ABOUT THE BOOKSJump into an action-packed history of India told like never before. Discover our incredible heritage and uncover delightful nuggets about our grand old country. Travel through time and see how people lived, why things happened and how we came to be what we are. Written by BBC Mastermind ‘Champion of Champions’ Archana Garodia Gupta and history-geek Shruti Garodia, the two volumes tell us the story of India’s rulers and invaders, traders and architects, sculptors and poets, farmers and businessmen, movers and shakers, patriots and traitors, and millions of ordinary folk.
- This excellent set of books about Indian history for children spans the gamut from prehistory to the Sultanates, and from the Mughals to the present day. The authors, both by way of their extensive research and chatty, storytelling style, ensure that history is not reduced to dull chronology and instead present it as the story of the amazing events and people that make our country what it is.
- The two volumes offer a comprehensive history of India written in a highly accessible style with nuggets of information, an eye for detail, and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. For instance, of some historical texts referring to unbelievably large numbers of soldiers, horses and elephants in the army, the authors write, “It almost seems that the Indians, having invented the zero, did not know when to stop using it!” Or, while talking of the importance of the Silk Road, they say, “religions, new ideas and horrible diseases travelled along the Silk Road”.
- There’s a lot of welcome honesty about revealing certain details of our past. We learn for instance, that Vedic Indians “ate murmure, chivra and malpua” as well as “fish, turtles, cattle, goats, swine, deer, fowl and alligators!”
- Plenty of maps, photos and illustrations make the books attractive and user-friendly. However, it is the facts and trivia presented in interesting ways that make them fun for readers of all ages. Sample this: “A Kakatiya princess, Rani Rudramma Devi, was formally designated as her father’s son, wore male attire, and succeeded him at the age of 14! She died in battle at the age of 27, and was succeeded by her grandson.” Or: “Called a ‘goongi gudiya (mute doll) by Congress old-timers when she first entered politics, Indira Gandhi as PM was called the Only Man in her cabinet!”
- The ‘What in the World Was Happening’ segment at the end of each chapter is good way to let readers know about significant events taking place in the world at the time and where India stood in that context. The suggested activities in the ‘Explore More’ segments expand the scope of the book by inviting readers to visit a museum, watch a film, see a painting and even eat some treats.
- The authors have attempted to disrupt the dominant narrative when describing the ancient and medieval periods by going beyond what is ‘common knowledge’ and offering us other perspectives. However, in discussing the twentieth century, there is no attempt to record some of the sweeping changes that occurred such as the emergence of Dalit consciousness or the rise of the feminist movement.