Modern India

India relief location map, Wikimedia Commons

Question my territorial integrity at your peril, peeps
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

One of the most interesting and provocative things I read last year was a brief political history of modern India by Perry Anderson, published as three long essays in the London Review of Books. Sharply written and with an iconoclastic view of the successes and failures of Indian nationalism from the late colonial period to the present, the essays are a bracing introduction to the subject for specialists and non-specialists alike—they’ll certainly help you understand what’s going on when you listen to news from the country today. As a historian of a different part of the world, I found the essays full of useful insights and ideas: a fine comparative perspective to help me understand my own subject.

Having read the first essay when it came out, I wasn’t surprised to see a note from the editors of the LRB under the second saying that they’d started to receive letters in response and ‘expected to receive many more’. A batch of them were published after the third and final essay had come out; on the website, they’re now visible under each essay, but it’s worth waiting until you’ve read all three before you move onto the letters.

You can read the essays (without subscription) here:

Gandhi centre stage

Why partition?

After Nehru

Anderson’s response to the letters—most of which were critical, predictably and unpredictably—can be found here.

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