With India celebrating 73 years of independence this 15th of August, here is a list of some books you can dive into & unleash your inner patriot while gaining more knowledge about our nation’s struggle towards Independence:
1. A Bend in the Ganges, Manohar Malgonkar
This (1964) novel is written by the Indian author Manohar Malgonkar is a documentation of the events that led to the independence of India from the British Raj and eventually to the partition of India. Opening with the civil disobedience movement of the early 1930s, the novel ends with the events both preceding & succeeding the partition riots in Punjab. It includes vivid descriptions from the Swadeshi movement, activities of several freedom fighters, the outbreak of the Second World War, the British retreat from Rangoon, the Bombay dock explosion, and the events that occurred during the division of India in 1947, including the partition riots in Punjab. Like the title suggests, A Bend in the Ganges beautifully describes the unforgettable socio-political unrest and violence amidst the masses during our nation’s independence and partition, that changed the lives of everyone forever.
2. The Great Indian Novel, Shashi Tharoor
Probably one of the most famous works of Tharoor, The Great Indian Novel, a satire, was published in 1989 and is a retelling of the Indian mythological epic, Mahabharata, in the context of Indian history of independence and few years of post-independence(1980). According to a source, ‘The Mahabharata, which is not a novel but an epic poem, can be understood, according to Tharoor, to represent Hinduism’s greatest literary achievement and thus serves as an appropriate paradigm in which to frame a retelling of recent Indian history.’ Through a feud between the brothers & the battle between Kauravas and the Pandavas, Tharoor paints a picture of India’s struggle towards Independence, highlighting its rich history, using several unique metaphors based on the Hindu scriptures.
3. Freedom at Midnight, Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
Focusing on the Indian independence movement during 1946 and 1948, the novel gives incredible details regarding Indian history. It gives a detailed account of the last year of the British Raj, the partition of British India, and the events relating to the bloodshed that followed. The book is based on the author’s research on Lord Mountbatten’s work, and also includes interviews with Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of British India. Also covered in detail are the events leading to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, as well as the life and motives of British-educated Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This well researched book is a must read for anyone who is looking for some knowledge regarding India’s history.
4. The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, William Dalrymple
This book traces the history of India from the very beginning, ever since the first war against the British broke out(known popularly as the Sepoy Mutiny), marking the end of the Mughal rule & era, in 1857. The novel won a lot of praise for its use of “The Mutiny Papers”, that included previously ignored Indian accounts of the events that took place in 1857. The author worked on these documents in association with the Urdu scholar Mahmood Farooqui, listing the manners in which all these historical events unfolded and the impact these events had on the country – both politically and culturally.
5. Anandamath, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay
This must-read is famous for being one of the most popular & controversial books of its time. It has inspired several people back then & it continues to inspire several young minds even now. It is a gem amongst many other early pieces of literature, that have fuelled the fire of imagination of the nationalists, and has become a sacred treatise of freedom struggle. Set against the backdrop of the Sannyasi Rebellion in the 18th century, one of the the most important novels of both Indian and Bengali Literature. It was banned by the British government but the ban lifted post Independence. The novel covers every aspect of India, through the mind of a critically acclaimed writer who has stirred patriotism & instilled sentiments of national pride within the citizens.