. There are so many great details (though he had his virtues, Dickie is basically a joke—he’s the naval commander who kept sinking his own ships, the Governor-General who ...more

Inglorious Exit

"Poor, accident-prone Dickie [Mountbatten], long known in the Admiralty as the ‘Master of Disaster,’ had been given more power over 400 million subjects of the British king-emperor than any preceding viceroy. The task of reconciling the Indian politicians, reestablishing public order, and finding a formula for an independent India was awesome, and quite beyond Mountbatten’s experience. India would have been within its rights to panic, but from the British government’s point of

Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in modern Indian history
A well-written overview of the political and personal forces that lead to independence, partition and war between Pakistan and India, focusing particularly on the relationship between Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten.

What particularly pleased me about this book was its value use as an 'addendum' to Freedom at Midnight. "Freedom" follows Mohandas Gandhi and Louis Mountbatten through 1947-48; Tunzelmann focuses instead on Nehru, Edwina Mountbatten, and (to a far lesser degree) Jinnah. Taken
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
this book starts off great but quickly degenerates into "Why I hate Dickie Mountbatten" — altho, in fact, the author never explained (i made it halfway) why she DOES hate him. The author (a recent oxford grad, and with her blond hair apparently not an Indian or Pakistani) never comes right out and says "I blame Dickie for the all the things that are wrong with India; and when you think about it, India isn't doing so badly compared to many other nations. The book begins with good history and ...more
Kumar Anshul
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book on the independence and partition of India and Pakistan, one can lay his hands upon. Full of clandestine anecdotes and witty exchange of dialogues between the architectures of Indian independence (Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and the Mountbattens), this book also portrays the much controversial love affair between Pandit Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten in a much clearer light, which is sure to make you appreciate its uniqueness, sublimity and the effect it had on the political fabric ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A diligent and well structured history, maybe nearer to five stars. The interwoven threads of Nehru and the Mountbattens make for an interesting inner narrative against the overlay of the enormously larger story of the independence & partition of India.

Certain emotional moments and images-- while not at all stooping to 're-creation' tactics-- remain stubbornly, hauntingly, with the reader, long after the book has been shelved.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This time I have decided to share some excerpts from the book as I progress through the pages, and write nothing of my own views.

"IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE TWO NATIONS. ONE WAS A vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swathe of the earth. The other was an undeveloped, semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was
Himanshu Modi
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Man... why is history not taught like this? Sure, leave out the lurid bits. The rest of it could have been in history books. Oh yeah... then all our politico leaders would have been human beings, and not Bahubali's they all seem to be. That, if anything, is the biggest takeaway from the book.

In the current political climate, it is anyways fashionable to be either anti-Nehru and anti-Gandhi. Or if you are that, you by default also support fascism and dictatorships.

What such polarizing opinions
Revanth Ukkalam
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is really the dramatic history of the British empire's sudden and brutal demise (giving rise to two new independent states) - making it a good complement to Larry Collins and Dominique Lapiers' magisterial work 'Freedom at Midnight'.

However much more than that and most histories, Tunzelmann in this book uses the human aspect of politics to explain what happened and why. Therefore what comes through is the story of the noble intentions of Gandhi and Jinnah, and most importantly Nehru
Ben Merton
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Indian Summer supersedes all previous accounts of Independence, including those done by Patrick French and Lapierre/Collins.

This is partly because it’s the more recent history and partly because of von Tunzelmann’s studiously researched insights into the relationship between Edwina Mountbatten and Nehru. Prior to reading this book, I remained in two minds about the extent of their relationship, but Indian Summer clearly puts any lingering doubts to rest.

Von Tunzelmann is also balanced in his
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A distilled version of the 1947 partition and the role that relationships (particularly between Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru) played in shaping the countries that we know as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As a Bangladeshi, it's particularly interesting to learn how Sir Cripps divided the Bengal state keeping in mind the religion of majority of population in the region. Calcutta was supposed to become part of East Bengal/Pakistan, but was awarded to India considering its strategic ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well researched and very lucidly told narrative. Very fact and documents-based account of the months leading to (and immediately after) the independence of India and Pakistan.

Fascinatingly woven narrative which weaves the socio-economic-political context of the time, the key players (each of the two Mountbattens, Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah and other players), the three countries (Britain, India and Pakistan), how events unfolded and interspersed with an outsider’s perspective.

Delight to read.
Vaibhav Anand
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very rarely, do you come across a history book that commands to be read - every day, every hour, every minute.

Tunzelmann has mined the history of our nation to give us facts hitherto unknown: the eggheadedness of Mountbatten, his rather unconventional marriage to Edwina and Nehru - Nehru the superhero. My favorite character in the book was Nehru - a man with the backbone to take on international powers, with the very Indian ability to get into streetfights with rioters and hooligans (just
Thejas Ravindranath
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thejas-50-books
Delves deep into some of the characters that impacted Britain's decision to leave India: Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Patel and of course Louis and Edwina Mountbatten. Astonishing how even small things like the relationship between the Mountbatten couple had a huge impact on the 3 countries - India, Pakistan and UK.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This well researched, edited, and organized work takes a complicated subject and makes it accessible, even riveting. It is well written in a way that brings this era to life and holds each actor accountable, yet maintains their complex humanity.
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Alex von Tunzelmann is a British historian and author.
“IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE TWO NATIONS. ONE WAS A vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swathe of the earth. The other was an undeveloped, semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England.” 8 likes
“Whatever may be said about Mountbatten’s tactics or the machinations of Patel, their achievement remains remarkable. Between them, and in less than a year, it may be argued that these two men achieved a larger India, more closely integrated, than had 90 years of the British raj, 180 years of the Mughal Empire, or 130 years of Asoka and the Maurya rulers.” 2 likes
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