25 February, 2021

History Is One Blind Turn From Mohenjo Daro

Glaring omissions, faulty maps, quirky highlighting and the airbrushing of Islam off early medieval India are some surprises in this much-touted book

Tribhuvan Tiwari
History Is One Blind Turn From Mohenjo Daro
This work, issued by a leading Western publisher of textbooks, marks a landmark of sorts: its release has been accompanied by perhaps the most vigorous PR campaign on behalf of any textbook on history in India. The first two pages of the volume contain laudatory opinions from 17 scholars, ten of which appear on the back cover. Of these ten, as many as eight are from the pens of scholars holding posts in foreign universities. These authoritative experts have deemed the work to be "exciting", a "long-overdue introduction", giving us a history that "all groups of Indian people can identify with" (presumably those, at any rate, who can afford to fork out Rs 3,500), and a book destined to "supersede previous surveys of ancient Indian history".

Publishers need perhaps to be reminded that such a high-pressure campaign could be unfair to their own author. Too much comes to be expected, and a yardstick set which one is not likely to apply to works published in the normal course. The implication in some of the commendatory statements that those who...

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