Read The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to Ad 1300 by Romila Thapar Online


This title represents a complete rewriting by Romila Thapar of her classic work, A History of India (the first volume in the Penguin History of India series), thirty-five years after it was first published. Thapar has incorporated the vast changes in scholarly understanding and interpretation of Indian history that have occurred during her lifetime to revise the book for aThis title represents a complete rewriting by Romila Thapar of her classic work, A History of India (the first volume in the Penguin History of India series), thirty-five years after it was first published. Thapar has incorporated the vast changes in scholarly understanding and interpretation of Indian history that have occurred during her lifetime to revise the book for a new generation of readers. This new work brings to life thousands of years of history, tracing India's evolution before contact with modern Europe was established: its prehistoric beginnings; the great cities of the Indus civilization; the emergence of mighty dynasties such as the Mauryas, Guptas, and Cholas; the teachings of the Buddha; the creation of heroic epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana; and the creation of regional cultures. Thapar introduces figures from the remarkable visionary ruler Ashoka to other less exemplary figures. In exploring subjects as diverse as marriage, class, art, erotica, and astronomy, Thapar provides an incomparably vivid and nuanced picture of India. Above all, she shows the rich mosaic of diverse kingdoms, landscapes, languages, and beliefs....

Title : The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to Ad 1300
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ISBN : 9780140288261
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 592 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to Ad 1300 Reviews

  • John
    2019-02-12 07:23

    I enjoy reading history, and am just becoming interested in the history of India and central Asia. I figured a Penguin book on the topic would be just what I needed. That was not the case. I was looking for a book which told me stories about Indian history, instead I got a soulless Marxist manifesto. This year I've read two great history books - "The Fall of the Roman Empire" by Peter Heather, and "Consuming Passions" by Judith Flanders. Both were great books which entertained me and left me with a sense of having learnt something. Not so with Romila Thapar's book - I feel like I've learned a lot about Romila Thapar, but very little about history. I may have some feeling of the great ideological battle raging to define India, but I didn't want to read a book about politics. Sadly, I feel that Thapar cannot write otherwise.Let me fill you in on some of the conflicts I sense. Everybody knows that India has Hindu and Muslim inhabitants. If you've seen "Gandhi" you'll know there were terrible massacres perpetrated after partition in 1948. The historical question is: have Hindu and Muslim always been enemies, or have they lived together peacefully? Your answer to that question will influence your position on the war in Kashmir, Pakistan's role within the world, and hence your opinion on what to do about Afghanistan.Everybody knows India has a caste system. The highest caste is the brahmins, the priests; then kshatriya, the warriors; then vaishya and shudra. Brahmins have traditionally been well-educated - these days it is family tradition - so brahmins are more often professionals from wealthy families. In modern India there are quotas for non-brahmins at universities because the brahmins tend to oversupply students. This means that there is effectively anti-brahmin discrimination, resulting in a brahmin diaspora as budding professionals travel overseas for education. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your historical perspective - did brahmins achieve their advantageous position by generations of hard work, or did they achieve it by preferential treatment by the kings (who were mostly kshatriya)?Thapar takes the opportunity to mention that "brahmans" as she spells it counter to convention, were the recipients of land grants from the rulers. Brahmins then became administrators of the land, employing the lower castes to do the labour. She then casts brahmins as a "ruling elite". Strangely she doesn't use this description of the kshatriyas. Sadly, her evidence for this judgement is so vague that I can't say whether she has a point or not.Speaking of vague, this book is infuriatingly so. For example, discussing the status of women when social groups moved from clans (family groups) to jatis (subcastes) she says:Kinship patterns and gender relations would have differed between the major groups of castes and between regional practices. It is likely that in the initial stages of conversion jati status, some customary practices from the previous status were retained.What I want to know is, is she telling me something, or is she guessing? Is there any evidence at all for this statement? And if there is, what the hell does it mean anyway? If you ask me where to catch the bus, do I say "it is likely that the bus will continue to arrive in the traditional location, and it would possibly do so at approximately the same time as it has previously." The book is full of this sort of meaningless, vague waffle.Admittedly, as the subject is Indian history from prehistoric times until 1300AD, it's likely that the concrete knowledge available if detailed. However that's no excuse for publishing 489 pages of guesses. Unless you're interested in the political issues in Indian historiography, this is one to stay well away from.

