Freedom at Midnight



[PDF / Epub] ✅ Freedom at Midnight By Larry Collins – E17streets4all.co.uk The end of an empire The birth of two nationsSeventy years ago, at midnight on August , , the Union Jack began its final journey down the flagstaff of Viceroy s House, New Delhi A fifth of humanity cl The end of an empire The birth of two nationsSeventy years ago, at midnight on August the Union Jack began its final journey down the flagstaff of Viceroy s House, New Delhi A fifth of humanity claimed their independence from the greatest empire history has ever seen but the price of freedom was high, as a nation erupted into riots and bloodshed, partition and warFreedom at Midnight is the true story of the events surrounding Indian independence, beginning with the appointment of Lord Mountbatten of Burma as the last Viceroy of British India, and ending Freedom at PDF/EPUB ² with the assassination and funeral of Mahatma Gandhi The book was an international bestseller and achieved enormous acclaim in the United States, Italy, Spain, and France There is no single passage in this profoundly researched book that one could actually fault Having been there most of the time in question and having assisted at most of the encounters, I can vouch for the accuracy of its general mood It is a work of scholarship, of investigation, research and of significance James Cameron, The New York Sunday Times Freedom at Midnight is a panoramic spectacular of a book that reads like sensational fiction than like history, even though it is all true The narrative is as lively, as informative and as richly detailed as a maharaja s palace Judson Hand, The New York Daily News Outrageously and endlessly fascinating is my awestruck reaction to Freedom at Midnight The new sure to be bestseller by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre It is all here maharajas and tigers, filth and squalor, extravagance and macabre sex, massacres, smells, starvation, cruelty and heroism Collins and Lapierre have made human history breathtaking and heartbreaking Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe No subject, I thought, as I picked up Freedom at Midnight, could be of less interest to me than a story of how Independence came to India after three centuries of British rule I opened the book and began to flip through the photographs here was a picture of Gandhi dressed in his loincloth going to have tea with the King of England there was a picture of a maharaja being measured against his weight in gold and another of thousands of vultures devouring corpses in the street I began to read, fascinated Here was the whole chronicle illustrated with anecdotes and masterful character sketches of how the British had come to India, how they had ruled it and how, finally, compelled by the force of economics and history, they had been forced to leave it divided Collins and Lapierre are such good writers that their books are so interesting that they are impossible to put down JM Sanchez, The Houston Chronicle.Freedom at Midnight

Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, he was educated at the Loomis Chaffee Institute in Windsor, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale as a BA in He worked in the advertising department of Procter and Gamble, in Cincinnati, Ohio, before being conscripted into the US Army While serving in the public affairs office of the Allied Headquarters in Paris, from , he met Dominique Lapierre with whom he would write several best sellers over yearsHe went back to Procter and Gamble and became the products manager of the new foods division in Disillusioned Freedom at PDF/EPUB ² with commerce, he took to journalism and joined the Paris bureau of United Press International in , and became the news editor in Rome in the following year, and later the MidEast bureau chief in BeirutIn , he joined Newsweek as Middle East editor, based in New York He became the Paris bureau chief in , where he would work until , until he switched to writing booksIn , Collins and Lapierre published their first joint work, Is Paris Burning in French Paris br le t il , a tale of Nazi occupation of the French capital during World War II and Hitler s plans to destroy Paris should it fall into the hands of the Allies The book was an instant success and was made into a movie in by director Ren Cl ment, starring Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford and Alain DelonIn , they co authored Or I ll Dress you in Mourning about the Spanish bullfighter Manuel Ben tez El Cordob sIn , after five years research and interviews, they published O Jerusalem about the birth of Israel in , turned into a movie by Elie ChouraquiIn , they published Freedom at Midnight, a story of the Indian Independence in , and the subsequent assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in It is said they spent , researching and still emerged wealthyThe duo published their first fictional work, The Fifth Horseman, in It describes a terrorist attack on New York masterminded by Libya s Colonel Gaddafi The book had such a shocking effect that the French President cancelled the sale of nuclear reactors to Libya, even though it was meant for peaceful purposes Paramount Pictures, which was planning a film based on the book, dropped the idea in fear that fanatics would emulate the scenario in real lifeIn , Collins authored Fall From Grace without Lapierre about a woman agent sent into occupied France who realizes she may be betrayed by her British masters if necessary He also wrote Maze A Novel , Black Eagles , Le Jour Du Miracle D Day Paris and Tomorrow Belongs To Us Shortly before his death, he collaborated with Lapierre on Is New York Burning , a novel mixing fictional characters and real life figures that speculates about a terrorist attack on New York CityIn , while working from his home in the south of France on a book on the Middle East, Collins died of a sudden cerebral haemorrhage.

