Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire
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)
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 ...more
The young noblewoman, von Tunzelmann, was known to me from her occasional column of ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
The Indian ...more
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 ...more
Thus begins Alex Von Tunzelmann’s amusing work Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire , ...more
"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
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 ...more
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.
"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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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.
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 ...more