  • Vikas Lather
    2019-02-05 05:28

    To describe Romila Thapar, I would like to employ (with slight variation) an unknown quote by a famous journalist for Indira Gandhi, "She is the only MAN among the Indian intellectuals" Early India is one of the best books I have read this year. Romila Thapar is among handful of Indian intellectuals who have the courage to stand up against the cultural rape of our history. She is not famous among Hindutava circle because her work stands between their ambition to distort the past and depress the present with religious flavor. In future, when there will be a debate with misogynistic men about the self-evident fact that female writers can not only produce first-rate fictional and emotional writings but also illuminate serious historical writings by their multidisciplinary approach. Great and brave work produced by Hannah Arendt, Rosa Luxemburg, Arundhati Roy and Romila Thapar will effortlessly champion the cause.

  • kaśyap
    2019-02-05 11:28

    This is an erudite and impressive work. A social, economic, cultural and religious history of India from the origins to 1300 CE. Romila Thapar is a very well-known historian in India and her texts are widely used in universities here. She is also infamous in the Hindutva circles because of her Marxist credentials, but that’s only a political opposition rather than any academic criticism. She gives only a brief overview of pre-history and starts with the first urbanisation in the Indus valley civilisation. She draws from the sources of archaeology and material culture, linguistics, and itihasa and purana literature. She makes many bold and new interpretations from the evidences drawn from these sources. Throws some new light on the formation of the caste society in India and the evolution and dynamics of the political-economy in both south and north India. This is also a very good history of Arts, literature and Sciences during this period.My favourite part of this book is the earlier chapter on historiography. She introduces a lot of interesting ideas here regarding how history has been viewed. She does a good job of clearing a lot of misconceptions that are prevalent about Indian history. One common thread throughout the book seems to be that we can never have any definitive conclusions about history considering how all the historical writings are coloured by the perceptions of the one writing the history.Romila Thapar here completely moves away from the romanticism that is usually associated with most of the histories of India making this a very dry read. So there is less focus on the politics of the ruling classes and more on the socio-economic trends.Considering the number of bold and important statements that she makes, the one problem is the complete lack of references in the book. But I guess that is compensated by the extensive bibliography that is provided at the end that is categorised by the different approaches to writing history.I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in the early history of India. Gives a very good overview of the history of this period, along with a useful bibliography if you want to go deeper in the study of Indian history.

