Book Review – India’s Struggle for Independence

MRP Rs 299

My Rating: 8/10

The book is written stage by stage by 5 authors , one of them being the renowned Historian BIPAN CHANDRA. Its a hefty account (not so heavy as the proudest history books it has 528 pages excluding exhaustive bibliography and index) of events starting from the Mutiny of 1857 up to the attainment of Independence. Although it has tried to accomodate the complete “struggle” period, it can’t be termed as an exhaustive account as one book can hardly cover the bredth of the period. Nor was it intended to go into the minute details of all the alternate struggles of the likes of Indian National Army, etc. Unlike textbooks, this book has a fiction like appeal quite engrossing and passionately written from starting to end without any apparent bias on Liberal, Communal or Communist nature. Moreover, it contains essays analysing the rationale and the possible consequences of various movements and the leaders who perpetrated and orchestrated them. I feel that the essays were a scholarly work and quite convincing. The tone of the book is like a story and the ideas of the authors are clearly and aptly toned as suggestive unlike didactic.

A large part of the book hovers around Indian National Congress perhaps because the organisation was central to the independence struggle. Throughout the book I felt that the Muslim League part has been ignored but to my pleasant surprise last quarter of the book brings communal politics to the fore and produces it in such a fine and scholarly way. Another important issue of how Gandhi is portrayed in the context of the struggle is worth mentioning. Although, there is an attempt to justify his actions, the authors have also kept open the questions where his decisions have led to irregularities. To those who want to read this book for competition studies must keep in mind that the book doesn’t cover whole of modern indian period. British period before 1857 is not covered (except for the events leading upto 1857 revolt) perhaps because of the lack of relevance to the topic at hand. Authors have also made an attempt to compare the indian struggle to other international philosophies, especially the marxist philosophy of Antonio Gramsci.

All in all, the authors have presented the passionate and often misunderstood details with cool brains and warm hearts. Its very scientific in its analysis and scholarly in its reach. The book can be read by almost anyone. Moreover, it can be easily re-read. It is a must read for an indian reader.


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