Indian Summer by Alex von Tunzelmannn The Secret History of the End of the Empire

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When I heard about  a seminar on India at the Troy Public Library, I was very excited and braved the low temperatures and the icy streets to attend.We were to read, discuss, and connect  a novel and a non-fiction book on India to India.   I prefer non-fiction more than novels these days, so I am sharing this first.  Way back during my time in India, I gave you some books if you , too, are interested in learning through the power of books. Here is one more.  I was traveling yesterday, so I have not finished reading this but I think you can get the idea.

The Indian Summer is history that comes alive with von Tunzelmann’s narrative history-writing. You will meet all the main characters of the the story of partition of India: the triad  of  Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah, the three men who shaped history, their personal history and their Indian public history. You will meet Lord Mountabatten and his wife Edwina, and the Duke of Windsor and how their lives and  ideas  intertwined to write the history of India. There are stories, too,  of the common men and women and how their lives were affected because of the decisions made by the main characters. All together they joined the trail of the pilgrims’ progress of India.

I will use some of Ms. von Tunzelmann’s  words to give you an idea of  her elegant storytelling.

“On a warm summer night in 1947, the largest empire the wold had ever seen did something no empire had done before. It gave up.  The British Empire did not decline, it simply fell; and it fell proudly and majestically onto is own sword. It was not forced out by revolution, nor defeated by a greater rival in battle. Its leaders did not tire or weaken. Its culture was strong and vibrant. Recently it had been victorious in the century’s definitive war.

When midnight struck in Delhi on the night of 14 August 1947, a new free Indian nation was born”   Page 3 von Tunzelmann

“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 underdeveloped, semi-feudal realm rived by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and sinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England. The year was 1577. . . . . . . ” p. 11 von Tunzelmann

“India today is not Gandhi’s India, though there remains an enormous affection for him.  There are element of Gandhi’s India  in the  nation’s spirituality;  elements of Nehru’s India in its education, culture and technology;  elements of Jinnah’s India in the parts that remain outside ; and even element of the Montabatten’s India in the continuing membership of the Commonwealth held by India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Though the echoes of 1947 still resonate around Kashmir, and Jinnah’s Pakistanis have taken a very different route from the one he might have wanted, the vast and diverse nation of India has its sights fixed firmly on the future. ” p. 318 von Tunzelmann.

This is incredible India!   T I I I

For day 8 of zero to hero, I haven’t changed my about page, but I have submitted a post for the day.

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
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35 Responses to Indian Summer by Alex von Tunzelmannn The Secret History of the End of the Empire

  1. lauramacky says:

    This sounds so interesting. I wonder if this is on iBooks? I can’t hold a regular book due to some nerve damage in my hand. i’m going to check it out. I LOVE the way you write and what you post about India. It gives me the magic chills!! Thank you.

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  2. Yara Damaj says:

    This is so amazing! And it sounds so interesting.. I’m adding that book to my must read list! Thanks for sharing =D

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    • annetbell says:

      Let me know what you think! Have you read Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers? About the slums in Mumbai. One of my favorite books on incredible India!

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      • Yara Damaj says:

        I sure will! No I haven’t.. Should I check it out first??

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      • annetbell says:

        Both are great . I read Boo book a while ago. It is more contemporary . Let me know what you think ‘

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      • Yara Damaj says:

        I will see which is available at the university bookstore an will rent it and I’ll order the other online! Thanks for the suggestions! Will keep in touch!!

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      • annetbell says:

        Which University do you attend? I am always curious of all my new friends all over the world!

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      • Yara Damaj says:

        I go to the American University of Beirut its in Lebanon! It is interesting to meet all those people.. It must be great.. I’m still a rookie at blogging

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      • annetbell says:

        Oh, that is a new country for me. How are things in Beirut? I remember when it was called the Paris of the East, but with all the war and killing, it must be much different now.

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      • Yara Damaj says:

        Its actually great.. Its kind of exceptional, with everything going on the people have such a strong will to get up work, go for drinks and enjoy their time. Its a very weird combination of fear of the unknown and partying. I think we just got desensitized and its the n1 country with more than 250% of its population has emigrated and it ranks higher than Scandinavian countries education of citizens wise. Its a real survivor country.