Freedom at Midnight ePUB è Freedom at  PDF/EPUB ²
    If you re looking for a CBR and CBZ reader profoundly researched book that one could actually fault Having been there most of the time in question and having assisted at most of the encounters, I can vouch for the accuracy of its general mood It is a work of scholarship, of investigation, research and of significance James Cameron, The New York Sunday Times Freedom at Midnight is a panoramic spectacular of a book that reads like sensational fiction than like history, even though it is all true The narrative is as lively, as informative and as richly detailed as a maharaja s palace Judson Hand, The New York Daily News Outrageously and endlessly fascinating is my awestruck reaction to Freedom at Midnight The new sure to be bestseller by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre It is all here maharajas and tigers, filth and squalor, extravagance and macabre sex, massacres, smells, starvation, cruelty and heroism Collins and Lapierre have made human history breathtaking and heartbreaking Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe No subject, I thought, as I picked up Freedom at Midnight, could be of less interest to me than a story of how Independence came to India after three centuries of British rule I opened the book and began to flip through the photographs here was a picture of Gandhi dressed in his loincloth going to have tea with the King of England there was a picture of a maharaja being measured against his weight in gold and another of thousands of vultures devouring corpses in the street I began to read, fascinated Here was the whole chronicle illustrated with anecdotes and masterful character sketches of how the British had come to India, how they had ruled it and how, finally, compelled by the force of economics and history, they had been forced to leave it divided Collins and Lapierre are such good writers that their books are so interesting that they are impossible to put down JM Sanchez, The Houston Chronicle."/>
  • paperback
  • 629 pages
  • Freedom at Midnight
  • Larry Collins
  • English
  • 05 May 2019
  • 8125904808

10 thoughts on “Freedom at Midnight

  1. says:

    Oh goody, yet another book written through colonial tinted glasses.It s a well written, easy reading book so I can see why it s so popular, and if it was labelled fictional, I d give it four stars, for fictional it is, speaking of a world where the British Raj and it s leaders brought civilization to the masses, but the masses turned the wise Brits away even though they were led by that holiest of holy cows, Lord Mountbatten and this turning away caused mass bloodshed in the process It s almo Oh goody, yet another book written through colonial tinted glasses.It s a well written, easy reading book so I can see why it s so popular, and if it was labelled fictional, I d give it four stars, for fictional it is, speaking of a world where the British Raj and it s leaders brought civilization to the masses, but the masses turned the wise Brits away even though they were led by that holiest of holy cows, Lord Mountbatten and this turning away caused mass bloodshed in the process It s almost a biblical story, and no wonder so many people still think fondly of empire, they probably read books like this one.The target audience for the book seems to be people who want to be able to understand just enough of the British Raj to absolve the Raj of any guilt and blame Jinnah and others for much of the ills of partition.The authors struggle with the very basic idea of why some brown people wanted independence, especially when the British were so benevolent and wise, and give up and just talk about it like it was just something which was happening, no hard feelings really, except against Jinnah.The book ignores practically all Indian writings, and even famous British writers like Adam Smith or Florence Nightingale who were harping on about the British needlessly killing millions in famines every few years in British India Famines, bigger than the holocaust skip that, lets concentrate and talk about Mountbattens shiny medals and his big big parties And oh, look, Mountbatten has a Rolls Royce And he s the grandson of some queen or the other So on one side we have Mountbatten, working hard, inviting a few brown men to luncheons every now and then, working so hard, with hardly any help, just a few thousand servants, not much at all, and on on the other we have those spoilt little boys, Gandhi and Jinnah, needlessly talking about freedom and what not It was enough to put Mountbatten of his tea, but poor little Mountbatten suffered through it all, why one year he met Jinnah twice And after each visit he had to go recover in the hill stations of Simla because Jinnah was such an unpleasant little man, asking uncomfortable questions Forget the questions, did you know Jinnah was a stiff man who had this very uncomfortable stare What were those uncomfortable questions If you only read this book you won t know, for the authors were obviously very aware that Mountbatten descendents themselves would be reading this book, and they didn t want to make them uncomfortable with annoying little questions.Some reviews point out that this book is well researched I m sure it is, but only in that section of the British Imperial Archives which has been scrubbed of voices which are in any way critical of British rule, or attempt to look at it honestly.Little things like India having to bear the staggering high military cost of Empire don t exist in the authors fictionalized world Heck the authors go all the other way, and say that the British lost money during the Raj, and it was literally out of the goodness of their white hearts that the British ruled India History is a story and the problem with this book is not that it s a story the problem is that it s a glib view which completely omits and washes British hands of what they did during their occupation and departure from India

