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Miss M’s Cultural Corner: INDIAN SUMMER: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE END OF AN EMPIRE

INDIAN SUMMER: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE END OF AN EMPIRE
by Alex Von Tunzelmann
September 30, 2008

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Miss M’s Reading List:

A riveting look at India’s independence from Great Britain and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, facilitated by a number of fascinating individuals, the Mountbattens, Ghandi, Nehru, and Jinnah…a little gossipy, but still, full of information about which most Americans have no clue.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The transfer of power from the British Empire to the new nations of India and Pakistan in the summer of 1947 was one of history’s great, and tragic, epics: 400 million people won independence, and perhaps as many as one million died in sectarian violence among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. In her scintillating debut, British author von Tunzelmann keeps one eye on the big picture, but foregrounds the personalities and relationships of the main political leaders—larger-than-life figures whom she cuts down to size. She portrays Gandhi as both awe inspiring and, with his antisex campaigns and inflexible moralism, an exasperating eccentric. British viceroy Louis Dickie Mountbatten comes off as a clumsy diplomat dithering over flag designs while his partition plan teetered on the brink of disaster. Meanwhile, his glamorous, omnicompetent wife, Edwina, looks after refugees and carries on an affair with the handsome, stalwart Indian statesman Nehru. Von Tunzelmann’s wit is cruel—Gandhi… wanted to spread the blessings of poverty and humility to all people—but fair in its depictions of complex, often charismatic people with feet of clay. The result is compelling narrative history, combining dramatic sweep with dishy detail. 8 pages of b&w photos.

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