  • Himanshu Bhatnagar
    2019-01-31 10:42

    Penguin claims this book "brings Indian History to life". I would posit that this book and its author kill Indian history, dismember the corpse, burn the remains and plod mechanically through the ashes.Now that I've vent my spleen, so to speak, let's vent a little more. :)This isn't a book meant for the lay reader or the history buff. If anyone, it is suited for First Year students of BA (History). You lucky guys can just copy-paste paragraphs from the book right into your answer sheets. :DTo call this book academic would be an understatement; to call it "not interesting" would be an even bigger one. The author consistently fails to grip the reader's imagination. Nor does she seem interested in gripping his intellect. The book is a series of such a dry, boring iteration of facts (as interpreted by the author)that it seems that Ms. Thapar has simply transcribed her lecture notes and made a book out of them.With such a vast tapestry of civilization and culture (in both time and space; one of her favourite phrases) the author fails to capture a single colour, shade or hue, a single thread to weave a riveting narrative with. The author drones on, page after page, enumerating facts (some often repeated throughout the book) and giving her view on how certain events may be interpreted. Which brings me to my next point.The author's leftist leanings shine through whenever she pauses to give her personal interpretation of any event. Turk and Persian invaders destroyed many Hindu temples? Well, some Hindu ruler destroyed a temple here or there, so it's all the same! Chinese scholars visiting INdia were all praise for the country? Well, they were just trying to build up the image of the land where Buddha was born. In fact, anyone wrote anything in praise of monarchic India? They were surely exaggerating!But even her leftist viewpoints would have been more palatable or at least forgivable if Ms. Thapar had the writing talents to present her (sometimes unsubstantiated and often poorly supported) theories in a more vibrant and engaging manner.Unfortunately, there is an utter lack of wit, humor, wonder, passion, warmth.......the author consistently refuses to be drawn into the history she attempts to narrate. While being dispassionate in writing on such a subject is not, in itself, an undesirable quality in an author, Ms. Thapar should realize that there is a lot of difference between being dispassionate and being uninteresting or even worse, disinterested,The book reinforces my belief that Indian authors of non-fiction should be made to read Sagan, Shubin, even someone as polemic as Dawkins to get some idea on how to present their subject matter in a readable, engaging format.For me, I'm pretty sure this is the first and last Romila Thapar book I'll buy.P.S. All the diagrams (and they're precious few) are unlabelled. Have fun deciphering them!

  • Hamza
    2019-01-29 03:38

    This one took me much longer than I expected, but there is a lot of dense information packed into this small volume. I won't pretend I memorized everything in the book, since it packs a period of over 2000 years into less than 400 pages. That said, it entertained me for the most part, and informed me a great deal about Indian societies of the past. My one minor beef is Ms. Thapar's claim that Sufism came from Shi'i Islam against Sunni orthodoxy. Say what? Unlike her detractors, however, I can forgive a small error instead of claiming the entire book is thus false. Hindutva-lovers won't enjoy this book, but I sure did. I can't wait to eventually read the rewrite she did 30+ years later.

  • Shanthanu
    2019-01-29 05:21

    The first half of the book is quite interesting where Thapar talks about historiography and how biases and agendas of diverse groups affect their periodization and narrative of history, and the book begins quite promisingly with a the description of the social milieu. However, in the later chapters, especially after the Gupta empire or so the book becomes too unfocussed and difficult to follow when it ends up as a listing of too many facts without any sort of clear thread of events. Sure, history is sometimes like that and forcing an ideological narrative is not something I want, but it should be possible to have a somewhat loose narrative thread of sorts to make it easier to make sense of what's going on. Another really annoying thing was the lack of any diacritics in the transcription scheme for Prakrit/Sanskrit terms which confuses long/short vowels, and some consonants.Overall, the first few chapters are a fairly good introduction to early India, but it gets too disorganised to follow soon after.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-02-08 04:43

    dedication:For Sergei: in memoriam and remembering Kaushalya and Daya Ram and our many years together.Opening: The modern writing of Indian history began with colonial perceptions of the Indian past that were to be seminal to its subsequent interpretations. It took shape with the beginnings of colonial rule in various parts of the subcontinent from the eighteenth century onwards.To check up:twelfth-century history of Kashmir, the Rajatarangini, written by Kalhana.Max WeberNot an engaging text yet worth keeping for that magnificent timeline

  • Bryan
    2019-02-08 04:34

    This book may have all the information one might require for a general survey of India before the coming of the Mughals and the Portuguese, but the style is listless and documentary. Better, I suppose, than sensationalistic, but it was still difficult for me to shoulder on through it. Part of the problem I admit was my own lack of knowledge about Indian geography and political divisions. The author frequently referred to geographic areas of India which I couldn't place in my head (the maps were few and far between and not as good an aide as they could have been), and without that grounding, I felt like I was reading a lot of disconnected material which didn't relate to what came before or after. Another problem is the nature of Indian history itself, which doesn't really follow an easy narrative. At any given point in time, the subcontinent may have had several areas in ascendancy and in decline, some which interacted with one another and others that were in more or less a constant state of warfare. My frame of reference is European history, which is also fragmented, but still is more unified than Indian history, at least as far as I could tell from this survey. On the other hand, I was exposed to a tremendous amount of information about which I had no idea. I don't know how much I'll retain, but again, that's more my problem than anyone else's.