  2. says:

    Very rarely comes a defining moment that changes history to the extent of being un recognizable and very rarely comes a book that changes your life, perceptions and everything that you presumed to be true once and for all Independence of India was the defining moment in modern India and this book by the author duo Dominique Lappierre and Larry Collins on the before and after math of the same is the defining book in my life.Honestly speaking, not even the most lauding words of mine can do justic Very rarely comes a defining moment that changes history to the extent of being un recognizable and very rarely comes a book that changes your life, perceptions and everything that you presumed to be true once and for all Independence of India was the defining moment in modern India and this book by the author duo Dominique Lappierre and Larry Collins on the before and after math of the same is the defining book in my life.Honestly speaking, not even the most lauding words of mine can do justice to this beautiful, poignant and soul stirring historical documentary cum novel in which we glide through the charming yet terrifying history of our own nation during the period of 1939 49, stupefied, terrorized and wide eyed in awe and chill, as the author duo take us on a once in a lifetime kind of ride that is bound to change our very perceptions of history, beliefs and ideologies regarding the very country and society that we inhabit Frankly, never has a single book amazed and intrigued me so much, while being so educative and informative.The most astounding achievement of this book is that it rips out the aura of myths that have agglomerated around our political figures associated with the freedom movement, and humanizes each and every one of them, while being totally neutral, and being absolutely honest with the facts Every Indian has grown up on a staple of myths and legends associated with our freedom fighters These fables have a tendency to sweep history in very broad strokes, ignoring much and instead forcing us into believing generalised facts such as those about all Britishers foreigners being diabolic, all freedom fighters being pious to the hilt and many others Well, be rest assured that this book will end up ripping out each of those notions and burning them to cinders Another fascinating aspect of this book is its characterization of Mahatma Gandhi, so real yet surreal at times It shows you in clear light, the real essence of being the father of a nation It shows you what it meant to be one M.K.Gandhi You are bound to bow in humility and fall in love with this mahatma, whether you have read good or bad or nothing about him before.The other facets of the Indian independence story like the Kashmir problem and the issue of princely states have also been dealt in a very detailed manner too and are wonderful read on their own accord themselves.There is also a very horrifying and realistic account of the tragedy of partition and its bloody aftermath Through this piece, the author duo have delved into some of the darker sides of the prominent figures of that era and the whole populace as a whole This portion is the most gut wrenching one and you are left to wonder in amazement at the sheer magnitude of craziness and horror of the whole episode One gets to know why this is the one deep blemish that has stained the minds of every subsequent generation on the both sides of the border This book is recommended for anyone interested in knowing our freedom fighters, freedom movement, the Raj, the Maharajas and the Mahatma very substantially, if not wholly or in full measure.Above all, this is recommended for every Indian who wants a tryst with the quandary that is INDIA Lastly, I am sorry if I ended up writing a eulogy instead of an honest critical review, but such is the place of this book in my life, that it is almost impossible for me to view it in a critical way

  3. says:

    The saga of the Indian subcontinent s independence from Britain and the creation of the states of India and Pakistan told through a collection of interrelated stories about major events and important figures that influenced the independence movementA case of interesting history writing that doesn t present events in the dry, matter of fact chronological order although the semblance of chronology have to be and is maintained in the narrative as we find in usual history books This makes it an a The saga of the Indian subcontinent s independence from Britain and the creation of the states of India and Pakistan told through a collection of interrelated stories about major events and important figures that influenced the independence movementA case of interesting history writing that doesn t present events in the dry, matter of fact chronological order although the semblance of chronology have to be and is maintained in the narrative as we find in usual history books This makes it an accessible book for new readers.All qualities counted, however, there is a big problem with the perspective This book comes off as portraying the functioning and benevolent British Raj that sadly and unfortunately had to go due to extenuating circumstances The consensus among historians puts much blame on the short sightedness of the last British Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, and the fake urgency he created for his personal reasons to get over with it by prematurely taking the decision to partition the country This urgency to finish the job as quickly as possible led to decisions that ripped apart the social fabric of the country, echoes of which are still heard in contemporary Indo Pak relations.This book in the most part is written by using Mountbatten s archives and his direct interviews Not surprising, then, that he comes across as a helpless and powerless spectator who could do nothing in the face of consummate madness, rioting, killing, raping, and plundering that swept the Indian society on the eve of Partition independence and continued into many months Lord Mountbatten is almost absolved of making a terrible blunder whose consequences his administration was unprepared to deal with, even though he himself later admitted to the historian Stanley Wolpert, confessing, I fucked it up.Mahatma Gandhi gets good coverage as he deserves He was the only major politician to see through the horrors of Partition and the bloodshed it would unleash No one listened to his warnings Jinnah turned a deaf ear, Nehru Patel duo were eager to see British go and rule an independent country but all of them were in for a rude shock when rioting and killing on a large scale ensued as soon as Partition and independence were formally announced Originally posted 30 12 14

  4. says:

    A highly biased book which masquerades as non fiction but actually reads like sensational fiction.It was an international bestseller and any readers from outside the subcontinent are likely to get a very misleading picture.If one wants to read an objective and impartial analysis of the events that led to Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan,one should stay away from this book.If one wants merely to be entertained,then,this book will do.Readers in Pakistan may find it particularly off A highly biased book which masquerades as non fiction but actually reads like sensational fiction.It was an international bestseller and any readers from outside the subcontinent are likely to get a very misleading picture.If one wants to read an objective and impartial analysis of the events that led to Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan,one should stay away from this book.If one wants merely to be entertained,then,this book will do.Readers in Pakistan may find it particularly off putting as it gives a very negative portrayal of Pakistan s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah and essentially is an argument against partition.The book looks at events through the eyes of Lord Mountbatten,India s last viceroy.He is the good guy as far as the authors are concerned,and must save India from itself The British were a race that God had destined to rule the Indians and had acquired India naturally The authors use the mass communal slaughter that was taking place at the time as a device to keep the tension building.They relate how a canal ran red with blood and the description of the killings is very graphic.It is lots of scenes like this which helped to turn the book into a huge bestseller My distaste for this book notwithstanding,I acknowledge that the authors possess good storytelling skills.A colourful chapter describes the lavish lifestyles of Indian Maharajas as the fate of the princely states hung in the balance.I read this book several years ago,it kept me turning the pages.But looking back I don t remember it fondly because of its very obvious bias

  5. says:

    This is a terribly difficult book to rate One the one hand, it will give the reader a profound sense of the tragedy of Indian partition upon independence in 1947 Ten million people were displaced in the border crossings that followed the creation of India and Pakistan The loss of life is epic and extraordinary, and any who read it will quickly realize that members of all religious groups in this case, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus are capable of horrific violence, as well as heroic This is a terribly difficult book to rate One the one hand, it will give the reader a profound sense of the tragedy of Indian partition upon independence in 1947 Ten million people were displaced in the border crossings that followed the creation of India and Pakistan The loss of life is epic and extraordinary, and any who read it will quickly realize that members of all religious groups in this case, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus are capable of horrific violence, as well as heroic acts of self sacrifice The book is over 500 pages long and covers only one year there is no mistaking how high and how vast the stakes are as one works through it And the portrait of Gandhi is truly spectacular.On the other hand, the authors were clearly Anglophiles enad of the last British Viceroy in India, Lord Mountbatten Though they acknowledge a few of his epic mistakes, several bits of history are conveniently left out such as the fact that the British largely created and fostered the animosities that led to pre and post partition violence by promoting Sikhs, Ismailis, and Hindus as imperial agents and severely disenfranchising and terrorizing Muslims representatives of the waning Mughal empire that the Brits conquered in order to take India within a climate of extreme disparity One possible reason for this lack of crucial details the authors want the readers to believe that the violence of partition, and partition itself, was largely the fault of Muhammad Ali Jinnah the political force behind the creation of Pakistan The authors depict Jinnah as absolutist in his ego maniacal need to be the father of a new nation, rather than acknowledge the validity of his concerns that Muslims would never be treated equally in a majority Hindu independent India and might come to suffer even worse than they did under the British Perhaps this is also the reason why they scarcely mention B.R Ambedkar, self appointed political leader of India s dalit untouchable populations Ambedkar one of the authors of the Constitution also feared the fate of that community in an independent India and converted to Buddhism on his deathbed as an act of symbolic resistance to Hindu majority rule If one is looking for a gripping narrative, however, this book is certainly it The authors delve deeply into orientalist lore to depict the exploits of the maharajas princely rulers of various territories who had their sovereignty revoked upon independence in 1947 and their titles and privileges rescinded 25 years later , and are not shy about including salacious often stomach churning and horrifying stories Indians even Gandhi, at points come off looking like a pretty debilitated bunch and certainly not fit for self rule Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, this book is still the best selling account of Indian independence

