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Indian Summer

The Secret History of the End of an Empire

by Alex Von Tunzelmann

Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann X
Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2007, 416 pages
    Sep 2008, 448 pages

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There are currently 7 reader reviews for Indian Summer
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Malwinder Reeves (01/18/12)

How can I carry on reading this one sided rubbish
I love reading historical books and have read 100s.This must be the first book that after reading 7 pages, I am struggling . What a load of rubbish. Full of pre conceived notions..what research really took place. Opening prargraph " British Empire was not forced out by revolution...leaders not tire or weaken" . This could have been OK in 1911 NOT in 2011.
"India was free and nothing to do with Gandhi" How insulting is this to the great leader ..He was not sleeping . He was on hunger strike over the injustice of the freedom agreement ... I do not think Alex left her cocoon of mis guided history details passed over for 100 years and did any real research. Her use of words make my skin crawl.

Lady Edwina being the happiest "working in filthy refugee camps.." Who are we kidding?
"India was well-nurtured & fattened chick..." what a joke! Is that after all the ships full of goodies for over 100 years bringing home (ships used to travel back to India full of soil ).

I do not think I be able to start the 2nd chapter in a hurry.

Wish more realistic research based on historical facts from Indian accounts were given as much importance as the British history. The book is not worth its money. Good try Alex
Michael Arnold (10/28/11)

Singapore innaccuracies
The author claims that 60,000 Indian troops were surrendered by some 'Colonel Hunt' in 1942 without firing a shot. This is total twaddle. General Percival had only 37,000 Indian troops even when the Japs first landed in December 1941 and far less by the time they had reached Singapore. Similarly she says the guns were fixed in concrete pointing out to sea. Again, this is rubbish. The guns were insecure emplacements but many of them had 360 degree traverse. If you really want to know what happened then read my book 'The Sacrifice of Singapore - Churchill's Biggest Blunder'. The problem with this sort of mistake is that you then wonder how many others?
Valerie (03/31/10)

Focus on personalities
I actually thought this would be more specific on the mechanics/mapmaking of the partition, but it really focuses on the major players. The book added to my knowledge of the history of India & Pakistan, and changed my opinion of Gandhi and Churchill.

I found it very readable, although if you need to slow down to check every footnote you'll be reduced to a crawl (so don't!). Our small bookclub read it and had a wonderful discussion.
Aamir (12/19/09)

A well written and easy to read book on the partition of India in 1947.
Although called ‘THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE END OF AN EMPIRE’ I wonder is there are any secrets revealed in the book. The books main theme is the interaction between Mountbatten, Lady Mountbatten and Nehru and the affect this love triangle had on the partition of India. The author accepts that despite her efforts she was not allowed to read what must be hundreds of letters exchanged between Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru. As for the fact that they had an intensely close and perhaps intimate relationship it has never been a secret (though never been publicly accepted by their families).
The book claims that Nehru was the real soul mate of Edwina (as she was to him).
The joy and happiness they both felt when together has been portrayed throughout the book.
Edwina died rather unexpectedly in 1960 aged just 58. The book claims that when she was found dead in her bed there were old letters on her bedside table as well as some scattered on her bed. It looked as if she was reading them when she died. All of the letters were from Nehru.
Humans are influenced by their likes and dislikes and for those who are in positions of power these influences can alter the course of history and affect the fate of millions. The relationship between Nehru and Mountbatten’s certainly affected the fortunes of India and Pakistan much to the loss of the later.
Perhaps a more appropriate title for the book would have been:

Flirting with democracy
A nice, light history of India and its struggle for independence as well as the rather strange personality of "Disaster Dick" Mountbatten. Edwina's relationship with Nehru is over played. A little bit would have been good, but page after page is like driving home a nail with a sledge hammer. Easy to read.
Franklin R. Rogers (06/01/08)

Indian Summer--Fact or Fiction?
Indian Summer: Review

Indian Summer by Alex von Tunzelmann is a work of almost breathtaking scope, and it is well written and at times wickedly witty. But as the old saying goes all that glitters is not gold. From the very beginning with her contrast between Elizabethan England and Akbar’s Mughal Empire in northern India, she shows a willingness, perhaps unconscious, to subordinate historical accuracy to dramatization. Although it is true that Akbar was considerably more enlightened than Elizabeth, his predecessors and successors were no better than she and in at least once instance, that of Aurangazeb, somewhat worse.

This early slant grows as the work goes on and finally leads to open misrepresentation when the author begins to treat the Partition Riots following the creation of the two separate nations, India and Pakistan, and the unfortunate result never shows more clearly than when she deals with the first Indo-Pakistan war (1947-48). Throughout her discussion of this war, she insists that only the Pathan tribesmen of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province carried out the invasion of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, but the capture by Indian forces of Lt. Col. Sikander Khan of the Pakistani regular army, several other Pakistani regulars, and vast quantities of Pakistani materiel proved to the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) that Pakistan had involved itself in the hostilities.

And Ms. von Tunzelman again almost totally misrepresents the result of India’s appeal to the UN in 1948. She asserts that the UN action was a “huge disappointment” to Nehru, but, because the resolution (UNCIP Resolution S/1100) adopted unanimously by the Security Council (August 13, 1948) gave India everything it asked for one must conclude that Nehru was greatly elated.

The ease with which one may recover these facts leads one to wonder about Ms. von Tunzelmann’s abilities as a historian. Does she write fiction? Is she a lobbyist for Pakistan? Certainly what she has written is not in all respects reliable history.
Power Reviewer
Kim (01/12/08)

Not my cup of tea
I tried, I really TRIED to get into this book, but after getting through just 50 pages in a week I had to give up, frustrated. Now, please understand that 80% of the books I read are fiction, and it does take an exceptional non-fiction book to hold my attention. It's probably just me, therefore, but I felt like Indian Summer read too much like a history text book. So, be warned: This book is for history buffs.
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