  • Abby Varghese
    2019-02-16 06:32

    Review originally posted in Abby's Shelf: of Early India: From the origins to AD 1300 by Romila Thapar is probably the most authoritative book I have read on this topic. But even when I say this do keep in mind to never mistake this book as a light read, this is a very intense information packed book which may even break the most avid fan of History. I actually slept off few nights reading this book. Now while reviewing this book I faced a challenge that forced me to take a different approach in reviewing this book. I shall be reviewing this text from two perspectives, both as a light reader and as a history graduate’s wholesome book for better understanding of this book and it’s targeted audience.For a reader who just wants to explore the early history of India and its relations with contemporary for non-academic purposes or for a light reader who need not mug up so much details the first few chapters may seem very interesting especially because of the limited data, language, interpretation etc. but as this reader continues he/she may notice that this lively book later tends to lag and dry up causing them to stop halfway. Such a reader may not agree with the blurb that say “brings to life thousands of years of India’s precolonial history” but feels the author instead kills and bury it. When I used the word “wholesome” before I wasn’t meaning the author Romila Thapar just covered all major topics related with the subject, what I actually meant is that the author puts down all the information one can possibly find to this date and leads to all possible interpretation one can think of. Most of the information provided in the book are way too detailed that you often forget those intrinsic details by the time you finish it. But for someone who need to critically study the history of early India this book can be considered as a bible with all data’s and references you will ever need to write a research paper which makes their work much easier. The major amendment in this book when compared to its previous edition is the chronological timeline which is limited to AD 1300 instead of the traditional AD 1526 which failed to cover the significant period from AD 1300 to AD1800 proportionately. This edition also includes some new data leading to leading to fresh interpretation while not completely ignoring the old arguments which the author consider relevant to this date. Even when I say this, a post graduate student may consider these details a necessity for their academics and the author is kind enough for quoting data/ content from various historical documents which makes their research work much easier. The author throws light and critically analyse these intricate details which many books I have read lacked, she also guides us to conclusions which again was never put forward in other books on the same subject. These factors make this book stand apart from other books in this genre. Overall, an information packed book which will even suffice the needs of a research scholar but also tries hard to keep it interesting enough even for a light reader which is something remarkable when other books fails to balance making this book the most authoritative book on this subject. Highly recommended for research scholars.

  • Bijo Philip
    2019-01-30 05:37

    Well its Romila Thaper... informative and based on research but definitely it is not a tale. Not inspiring and difficult to complete...

  • R Krishna
    2019-01-29 08:40

    As insightful as Ms. Romila Thapar gets, gives a holistic view on the evolution of the Ancient Indian society along with factors which primarily impacted political formation of kingdoms. Must read for a history enthusiast even if he/she's gone through the NCERT book written by Ms. Romila Thapar.