  6. says:

    This is a highly readable look at one pivotal year in the history of India 1947, the year that marked the end of British rule and the partition of the subcontinent into two new nations, India and Pakistan As an introduction to the topic it is hard to beat, but readers need to be aware of several limitations 1 It was written in 1975 All of the main players were dead with the exception of Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy.2 It was written in 1975 India and Pakistan were both hard at work This is a highly readable look at one pivotal year in the history of India 1947, the year that marked the end of British rule and the partition of the subcontinent into two new nations, India and Pakistan As an introduction to the topic it is hard to beat, but readers need to be aware of several limitations 1 It was written in 1975 All of the main players were dead with the exception of Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy.2 It was written in 1975 India and Pakistan were both hard at work rewriting their own histories and much archival data was impossible to find 3 Over four prior book collaborations,Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre honed a winning formula for accessible, page turning popular histories focus on a narrow, dramatic moment in time, using a restricted point of view In Freedom at Midnight they do this superbly the back story is filled in with just enough detail for comprehension, the focus is on just five key players, and the narrative pacing is nothing short of breathtaking 4 Collins and Lapierre hit the historians mother lode with unprecedented access to the papers and person of Louis Mountbatten fortuitously, since he would be murdered by IRA terrorists just four years later The 30 hours of interviews and thousands of pages of private diaries and notes the authors sifted through give this history a special inside look as seen by the man who,than anyone, shaped the final outcome The authors have done plenty of primary research and interviewing with staff and family of other players, but there is no doubt that Mountbatten is front and center in this narrative and that the book occasionally veers towards hagiography.Because of these limitations this book is a place to start, not the place to stop in any serious study of South Asia, but reviewers who have suggested that the authors are apologists for the British are dead wrong Collins and Lapierre make it clear that the British did a great deal of damage, both before and during the final year click through to the full review to read quotes There were also many, many stories not told by this book and key players who were missing from the narrative, but that is the limitation of this type of history Jinnah does come off rather badly, but again, access to archival material was somewhat limited when the authors were penning this account, Jinnah himself was dead in 1948 , and his personality meant that most of his thoughts were carried to the grave.Those interested inrecent and expansive views of the events leading up to and following 1947 should consider The Great Partition The Making of India and Pakistan by Yasmin Khan.Those looking for the inflection point when it all started to go wrong between England and India could hardly find a better place to start than White Mughals Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India by William Dalrymple

  7. says:

    The best book ever written on the birth of Pakistan as a nation If you watch the movie Gandhi, and read this book, you have pretty much got the history of the time covered and a good understanding of the politics of the time Millions of people died when Hindus marched from the north and Muslims marched to the north Some years ago, I had an Pakistani friend who showed a group of us some photos of his old school MY God, our mutual Indian friend exclaimed, That school building is my family h The best book ever written on the birth of Pakistan as a nation If you watch the movie Gandhi, and read this book, you have pretty much got the history of the time covered and a good understanding of the politics of the time Millions of people died when Hindus marched from the north and Muslims marched to the north Some years ago, I had an Pakistani friend who showed a group of us some photos of his old school MY God, our mutual Indian friend exclaimed, That school building is my family home Virtually overnight, millions just picked up what they could carry and migrated either north or south depending on their religion Houses were abandoned on both sides and empty homes were claimed quickly by anyone opportunistic enough.This account of the events leading up to partition, and the subsequent creation of a new nation, holds nothing back It was very upsetting in part, graphic descriptions of the violence Loving citizens who were once neighbours, turned on each other instantly Massacres were common India and Pakistan are still political foes, I for one, wish partition never happened It seems a terrible waste of life, the country is better of united as one

