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Midnight's Descendants: A History of South Asia Since Partitionby John Keay
Synopses & Reviews
Dispersed across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, Midnights Descendants—the generations born since the 1947 midnight hour partition” of British India—are the worlds fastest growing population. This vast region and its peoples wield an enormous influence over global economics and geopolitics, yet their impact is too often simplified by accounts that focus solely on one nation and ignore the intricate web of affiliations that shape relations among British Indias successor states. Now, in Midnight Descendants, celebrated historian John Keay presents the first comprehensive history of this complex and interconnected region, delving deep into the events that have shaped its past and continue to guide its future.
The 1947 partition was devastating to the larger of the newly created states, and it continues to haunt them to this day. Joined by their common origin and the fear of further partition, the five key nations of South Asia have progressed in tandem to a large degree. These countries have been forced to grapple with common challenges, from undeveloped economies and fractured societies to foreign interventions and the fraught legacy of imperialism, leaving them irrevocably intertwined. Combining authoritative historical analysis with vivid reportage, Keay masterfully charts South Asias winding path toward modernization and democratization over the past sixty years. Along the way, he unravels the volatile India-Pakistan relationship; the rise of religious fundamentalism; the wars that raged in Kashmir and Sri Lanka; and the fortunes of millions of South Asia migrants dispersed throughout the world, creating a full and nuanced understanding of this dynamic region.
Expansive and dramatic, Midnights Descendants is a sweeping narrative of South Asias recent history, from the aftermath of the 1947 partition to the regions present-day efforts to transcend its turbulent past and assume its rightful role in global politics.
"South Asia specialist Keay (India: A History) tackles a subject too often swept under the rug in the interest of fashioning coherent national narratives. The partition of India and Pakistan, haphazardly implemented in a matter of weeks with no contingency planning and little thought of the future, deeply scarred the region in ways that few political actors, even today, are willing to admit. The amount of human suffering the event caused was almost unprecedented outside of wartime. 'War,' Keay writes, 'even civil war, might have been more manageable than the internecine strife that engulfed large parts of both India and Pakistan.' In engaging if occasionally cloying prose, he sketches the conflicting paths traveled by these two nations since their tumultuous birth. One recurring theme is the insufficiency of territorial sovereignty to provide order in so complicated a region; in the borderlands, it is often difficult for a visitor to discern whether a particular village belongs to Pakistan, India, or Bangladesh, and cross-border ties are often stronger and more meaningful than those connecting disparate areas of the same country. Lines on a map came to shape the destiny of entire populations, as 'reas, not individuals, became the currency of Partition, districts rather than households the unit of exchange.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Dispersed across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, Midnights Descendants—the generations born since the 1947 midnight hour partition” of British India—are the worlds fastest growing population. In Midnights Descendants, celebrated historian John Keay presents the first general history of this enormous region and its peoples. Focusing on the complex web of affiliations among all five of British Indias successor states, Keay charts South Asias fraught path toward modernization and democratization over the past sixty years. Along the way, he unravels the volatile India-Pakistan relationship; the rise of religious fundamentalism; the wars that raged in Kashmir and Sri Lanka; and the fortunes of millions of South Asia migrants dispersed throughout the world.
An expansive and dramatic narrative of South Asias recent history, Midnights Descendants leads readers from the aftermath of the 1947 partition to the regions present-day efforts to transcend its turbulent past and assume its rightful role in global politics.
About the Author
John Keay is the author of several acclaimed books, including China: A History, The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named, and the bestselling India: A History. He was formerly a special correspondent for the Economist, and contributes regularly to the Sunday Telegraph, Times Higher Educational Supplement, and the Literary Review.
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