  • Krishna
    2019-02-01 08:31

    A comprehensive but very concise review of 3000 years of Indian history (up to 1300 AD). In a little over 300 pages, Prof. Thapar provides a tour of the arrival of the Aryans in India, Alexander's raid, the Mauryan empire and the interregnum that followed its collapse, the classical age of the Guptas, the southern Indian empires, the early Sultanate period, up to the demise of Vijayanagar. The story ends with the Mughals entering India from the north, even as European explorers find their way to the southwestern coast. With so much to cover, it is no wonder that Thapar has little space to devote to specific events and individuals. The Indus Valley Culture gets maybe a page, Harsha maybe two or three. Names of kings and dynasties appear in profusion, which can be bewildering for a reader for whom this is the first introduction to Indian history -- but that is not the fault of the author, because India's history is long and complex. But Prof. Thapar, often called a Marxist historian, devotes equal space to the lived experiences of the common people. So this book is not just a litany of the names of kings and queens (only a few of the latter), but every other chapter is an account of how ordinary people made a living, worshiped, ate and drank, and housed and clothed themselves. This brings the past alive for the reader.Despite my above-average knowledge of Indian history, this book still provided some surprising insights. I will mention only a few: first, Prof. Thapar explains that Buddhism died out in India because it became too successful. Initially, Buddhist monasteries were located in cities so that monks, who had taken vows of poverty, could live off donations of food from the devout. But once Buddhism became firmly established, rich merchants gave lavish endowments to the monasteries, freeing them of the need to live close to people. The monasteries moved to spacious rural locations far from the laity, and eventually ceased to be a part of the daily life of the people.Another surprise. Why are there so few truly ancient temples in a land whose history goes back 5000 years -- most existing temples are less than a 1000 years old. This is in contrast to every other ancient civilization, in whose ruins places of worship are over-represented. One explanation is that older Indian temples were built of wood and brick and collapsed long ago. But Prof. Thapar argues that temple-building (and idol worship) began only with the turn of Hindu religion to personal devotion (bhakti) during the Gupta period and after -- prior to that, Hinduism was a sacrificial religion dominated by Vedic ritual. Thus, the oldest existing temples all date to the post-Gupta period, especially to the competitive temple building in the 800-1200 period, when dynasties used religious endowments to burnish their ruling credentials. Overall, this is a very readable, concise -- and for its size, comprehensive -- review of Indian history.

  • Alex
    2019-02-11 04:38

    I wanted to flesh out my understanding of early Indian history, especially in the realms of politics, economics, art, and regional differences. I also wanted an accessible "master narrative" from a premier social historian. The narrative is there from time to time, but this book is mostly details. On the plus side, names and dates of dynasties and wars, descriptions of terms of art found in each period's texts, and a brief fleshing out of technological and religious advances. On the minus, sometimes frustratingly vague generalities about polity, production, caste, and gender. Sometimes there are invaders; sometimes kingdoms are small; sometimes urbanism happens; surplus is always extracted; tribes become incorporated as castes; casteism is enforced to varying degrees; life is even harder for women, slaves, and serfs. I guess you work with what you've got to work with - triangulations of the evidence constructed from whatever elite texts or monuments have stood the test of time and text-destroying climates, and whatever can be dug up at dig sites. Sometimes it's really hard to say anything about anything.For that reason, the book actually got more interesting when it got moralistic, because you can see Thapar getting just angry enough to stop merely reciting facts. It fights the good fight, BJP fundamentalism-wise, I suppose. Scriptures aren't history. Kings and brahmins were often cruel. The history of Islam in India is complicated.The book is broken down into historical periods; there are some cool times when Thapar steps back to analyze and think reflexively about what historians do when they periodize or import terms from European history to imperfectly describe analogous terms in Indian history. Each chapter is broken down in essentially the same way - subsections on politics, political economy, caste lineage and gender, trade and/or urbanism, literature, art, religion. So it's really easy to isolate a section on, say, Gupta pd trade routes, for instance. Here's the key: Chiefdoms and Lineages -> Kingdoms -> Empire(s) -> Kingdoms -> smaller Kingdoms, or maybe FeudalismThe maps are really useful too. Overall, the book is a pretty good resource for a specialist, just to get the names and dates and places of your rajas, cakravartins, and texts, and I'd imagine very frustrating for anyone else.

  • Arpita
    2019-02-12 09:24

    I would never recommend this book or any book written by Romila Thapar to any one (except you are preparing for UPSC exams). Utterly disgusted by this leftist history telling, felt as if Indian history narrated by some India hater. Be it Ram Guha or Romila Thapar they mastered the art of demeaning India's past, fabricating theories and applying western sense of righteousness in their history telling. For a 555 page History book, evidences/facts are seldom referred, on the contrary the entire book is written based on assumptions of 'Sigmund Freud' style of thought by the writer of what she thinks or imagines would have been India's history. To read 555 pages of assumptions is too much for me to read. I have no clue why this writer is so popular? She feeds you with fabricated stories, conspiracy theories of her weird imaginations but definitely not History of India.I am giving 1 star to the publisher for publishing a 555 pages book on 'Fictional History of India'.