  8. says:

    Until I read Freedom at Midnight, I really had no desire to visit the Indian subcontinent Now, I really want to visit India and, if it were safe to do so, visit Pakistan What a remarkable story these authors tell So many great passages to read and note Some humorous, some factual, some tragic Three centuries of ruling India had its impact on the men and women who came to work and rule The authors point out that getting young men to come to the Jewel in the Crown to make a name or a fortun Until I read Freedom at Midnight, I really had no desire to visit the Indian subcontinent Now, I really want to visit India and, if it were safe to do so, visit Pakistan What a remarkable story these authors tell So many great passages to read and note Some humorous, some factual, some tragic Three centuries of ruling India had its impact on the men and women who came to work and rule The authors point out that getting young men to come to the Jewel in the Crown to make a name or a fortune was easy before WWI and hard after view spoilerTheir great weakness was the distance from which they exercised their authority, the terrible racial smugness setting them apart from those they ruled Never was that attitude of racial superiority summed upsuccinctly than it was by a former officer of the Indian Civil Service in a parliamentary debate at the turn of the century There was, he said, a cherished conviction shared by every Englishman in India, from the highest to the lowest, by the planter s assistant in his lonely bungalow and by the editor in the full light of his presidency town, from the Chief Commissioner in charge of an important province to the Viceroy upon his throne the conviction in every man that he belongs to a race which God has destined to govern and subdue The massacre of 680,000 members of that race that God had destined to govern and subdue in the trenches of World War I wrote an end to the legend of a certain India A whole generation of young men who might have patrolled the Frontier, administered the lonely districts or galloped their polo ponies down the long maidans was left behind in Flanders fieldshide spoiler The descriptions of the background of Mountbatten, Nehru, Patel are excellent Gandhi is just as I see him in the eponymous movie Jinnah is given short shrift, painted in a poor light Of course, Jinnah was the catalyst for the split India partitioned or India destroyed Partitioning the country was a massive job that the demagogues didn t appreciate just how much work had to be done Mountbatten did view spoilerIt was a carefully elaborated christening present from Mountbatten and his staff to the Indian leaders, a guide to the awesome task that now lay before them Page after page, it summarized in its dull bureaucratic jargon the appalling implications of their decision None of the seven was in even the remotest way prepared for the shock they encountered as they began to turn the pages of that document Ahead of them lay a problem of a scope and on a scale no people had ever encountered before, a problem vast enough to beggar the most vivid imagination They were now going to be called upon to settle the contested estate of 400 million human beings, to unravel the possessions left behind by thirty centuries of common inhabitation of the subcontinent, to pick apart the fruit of three centuries of technology The cash in the banks, stamps in the post offices, books in the libraries, debts, assets, the world s third largest railway, jails, prisoners, inkpots, brooms, research centers, hospitals, universities, institutions and articles staggering in number and variety would be theirs to dividehide spoiler Some of the most moving and poignant vignettes are about the Indian Army as partition approaches view spoiler The Indian Army The words alone were enough to conjure up the old romantic images Gunga Din, Gentlemen Rankers off on a spree, the Road to Mandalay, the Night Runners of Bengal, White Feathers, and Gary Cooper urging his Bengal Lancers up a rocky defile For generations of English schoolboys, stuck in unheated classrooms, their eyes looking out on some forlorn, rain swept heath, the names of its regiments Skinner s and Hodson s and Probyn s Horse, the Piffers of the Frontier Force Rifles, the First Sikhs, the Rajputana Rifles, the Guides Cavalry were synonymous with glory and adventure It had epitomized the Victorian ideal of India better than anything else dark, plucky soldiers staunchly loyal to their distant empress, led by doughty young Englishmen, straight arrows all, steady under the Pathans fire, good at games, stern but devoted fathers to their men, chaps who could hold their liquor in the mess Its deeds, the exploits of its heroes were the stuff of the British Indian legend There were the sepoys, Indian infantry men, at the siege of Arcot offering their British officers their last rice rations because they knew better how to endure the agonies of starvation the Guides, galloping down to Delhi to assault the mutineers in 1857 the 6th Gurkhas swarming up the ridge from which the Turks dominated the beaches of Gallipoli, the sowars, or cavalry troopers, of the 11th Prince Albert Victor s Own Cavalry, the 2nd Royal Lancers, and the 18th Lancers stemming the rush of Rommel s armor at Meikili in the Western Desert, spurning the Field Marshal s call to surrender, and perhaps saving all Egypt by their standhide spoiler The Sikh, Hindu and Moslem components of the Indian Army all gave heartfelt farewells to their comrades who would be moving to their respective countries at partition Here is one example view spoilerThe Moslem regiments in the areas which would fall to Pakistan offered similar banquets to their Sikh and Hindu comrades leaving for India In Rawalpindi, the Second Cavalry gave an enormous barakama good luck banquet, to their former comrades Every Sikh and Hindu officer spoke, often with tears in his eyes, to bid farewell to the Moslem Colonel Mohammed Idriss, who had led them through some of the bitterest fighting of World War II Wherever you go, said Idriss in reply, we shall always remain brothers, because we spilled our blood together Idriss then canceled the order he had received from the headquarters of the future Pakistan Army insisting that all departing Indian troops turn in their weapons before leaving These men are soldiers, he said they came here with their arms They will leave with them The next morning those soldiers who had served under his command owed their lives to his last intervention on their behalf An hour out of Rawalpindi, the