The Proudest Day: India's Long Road to Independence

Fisher, David; Read, Anthony

Published by W. W. Norton & Company, 1998
ISBN 10: 0393045943 / ISBN 13: 9780393045949
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In 1835, Lord Macaulay, in his Minute on Indian Education, had prophesied that the eventual self-rule of India would be "the proudest day in British history."

And yet when independence came on the stroke of midnight of August 14, 1947, events unfolded with a violence that shocked the world: entire trainloads of Muslim and Hindu refugees were slaughtered on their flight to safety --not by the British, but by each other. Macaulay's dream had become a flawed and bloody reality. The Proudest Day is a riveting account of the end of the Raj, the most romantic of all the great empires. Anthony Read and David Fisher tell the whole epic story in compelling and colorful detail from its beginnings more than a century earlier; their powerful narrative takes a fresh look at many of the events and personalities involved, especially the three charismatic giants --Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah --who dominated the final, increasingly bitter thirty years. Meanwhile, a succession of British politicians and viceroys veered wildly between liberalism and repression until the Raj became a powder keg, wanting only a match.

Review: The birth of the Indian National Conference in 1885 served as the formal beginning to India's long struggle to evict the British. When independence finally arrived on August 15, 1947, India soon found itself fighting yet another enemy: itself. Without a solid blueprint from which to draw its own government and infrastructure, India's internal struggles meant enormous suffering for the population. As Anthony Read and David Fisher clearly point out, much of the turmoil resulted from the inability of Indian leaders to work in concert, pitting India and Pakistan against one another before they could even begin to celebrate their freedom. It's evident the authors find much to admire in India, but their evenhanded analysis prevents even a touch of the hagiographical; even the failings of the legendary Gandhi are expanded upon. Nehru, Lord Mountbatten, and the Muslim leader Jinnah are also skewered for their poor choices and lack of vision and leadership. In all fairness, the transition to democratic self-rule was no small task, particularly in regard to dealing fairly with the multiple ethnic and religious groups that abound in India, but the authors elaborate on the past sins of the Indian government, because it is within these failings that the true story of modern India is found. These long gazes into the past also help determine what the impact of the current crisis within the Congress Party may be now that Hindu nationalists and religious fundamentalists are in control.

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Title: The Proudest Day: India's Long Road to ...
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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