The stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, liberated 400 million people from the British Empire. With the loss of India, its greatest colony, Britain ceased to be a superpower, and its king ceased to sign himself Rex Imperator.
This defining moment of world history had been brought about by a handful of people. Among them were Jawaharlal Nehru, the fiery Indian prime minister; Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the new Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Mohandas Gandhi, the mystical figure who enthralled a nation; and Louis and Edwina Mountbatten, the glamorous but unlikely couple who had been dispatched to get Britain out of India. Within hours of the midnight chimes, their dreams of freedom and democracy would turn to chaos, bloodshed, and war.
Behind the scenes, a secret personal drama was also unfolding, as Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru began a passionate love affair. Their romance developed alongside Cold War conspiracies, the beginning of a terrible conflict in Kashmir, and an epic sweep of events that saw one million people killed and ten million dispossessed.
Steeped in the private papers and reflections of the participants, Indian Summer reveals, in vivid, exhilarating detail, how the actions of a few extraordinary people changed the lives of millions and determined the fate of nations.
A Tryst with Destiny
On a warm summer night in 1947, the largest empire the world has ever seen did something no empire had done before. It gave up. The British Empire did not decline, it simply fell; and it fell proudly and majestically onto its own sword. It was not forced out by revolution, nor defeated by a greater rival in battle. Its leaders did not tire or weaken. Its culture was strong and vibrant. Recently it had been victorious in the centurys definitive war.
When midnight struck in Delhi on the night of 14 August 1947, a new, free Indian nation was born. In London, the time was 8:30 p.m.1 The worlds capital could enjoy another hour or two of a warm summer evening before the sun literally and finally set on the British Empire.
The Constituent Assembly of India was convened at that moment in New Delhi, a monument to the self-confidence of the British government, which had built its eastern capital on the site of seven fallen cities. Each of the seven had...
Tunzelmann takes an extremely complex time period and renders it understandable in a style that is lively, witty, controversial, irreverent and, above all else, highly readable. With glowing reviews from respected historians such as Sir Martin Gilbert, who describes it as "a true tour de force", Indian Summer is narrative history at its most compelling.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1043 words).
Did you know?
Indira Gandhi was the first and only female Indian Prime Minister to date. She served three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977, and a fourth term from 1980 to 1984. Many people assume she is related to Mahatma Gandhi (mahatma is Sanskrit for great soul) but in fact she is the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister. In 1937 Indira Nehru married Feroze Ghandhy who, during the 1930s, started to spell his name Gandhi - a small change which would be of "...
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