train bearing the Sikhs and Hindus of the 2nd Cavalry was ambushed by Moslem League National Guardsmen Without their arms they would have been massacredhide spoiler The ruling elites all thought that independence and partition would cool the tempers of the people Only Gandhi had a clue what would really happen view spoilerIronically, the one Indian leader who foresaw the awful dimensions of the tragedy ahead was the man who had tried so hard to prevent partition Gandhi had so immersed himself in the lives of India s masses, sharing their sorrows and sufferings, their daily existence, that he had a unique ability to perceive the mood of his nation One day, while the Viceroy was constructing his Punjab Boundary Force, a Moslem woman attacked Gandhi for his opposition to partition If two brothers were living together in the same house and wanted to separate and live in two different houses, would you object she asked Ah, said Gandhi, if only we could separate as two brothers But we will not It will be an orgy of blood We shall tear ourselves asunder in the womb of the mother who bears ushide spoiler As partition approaches, various groups take extreme measures to ethnically cleanse their area There are bad guys on every side Criminal gangs also find it useful to scare their competition out of the territory Warning very graphic view spoiler In the Punjab they already had started The roads and railroads of what had been the best administered province in India were unsafe Sikh hordes roamed the countryside like bands of Apaches falling on Moslem villages or Moslem neighborhoods A particular savagery characterized their killings The circumcised penises of their Moslem male victims were hacked off and stuffed into their mouths or into the mouths of murdered Moslem women In Lahore one evening a bicyclist raced out of an alleyway past the crowded coffee shop where the city s most renowned Moslem criminal held court He hurled an enormous, bell bottomed brass pot onto its packed terrace The pot went clanging through the coffee house, sending its occupants diving for cover When it failed to explode, a waiter opened it The pot contained a gift to the Moslem criminal from his Sikh rivals in crime in Amritsar Stuffed inside, instantly recognizable, was a supreme provocation scores of circumcised peniseshide spoiler Psychological warfare view spoiler Murder and arson were so senseless, so chaotic in nature that to one British police officer in Lahore it seemed like a city committing suicide The Central Post Office was flooded with thousands of postcards addressed to Hindus and Sikhs They depicted men and women being raped and slaughtered On the back was the message This is what has been happening to our Sikh and Hindu brothers and sisters at the hands of the Moslems when they take over Flee before those savages do this to you They were part of a campaign of psychological warfare being conducted by the Moslem League to create panic among Sikhs and Hindushide spoiler India at transition is truly an awesome entity that will have to be managed when the British Raj departs view spoilerCruelty and dimension a land of past accomplishment and present concern, whose future was compromised by problemstaxing than those confronting any other assembly of humans on earth Yet, for all that, for all her ills, their India was also one of the supreme and enduring symbols protruding above the cultural horizons of mankind The India represented by those men and women would be a nation of 275 million Hindus 70 million of them, a population almost twice the size of France, Untouchables 50 million Moslems seven million Christians six million Sikhs 100,000 Parsis and 24,000 Jews, whose forebears had fled the destruction of Solomon s Temple during the Babylonian exile Few of the people in the hall could talk to each other in their native language their only common tongue was the English of the colonizers, whose rule was about to end Their nation would harbor fifteen official languages and 845 dialects The Urdu of the deputies of the Punjab was read from right to left the Hindi of their neighbors in the United Provinces from left to right The Tamil of the Madrasis was often read up and down, and other tongues were decoded like the symbols on a Pharaonic frieze Even their gestures were dissimilar When a darkskinned Madrasi from the South nodded his head, he meant yes When a pale northerner made the same movement, he meant no India would harbor a leper population the size of Switzerland as many priests as there were Belgians in Belgium enough beggars to populate all of Holland fifteen million sadhus, or holy men 20 million aborigines, some like the Nagas of Nagaland still hunting human heads Ten million Indians were essentially nomads, engaged in such hereditary occupations as snake charmers, fortunetellers, jugglers, well diggers, magicians, tightrope walkers, herb vendors which kept them constantly moving from village to village Thirty eight thousand Indians were born very day, half of them to die before the age of five Ten million other Indians died each year from malnutrition, undernourishment and diseases like smallpox, eradicated in most parts of the earthhide spoiler A main theme of the authors is the sheer size and breadth of the British Empire at its peak as the Age of Imperialism is about to come to an end view spoilerThat age had begun on a soft summer day in a little Spanish port in 1492, when Christopher Columbus sailed off across the endless green seas to the edge of the world in search of India and found America by mistake Four and a half centuries of human history bore the imprint of that discovery and its consequences the economic, religious and physical exploitation of the nonwhite masses throughout the globe by the white, Western, Christian masses at its core Aztec, Inca, Swahili, Egyptian, Iraqi, Hottentot, Algerian, Burmese, Philippine, Moroccan, Vietnamese an unending stream of peoples, nations and civilizations in the course of 450 years had passed through the colonial experience decimated, impoverished, educated, converted, culturally enriched or debased, economically exploited or stimulated, but finally, irrevocably altered by it Now the famished hordes of a continent in prayer had claimed their freedom from the architects of the greatest empire those centuries had produced, a realm that dwarfed in dimension, population and importance the domains of Rome, Babylon, Carthage and Greecehide spoiler The scenes after partition are just too terrible to show here Many tragic stories 5 Stars Must read

