Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: India A Portrait

Patrick French has written a thoroughly insightful and engrossing account of India. It shows how some of the events have shaped the current socio-economic-political environment of India and what makes it tick.

Usually we end up reading only a historical perspective of the country, but in India: A Portrait, Patrick French has taken a different route. He gives us insights into the three fundamental walks of life- political, economic, social changes that have seen the country change. He creates an engrossing account of India and Indians such as Nehru, Ambedkar, Indira Gandhi who have shaped the country. The book is a must read for every Indian to understand the dynamics that govern our nation today. It is very well researched and the topics he writes on depict the various slices of life in India, and also of some people who have left a lasting impact on the landscape of India. French’s understanding of India, Indians and his keen sense of observation come across clearly while reading the book.

French, with his superb sense of history and political insight, and an eye for the extraordinary that is as keen as his understanding of the everyday, he builds a compelling narrative of the social and economic revolutions that are transforming India in fundamental ways. Focusing on the most recent changes, he shows how extreme hunger and destitution persist even as millions are pulling themselves free of poverty, how nepotism has triumphed in politics and how sudden societal changes allow the deeply traditional and the startlingly unconventional to coexist.

The book is a richly detailed, wide-ranging and hugely rewarding portrait of modern India. It is a winner hands down and should be in everyone’s reading list.

About the Author:

Patrick French is a writer and historian, born in England in 1966. He is the author of Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer, which won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Royal Society of Literature W.H Heinemann Prize, Liberty or Death:  India’s Journey to Independence and Division, which won the Sunday Times Young Writer of The Year Award, Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land and, most recently, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hawthornden Prize.

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