28 July, 2021

Before The Fall, A Giant

Brilliant pundit and polemicist of genius, the man Nehru relied on most was also a master manipulator with a talent for antagonising others. The arrogant, riddlesome Krishna Menon’s life gets the full treatment by Jairam Ramesh.

Before The Fall, A Giant

In the Indian public consciousness, it is difficult to divorce V.K. Krishna Menon, then defence minister, from the dark days of 1962, when the Indian Army suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). But, as this biography brings out, he was much more—an agitator, pamphleteer, propagandist, editor and lawyer who single- handedly raised the flag of India’s freedom in London in the years 1924-1947.

Krishna Menon may not have faced jail like his contemporaries, but living and agitating for Indian Independence in a foreign land without a regular income was not easy. In that sense, the book brings out the fascinating world of the freedom struggle from the angle of an agitator living and working in the capital of the metropolitan colonial power.

The big watershed in Krishna Menon’s life was 1936, when he became close to Jawaharlal Nehru. He began as his publishing agent. But slowly, he became his man in London, liaising India’s freedom struggle with a cross-section of the British intellectual...

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