  • Aswin
    2019-01-28 08:25

    First with due respect to the author, she has provided a detailed history of India, not a simple task and i greatly acknowledge her immense wisdom. As a south indian, i found the chapters on Chola dynasty to be wanting ( more could have been written). Also, i felt the author belittles hindu mythology and puranas. In my Humble Opinion, Overall, it is a history of India of a left leaning author.

  • Jackson Cyril
    2019-01-31 05:44

    This caught my eye because it carried a gushing recommendation on the back from Eric Hobsbawm, a historian not usually given to such feelings. But here the recommendation was well earned; here is an erudite, well balanced and thorough history of India free of nationalist bias which isn't easy to do, especially considering the current political climate in the country.

  • P. Ritwik
    2019-02-13 09:28

    Her presentation of history is accurate and detailed. She puts forth the reason for what happened and deduces on the effect of all parameters that make history. Its not just a compendium of facts but helps one think and make one's own deductions of those facts. Good Read

  • Vijay Bharwad
    2019-02-15 06:31


    2019-01-26 07:26

    A very concise and crisp description of ancient and early medieval India. Romila Thapar is a very talented writer and historian who manages to hook you from the very first line. Besides the factual details, there is also an active engagement with primary sources through which the author offers her viewpoints and conclusions with clarity and reason. She also artfully critiques the political manipulation of certain historical narratives from this period and instead posits for a more a nuanced and balanced historical understanding. A must read for any amateur historian interested in Indian history.

  • Moureen
    2019-02-18 03:27

    OOOUUUUUU YAAASSSSSS THIS BOOOKKK HAS THE WHOLE HISTORY OF INDIA Where it was located?How many counties colonised it?and etcThis book is LIT if you are an indian or anyone and wish to know more about THE HISTORY ABOUT INDIA BUY THIS BOOK OR BORROW IT

  • Vishwanath Saragadam
    2019-02-20 06:40

    To explain the history of such a vast and diverse subcontinent over a large period of 3,000 years, with only the significant details is not mean fete. Yet, Romila Thapar has done a marvelous job. Without digressing to unnecessary details and smoothly weaving a story across the cultural and economic development of the Indian subcontinent, the book is true to its name.Firstly, the things I did not like about the book. There is an uncontrolled bashing of the brahmin cult throughout the book. Invariably, everything done by them is shown in a negative light. I wish this was toned down a bit. A side effect of this was the oppressive nature of Sanskrit as a language, which was perhaps the case, but was accentuated by this book. Second, scarcely presented details about medicine and sciences, which is fundamental to the development of any region/country. Third, an innate assumption that India had to stand as a whole even when the idea of such a state wasn't even existent. Romila Thapar mentions multiple times that the fact that various kingdoms did not coalesce to defend against the Northwestern invaders comes as a surprise. I wonder if each of these kingdoms did not see the others as foreigners itself to a certain extent.Much to talk about the positive aspects of this book. The gradual development of the caste system and its hold on Indian social life till date is explained very well. Slightly disheartening that no foreign invasion could change this framework. Something that I liked was the hold of mercantile communities over the regional politics. Also surprising was the check of a king's power through local village and town heads. To a large extent, this seemed like a primer to a federal type of government. North and South India evolved separately and this has been clearly shown in the book as well. The presence of physical barriers between the two halves of the country through the plateau and rivers only divided the two in terms of development. Intermingling of culture through arts is also well shown.I would say that this book did great justice to the title with some drawbacks.

