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The Great Partition: The making of India and Pakistan

With no real guidance on where to start reading about Partition, I chose Yasmin Khan’s The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan.  Khan starts right off in 1946, with nods back to the end of WWII in 1945 and the connections amongst the end of the war, Britain’s failing power and the unrest in India.  The book is ordered chronologically, although the ten main chapters cover four years, so there’s not an immediate sense of temporal progress as you read.  That’s OK.  Khan is not trying to speed through anything.

The main things I learned from this book are that Britain was leaving and not concerned too much about what happened after they left,  the Congress and League leaders didn’t agree on the definition of Pakistan in any sense, no one knew what to do with Partition once they “received” it, and the people of India (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh now) suffered greatly and are still suffering due to bad planning (I can’t think of the appropriately strong phrase for this type of bad planning) and religion.

I would recommend this book to someone wanting an introduction to Partition (if that someone wanted a recommendation from a guy who has only read one book on the subject).  That said, I get the idea that if I read a bunch of books on Partition, this one would then appear as a particular type of Partition book.  One trying to emphasize the haphazard execution of Partition, the tragedy involved for all the peoples and the background for today’s problems in amongst the involved countries.  I don’t plan on reading another text on Partition right now.  This one answered my questions and gave me plenty of historical data regarding the actions of Britain, the Congress, the League and the people of Mother India.

For my friends “in country,” do please feel free to send me other reading recommendations.  I’m going to scan back to the west a few degrees now, but I’m always particularly curious about the motivations of the Pakistani people and their leaders.


1 comment to The Great Partition: The making of India and Pakistan

  • John,
    I have had a lot of Indians in my audiences over the years. Less Pakistani’s.
    I have had some interesting discussions over partition and let’s say I don’t know if they we’re damned by doing it or not. Good intentions…
    You read a wonky book. I wonder how many copies he sold. Probably a labor of love.
    Keep the reviews coming. You’re like the NPR interviews I listen to. It makes it easier to make that rare choice of book to read.
    Dana Law
    San Diego, Ca
    Read minds yesterday and made a women cry during psychometry. Always a dramatic and compelling result as long as I haven’t hurt her but only brought up an emotional memory that moved her and gave the impression to the audience I know what I am doing.
    I opened the show with “I’m David Winston and I’m here to make you think.” Always tweaking the verbiage. Any notes?

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