  9. says:

    This is the first book I always recommend to anyone wanting to understand India better It covers the six months prior to and six months after 8 15 47, when India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain So basically it starts with the decision to Quit India a decision made so suddenly and brazenly and devoid of conscience in its execution as to totally boggle the mind and we still bear the fruits today, witness what s going on in Pakistan And it ends with the assassination of Gand This is the first book I always recommend to anyone wanting to understand India better It covers the six months prior to and six months after 8 15 47, when India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain So basically it starts with the decision to Quit India a decision made so suddenly and brazenly and devoid of conscience in its execution as to totally boggle the mind and we still bear the fruits today, witness what s going on in Pakistan And it ends with the assassination of Gandhi It opens with a full description of all the scriptural and other sacred referents involved in a Brahmin man heading out to the fields to take a dump in the early morning Nothing is as it would seem to an outsider in India After reading this book, you begin to be something other than a total outsider

  10. says:

    Oh dear This book gets high marks from many reviewers for its easy reading, and whilst there are some nice rhetorical flourishes, they become overused to the point of cliche if I never see the words Queen Victoria s great grandson again it will be too soon If you want to read a romanticised hagiography of Mountbatten, or, if I m being charitable, a version of the liberation of India as seen through Mountbatten s eyes read this If you want to read something that really gets to the heart o Oh dear This book gets high marks from many reviewers for its easy reading, and whilst there are some nice rhetorical flourishes, they become overused to the point of cliche if I never see the words Queen Victoria s great grandson again it will be too soon If you want to read a romanticised hagiography of Mountbatten, or, if I m being charitable, a version of the liberation of India as seen through Mountbatten s eyes read this If you want to read something that really gets to the heart of the enormous complexities of British rule in India, the Indian liberation movement, the key characters on all sides, and the results of partition including present day legacies read Michael French s excellent Liberty or Death

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