From the tantalising traces of ancient Harappan civilisation to today’s emerging superpower, here is India’s story, expertly condensed and brimming with colour.
John Zubrzycki transforms five millennia of gods and kings, conquerors and colonisers into an epic tale, teeming with personalities both legendary and largely unknown outside India. Gautama Buddha, Alexander the Great and Gandhi share the stage with Nizam Saqqa, the slave made king for a day, and Raziyya, the first Muslim woman to rule the subcontinent.
The later chapters reveal a modern India riven by contrasts: the brutal reality of partition and the fantasies of Bollywood, the call centres and the expanding slums. Five thousand years of history are no guarantee of the future, and as he concludes his story, Zubrzycki asks whether internal challenges – from religious tensions to an increasingly undemocratic government – could thwart India’s rise to dominance.
A former diplomat and foreign correspondent, JOHN ZUBRZYCKI is the author of several books about India, most recently House of Jaipur: The Inside Story of India’s Most Glamorous Royal Family.