India by Patrick French

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Synopsis

A monumental biography of the subcontinent from the award-winning author of The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul.

Second only to China in the magnitude of its economic miracle and second to none in its potential to shape the new century, India is fast undergoing one of the most momentous transformations the world has ever seen. In this dazzlingly panoramic book, Patrick French chronicles that epic change, telling human stories to explain a larger national narrative.

Melding on-the-ground reports with a deep knowledge of history, French exposes the cultural foundations of India’s political, economic and social complexities. He reveals how a nation identified with some of the most wretched poverty on earth has simultaneously developed an envied culture of entrepreneurship (here are stories like that of C. K. Ranganathan, who trudged the streets of Cuddalore in the 1980s selling sample packets of shampoo and now employs more than one thousand people). And even more remarkably, French shows how, despite the ancient and persistent traditions of caste, as well as a mind-boggling number of ethnicities and languages, India has nevertheless managed to cohere, evolving into the world’s largest democracy, largely fulfilling Jawaharlal Nehru’s dream of a secular liberal order.

French’s inquiry goes to the heart of all the puzzlements that modern India presents: Is this country actually rich or poor? Why has its Muslim population, the second largest on earth, resisted radicalization to such a considerable extent? Why do so many children of Indians who have succeeded in the West want to return “home,” despite never having lived in India? Will India become a natural ally of the West, a geostrategic counterweight to the illiberal rising powers China and Russia? To find the answers, French seeks out an astonishing range of characters: from Maoist revolutionaries to Mafia dons, from chained quarry laborers to self-made billionaires. And he delves into the personal lives of the political elite, including the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, one of the most powerful women in the world.

With a familiarity and insight few Westerners could approach, Patrick French provides a vital corrective to the many outdated notions about a uniquely dynamic and consequential nation. His India is a thrilling revelation.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Patrick French

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Patrick French was born in England in 1966 and studied literature at Edinburgh University. He is the author of Younghusband; Liberty or Death; Tibet, Tibet; and The World Is What It Is, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hawthornden Prize. French is the winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize, and the Somerset Maugham Award.















Author Residence: London, UK
 
Published June 7, 2011 by Vintage. 418 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for India

Kirkus Reviews

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A rollicking, ambitious journey through Indian history and mores from a keen English journalist and National Book Critics Circle Award winner.

May 27 2011 | Read Full Review of India

The New York Times

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In “India: A Portrait,” a new biography of a sort, Patrick French tries to get his arms around the size and import of this teeming country.

Jun 08 2011 | Read Full Review of India

The Wall Street Journal

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In "India: A Portrait," Mr. French, the author in 1998 of "Liberty or Death," about India's drive for independence from Britain in the 1940s, looks at what the past six decades have wrought.

Jun 25 2011 | Read Full Review of India

New York Journal of Books

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“wonderful and intensively researched . . . a fascinating, thoroughly engaging exploration of India. . . an appealing and inimitable portrait written with a bold, unique, and engaging voice.”

Jun 07 2011 | Read Full Review of India

The Economist

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In an admirable chapter on India's early efforts at central planning, he describes the thinking of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, as a “Keynesian idea of a mixed economy taken to extremes that Keynes would have found fiscally impossible”.

Jan 20 2011 | Read Full Review of India

Los Angeles Times

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The author vividly captures the complexities and contradictions of the world's largest democracy in his latest work of nonfiction.

Jun 12 2011 | Read Full Review of India

Los Angeles Times

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The author vividly captures the complexities and contradictions of the world's largest democracy in his latest work of nonfiction.

Jun 12 2011 | Read Full Review of India

The Telegraph

French devotes a third of his impressive study .

Jan 14 2011 | Read Full Review of India

The Telegraph

Still more a book that is simultaneously 'an .

Jan 30 2011 | Read Full Review of India

Scotsman.com

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Jan 31 2011 | Read Full Review of India

Bookmarks Magazine

Naipaul, The World Is What It Is (4 of 5 Stars Mar/Apr 2009), and a detailed account of India's struggle for independence, Liberty or Death: India's Journey to Independence and Division (1997), for which he won the London Sunday Times Young Author of the Year Award.

Jun 14 2011 | Read Full Review of India

The New York Review of Books

India: A Portrait.

Aug 18 2011 | Read Full Review of India

India Today

Patrick french has written the most readable of the histories to have emerged from the golden jubilee celebrations of Indian Independence.

Aug 25 1997 | Read Full Review of India

India Today

Reminiscences: The French In IndiaIntach And Govt.

Mar 09 1998 | Read Full Review of India

Reader Rating for India
66%

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