  • April
    2019-02-15 10:34

    When I asked a friend from India for a good overview of Indian history, she recommended this one. A few years later I have finished it. It's long, academic, and historical. But it is readable. I really appreciated the thoughtful structuring: various historical periods are each examined from the perspective of economics, cultural happenings, and society structure and interaction. While different things are known about different periods, it was nice to know that Ms. Thapar would look at each of the topics. I also found that her time period summaries (the last few paragraphs of each time period section) were succinct. If someone wanted to skim the book, reading the conclusion paragraphs would be a good way to do so. I also appreciated the maps in the back of the book. I have never looked closely at the geography of India and I'm definitely unfamiliar with the historical names of places, so the maps which included specifically (and only) the names of the places discussed in a given section were very helpful.

  • René
    2019-02-01 06:31

    My spouse bought this book while in India, and in the back, we can read "for sale in the Indian Subcontinent and Singapore only". Maybe then this is why this book feels so "foreign" - it is filled with Indian words and concepts that are so different from ours that I failed to grasp the relevance of several paragraphs. Moreover, the author, a leading authority in Indian history, puts out several suggestions for additional research, as if she expected this book to be read mainly by her university students. In the end, way too much on religion and its impact on the growing social segregation in Indian society over this period of time, but not enough material and linkages to put India within this early chapter of the world's history.

  • Adish Aggarwal
    2019-02-05 04:16

    She had written a somewhat leftist (though not strictly Marxist) version of ancient and early medivial Indian History. The review of literary evidence is at times biased. The treatment of Archealogical evidences are not as good as done by Upinder Singh. The language is very complicated and flowery. So much so that in almost every paragraph I had to look for a dictionary. The wotk however is well researched and you feel like sitting in a time machine. She had covered the evolution of religion really well. However details about Harsha and Guptas lack depth. I would not recommend it for non academic reading.

  • Balaji Rathakrishnan
    2019-02-21 10:23

    An in-depth account of the period from pre-history till about 1200AD. A book with more insights than facts. A lot more focus on social conditions than about kings and the wars they waged. Her bias against Vedic Brahmanism is obvious and you have to apply that filter. I like the fact that she covers the sources (archeological, literary) of how we know what we know about history. Half-way done and am at the turn of the 1st millennium AD. Very minimal coverage of South Indian history so far.

  • Maitrey
    2019-02-16 04:31

    It's more of a social history, concentrating in movements of groups of people say into South India, or how guilds might have conducted trade in the "middle ages"; rather than on the exploits of rulers and the battles they fought. The book was a real eye opener for me. Romila Thapar is the most balanced and respected historian in the country presently and has no leanings (Marxist or Communalist).

  • Ben
    2019-02-03 04:38

    Romila Thapar is an excellent writer and almost certainly a fine scholar. And there is plenty of interesting subject matter in this book. But Thapar's assignment here was almost impossible: There is so much information here in such a short book--names, concepts, kingdoms, epochs often fly by with blinding speed--that too many passages are almost indigestible.

  • Tarun Bhargava
    2019-02-19 11:38

    A serious work of History.A must read for everyone who didn't take history seriously in their schooldays(like me :)).Its not embellished with any kind of flowery plots/language and presents the available facts and the possible conclusions.The chapters on formation of Jatis and Indo-Greek Rule in Northwest are the best.

  • Sam Gurvinder
    2019-02-09 11:36

    Romila Thapar is big name in history and she proved she is . Her approach to tell the whole history is best thing . This book is not a book of kings ,dates and wars but covers whole area of religion,cultures , cast , trade and shifts in these areas . The narrative is bit boring and it takes more time than you expect but it's different from others .

  • Venkat Krishna
    2019-02-13 06:29

    This was a refreshing read.. Ms Thapar's work stands for her status in academic world. This work is definitely a very well researched book and it takes you onto a vivid journey of India's historical past. Her writing is subtle,sober and analytic in nature.. One of my favourite chapters was on feudalism which was brilliantly written and explained. I would recommend this to all.