India

Michael Wood, Author Basic Books $35 (255p) ISBN 978-0-465-00359-4
In a style that blends encyclopedic knowledge with a travel narrative, Wood (In Search of the Trojan War) presents the history of a country which, he claims, is itself ""a tale of incredible drama, of great inventions and phenomenal creativity, and of the biggest ideas."" Combining ancient and recent history with archaeology, anthropology, religion and linguistic studies, Wood provides a thorough view of India's journey to the present. Woods has a long personal history with the country and he uses it to great effect, combining first person accounts (such as hunting down an original manuscript of the ancient Rig-Veda text in a Calcutta library and stopping for tea at the ""bazaar of storytellers"") with discursive accounts of Tamil literature, the analysis of Hindu legends and subtle historical interpretation. As in the past, India's greatest strength, Wood claims, will be to ""adapt and change, to use the gifts of history and to accept its wounds, but somehow, magically, to always be India."" Filled with photographs and artwork, this is an excellent primer for anyone wishing to know about the evolution of this growing world power.
Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
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