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John Keay writes with a certain dispassion that I found to be truly interesting in the initial stages. He does have the awe and wonderment about this lumbering elephant called India and yet he hides no punches or criticism when it comes to the diplomatic tact which has been used to best effect by the Indians while dealing with Pakistan or China. Through the eyes of different regimes and military dictatorship, it is a vivid portrayal of how a once promised land became a hotbed for armed insurgency.

In spite of the claims in the back jacket, not much attention is lavished on the other nations. Be it Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal or Bhutan all are polished off within the space of 20 to 30 pages. Behind every one of these stories stands the tall shadow of India.


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To John Keay, the nation is sometimes a savior and sometimes a villain and sometimes stands by with its arms folded as a house of cards in the guise of a stable government comes tumbling down in its own backyard. Personally, I feel this is more of a history of post-independence India than anything else. Truth be told, it is a rehash of what countless other authors have written and I did not find much of new material in what Keay has contributed here.

If however, you do know what transpired in India post , you can safely give this a miss. The consequences of the partition of the Indian Subcontinent whoops, sorry, we're supposed to call it "South Asia" now are still reverberating, and John Keay, who has written many well-received books on this contentious region is well-placed to narrate the various fates of the nations that gained their freedom from Great Britain after said partition.

Struggles over communal differences, over population, territorial disputes, the maintenance of democracy, the clash of ancient cultures and means The consequences of the partition of the Indian Subcontinent whoops, sorry, we're supposed to call it "South Asia" now are still reverberating, and John Keay, who has written many well-received books on this contentious region is well-placed to narrate the various fates of the nations that gained their freedom from Great Britain after said partition.

Struggles over communal differences, over population, territorial disputes, the maintenance of democracy, the clash of ancient cultures and means of control, and the advent of nuclear weapons are all grist to his thorough mill. I could have done with a bit more about the nations other than India: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal are under-represented here, in my opinion. Another pages in this well-written and informative book would not have gone amiss. Nonetheless, it is a good introduction to the post history of these countries, and well worth the time one takes to read it, if you have any interest at all in them.

Informative, especially about India. Great to take this back to back with Blood Telegram the events of which take up just a few pages, combined. Helpful beginner's guide to the Nehru-Gandhi years, and also blissfully up to date.

I wonder what he'll have to say about the Modi government? Jul 23, Abhi Gupte rated it liked it. This is a good attempt at writing a comparative history of South Asia's problems. However, Keay struggles to maintain coherence across time, space and theme. For example, there are many cases of jarring jumps across several decades in the pursuit of explaining a particular trend. I also got the feeling that Keay glossed over some very important topics terrorism in India. However, he spent a good bit of time on some topics that I was not familiar with Indian imperialism.


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As with most "combined This is a good attempt at writing a comparative history of South Asia's problems. As with most "combined histories", I would prefer reading books on individual topics. May 04, Arvind rated it it was ok Shelves: indian-history-after The book barely devotes a dozen pages to Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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Secondly there are multiple glaring factual errors. Thirdly, the book seems a rehash and a bit clumsy rehash and a poor cousin of existing books on India's post independence history like India after Gandhi by Guha. Feel like cheated. Bought this book bcoz I liked India:A history by the same author which is still recommended but will be wary of picking up a book by him again.

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Good overview This is a great book if you want an overview of South Asia since that doesn't get bogged down in details. Feb 18, Dmitri rated it liked it Shelves: india. It was difficult for me to determine the differences between them, so I decided to read and review both. I haven't had an opportunity to read the Khan book yet, which looks like a more scholarly alternative.

He is quoted extensively by Keay, and I wonder: why not just read Guha? I am unable to answer that at this time, and will have to find out later. The writing may not have won any awards, but it is intelligent and entertaining.


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  6. Keay takes a measured view without prescribing what should have been done in order to have averted the crisis of Partition. While his analysis of South Asia after the events of is somewhat superficial, it does show that the Partition should not be seen in a time capsule. Hajari- If you are looking for an exciting account focused only on events shortly before and during the Partition you may prefer this book. It is written in an engaging way, and it almost reads like a dramatization at times. This can feel slightly sensational, depending on your personal preferences. Hajari argues that fear of Indian aggression has lead Pakistan towards authoritarian regimes and covert support of terrorism, and an easing of tensions is needed to avoid future conflicts.

    Feb 21, Raynald Provost rated it really liked it. Jul 20, Ka Lo rated it it was amazing. Very very interesting history of Indian sub-continent. Dec 30, J. For an overview of South Asian history since the inanity of Partition, this might be your best bet. Keay reins it in a little from his excellent, but wackily hypertopical history of China, and focuses on the salient idiocies and surprising achievements of South Asia.

    Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. NOOK Book. Dispersed across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, Midnight's Descendants-the generations born since the "midnight hour partition" of British India-are the world's fastest growing population. This vast region and its peoples wield an enormous influence over global economics and geopolitics, yet their impact is too often simplified by accounts that focus solely on one nation and ignore the intricate web of affiliations that shape relations among British India's successor states.

    Midnight’s Descendants: South Asia from Partition to the Present Day by John Keay

    Now, in Midnight Descendants , celebrated historian John Keay presents the first comprehensive history of this complex and interconnected region, delving deep into the events that have shaped its past and continue to guide its future. The partition was devastating to the larger of the newly created states, and it continues to haunt them to this day. Joined by their common origin and the fear of further partition, the five key nations of South Asia have progressed in tandem to a large degree.

    These countries have been forced to grapple with common challenges, from undeveloped economies and fractured societies to foreign interventions and the fraught legacy of imperialism, leaving them irrevocably intertwined.

    Book review: ‘Midnight’s Descendants: A History of South Asia Since Partition,’ by John Keay

    Combining authoritative historical analysis with vivid reportage, Keay masterfully charts South Asia's winding path toward modernization and democratization over the past sixty years. Along the way, he unravels the volatile India-Pakistan relationship; the rise of religious fundamentalism; the wars that raged in Kashmir and Sri Lanka; and the fortunes of millions of South Asia migrants dispersed throughout the world, creating a full and nuanced understanding of this dynamic region. Expansive and dramatic, Midnight's Descendants is a sweeping narrative of South Asia's recent history, from the aftermath of the partition to the region's present-day efforts to transcend its turbulent past and assume its rightful role in global politics.

    He was formerly a special correspondent for the Economist , and contributes regularly to the Sunday Telegraph, Times Higher Educational Supplement, and the Literary Review.

    See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Usually ships within 6 days. Now, in Midnight Descendants , celebrated historian John Keay presents the first comprehensive history of this complex and interconnected region, delving deep into the events that have shaped its past and continue to guide its future. The partition was devastating to the larger of the newly created states, and it continues to haunt them to this day. Joined by their common origin and the fear of further partition, the five key nations of South Asia have progressed in tandem to a large degree.

    These countries have been forced to grapple with common challenges, from undeveloped economies and fractured societies to foreign interventions and the fraught legacy of imperialism, leaving them irrevocably intertwined. Combining authoritative historical analysis with vivid reportage, Keay masterfully charts South Asia's winding path toward modernization and democratization over the past sixty years.