India: A Portrait

Patrick French. Knopf, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-27243-0
Written with the flair and intuition one would expect from award-winning author Patrick French, (Younghusband) this objective account of a land of extremes examines India's historical background as the basis for continuing contradictions and plots the changing political, economic, and social landscape amidst competing ideologies and complex relationships. The book is organized into three sections. The first, "Rashtra" (Nation), is a highly engaging study of Indian identity. Mixing personal experiences with historical overviews, it is clear that in India past becomes present, with ancient history woven into daily life. Despite a constitution founded on modern principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, the formation of the nation has witnessed both triumph and disaster, and begs the question: "Is it right to ascribe unity and similarity to so many different people?" The second section, "Lakshmi" (Wealth), opens with an intriguing piece on John Maynard Keynes, whose early obsession and subsequent assessment of the Indian economy spanned two world wars. Hypocrisy is rife in a thriving Indian economy, and French's investigative journalism reveals the downside of new money. The third section, "Samaj" (Society), provides contemporary sketches highlighting cultural trends and the plight of a nation thrust into the twenty-first century spotlight. Though sometimes dense, French's latest book contains some intriguing tales and a dynamic narrative. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-14-104157-5
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-1-84614-214-7
Open Ebook - 291 pages - 978-0-307-59664-2
Paperback - 398 pages - 978-0-307-47348-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5200-2005-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-5200-2004-4
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