Title: If History has taught us anything
Author: Farhat Nasreen
Publisher: Rupa Publications
If History has taught us anything undertakes a journey into the political history of India. India has seen several rulers and each of these rules has impacted and shaped the India of the present. If one ruler goes, another comes in his/her place. But what lesson can one draw from the successions of these rulers? Sifting through the folds of history, this book talks of the lessons that history has taught us.
Besides an Introduction and a conclusion, the book comprises of six chapters each covering a different time span. Although the chapters are dedicated mostly to famous personages, the author’s strategy has been to shed light on those aspects of these personalities that have been less or not talked about. Following the factual history, the author provides a brief commentary towards the end of each chapter.
The first entry in the book takes us to 57 BCE in the reign of the king Vikramjeet after whom the Vikram Samvat calendar is named. The author presents an account of the king and his two brothers and the human qualities that each of them stood for. The next chapters shifts the time period to 11th century and the following chapters move chronologically till the beginning of 17th century.
The rule of Sultan Mahmud, the Sultanate, the Mughals (particularly Humayun and Akbar) and the interim rule of Sher Shah Suri constitue the contents of this book. Through a chronicle of the political rule, the author has presented the human or rather the apolitical side of these figures. And it is after making this long journey into the past that the reader reaches the present age about which some famous historians’ views have been recorded in the concluding entry.
From the title, the blurb and even the Introduction, this book seems to be an ambitious project. But it did not meet my expectations. In the final analysis it remains a political history trying to capture something very large in a small space. I liked it for what it is but I was expecting more from it. I also found the writing to be a bit obtuse which obstructed my flow of reading at several points.
The chapter recording the rule of the Dilli Sultanate is a rather long one. I found it really difficult to make my way through it. There a lot of names and the author has mentioned them with a familiarity that the reader lacks. So at times it was difficult to get hold of the facts, let alone the lessons that were to be drawn from them. All in all, it was an okayish read for me.
My Rating: *** (3/5)
What do you thunk about this book? Would you rather read a historical fiction or non-fiction on history? Do share your views. Thanks.
*I was kindly senmt a copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed are entirely personal and unbiased.*