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  3. Gopi Krishna B says:

    Have you heard of revisionist history? All official history of India is left liberal. No wonder intellectuals and writers conveniently overlook the role played by nationalist hindu organisations. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was found in 1925 and they are still active. The much reviled Sangh has given India a respected PM(Vajpayee) and some Chief Ministers. Am I to believe that they played no positive role whatsoever in pre-independent India? Why the obsession with inner temple lawyers? Is it because they studied English law, were Crown-approved, and fit somewhat into the white man’s framework of how the World should be( or how the brown man should behave) ?

    British Raj Motto: ” You are either with us(as in peaceful, non-violent protests against the delightful master race) or kalapani for you.”

    Did the British and other European powers ever apologize for Imperialism or at least for dragging former colonies (by force and deceit ) into “their” wars? Did these Gandhi’s, Nehru’s, and Jinnah’s oppose recruitment of colonized into European wars? Are there memorials for the dead and forgotten of the third-world?

    Look at the BBC. Any negative incident in China or India and they jump into it with such gusto, tom-tomming it to the whole world. At least the Chinese have strengthened themselves to hit back. As an Indian I know fully well that my own English language media is a Western stooge and at best would whimper or tut-tut in grand British style.

    Breaking News: Lady Thatcher might have had a role in the Indian Army action in Golden Temple, Amritsar. The Lady is dead and gone, and now they declassify this information. And we are supposed to nod our heads in approval, and believe that Western interventions and shameless exploitation of India’s fault lines are coming to an end. PATHETIC!

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    • annetbell says:

      I do, indeed, know about revisionist history because it happens in the US as well and it also upsets those of us who have lived through the events. It seems that the writing of history is left to the winners of the conflicts. Of all you have shared, I only know about the Golden Temple attack and thought that was Mrs. Gandhi attaching the Sikhs but of course, Congress party has always had a close affiliation with the British.
      I thank you taking time to comment on this book and writing to me. I wish only the best for Indian and her people.

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  4. I have read this book. I think the author was doing her Ph.D thesis on this subject. I have done some book reviews on topics that had interested me from time to time. Please go through them at leisure. You might be interested in some of the books yourself.
    http://amaruvi.wordpress.com/tag/book-review/

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    • annetbell says:

      Are you familiar with Chetan Bhagat and “What Young India Wants?” He is bright and well educated with uMBA but the style and vocabulary are on a low reading level . I think he did that so the audience would include less well educated. Still was enlightening and interesting to me! I think Mr . Modi read it! 😎

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      • Madam, Chetan writes for the masses. By masses, I mean the middle class technically educated high fliers whose sense of language is defined by the use of the choicest epithets and foul language (a direct Hollywood influence ). The booming educated middle class that contributes towards the demographic dividend serves him well. I would recommend Arun Shourie to you. You might find his books interesting.

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      • annetbell says:

        LOL, I love your description of the middle class, true here , too! Is Shourie on the list you sent me yesterday? Professor might enjoy him, too!

        Are you an academic?

        One more book that students and we read while in India was White Tiger which is fiction , depressing, and not a happy Indian peasant story. I don ‘t think you would like it!

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      • Madam, I am not a academic. I work for a bank in the technology space. Hope to be an academic one day.

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      • annetbell says:

        I am not used to being called madam! Well, your education, aptitude and command of language is most apparent. That is Chetan ‘s background as well. Interesting. I have googled Shourie and sent the information to my husband. Have a lovely weekend!

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      • annetbell says:

        BEHIND the BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai under-city by Katherine Boo This book was the National Book Award winner for 2012, as well as the National Book Critics’ Circle Award finalist in the same year. Boo researched residents of the slum for five years to tell their stories. This sum neighborhood has been plowed under so as not to upset the tourists arriving by plane into Mumbai. Where do slum dwellers live when their boxes and shacks are plowed under? I found this a riveting read.

        This is another book I remembered that I read on India. It is excellent.

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