Tag Archives: British Raj

Next stop, India – Politics, Passion, and Pillage

In honor of my daughter and Mina’s daughter working and studying in India, the book club has decided to read Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire by Alex Von Tunzelmann.

It helps that I’ve already read it*, so I can whole-heartedly recommend this vivid history of end of the British Raj and the founding the modern states of Pakistan and India. It’s a panoramic portrait of the tricky politics of religion, caste, anti-colonialism, and British attitudes toward imperialism.

Juiciest — and what sold my picky fellow readers — is the sex. Namely, the romantic triangle featuring the last Viceroy of India, Dickie Mountbattan, who presided over the partition and the British exit, his glamorous wife, Edwina, and her passionate love affair with the handsome, lonely, and brilliant Nehru, India’s first prime minister.

Gandhi and Jinnah, the fiery Muslim who insisted on a separate state, the conflicts and violence among Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, and the British incompetence and indifference that led to horrific violence as the British left are described with cinematic flair.

It’s a great read, and should produce lively discussion.

*I prepared the index