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An American Witness To India's Partition

An American Witness To India's Partition

First Edition

September 2007 | 448 pages | SAGE India
In 1938 the New York-based Institute of Current World Affairs awarded 23-year-old Phillips Talbot a fellowship with a mandate: visit South Asia and learn about the intricacies of life in India. Till 1950, Talbot graphically recounted the buildup to Indian and Pakistani independence, and the early experiences of the new states in the form of several letters to the institute.

Talbot`s reports from the field, presented here in the original, offer a kaleidoscope of first-hand observations: on student life at the Aligarh Muslim University, local life in a small Muslim community in Kashmir, a Vedic ashram in Lahore, Tagore`s Shantiniketan, Gandhi’s Sevagram, crucial sessions of the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League, the Kodaikanal Ashram Fellowship, Hindu and Muslim urban communities in Lahore and Bombay, Afghanistan, a walk with Gandhi in Noakhali, the parties` negotiations with Mountbatten that led to independence and more.

Written with flair and insight, An American Witness to India`s Partition, provides a perceptive view of South Asian society in its decisive decade.
Foreword by B R Nanda
India In London
My Introduction to India and its Politics
Kashmir and Lahore
Tour of Afghanistan, Novemeber 12-26, 1940
Gandhi's Ashram; and on to War Service
India after the War
Indian Ashrams, 1947
Asian Relations Conference and Beyond
Finally, the Arrival of Independence
Two Years after Independence

Talbot’s book is largely a collection of enlightening, serious, and highly entertaining letters he wrote between 1938 and 1950 from India….The value of Talbot’s book is enhanced by the afterword, written sixty years after the independence and partition of British India…This book is worth reading, partly because Talbot’s professionalism is evident on every page, partly because his insights inform readers about how and why the India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh of 2008 are different from the British India of 1938.

The International History Review

This volume is a compilation of letters he sent back to the Institute of Current World Affairs. Put in context by historian B R Nanda, they unfold the events as they happened…Especially valuable are reports of long stretches spent in the company of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel or Jinnah-besides his more or less sociological observations in these transformational times, including a stint in Santiniketan.

The Indian Express

An American Witness to India`s Partition is a book to be read with feelings of both regret and pleasure as India celebrates her sixtieth year of Independence. Regret for a different path that might have been taken, pleasure that things have turned out so well after the dark days of 1947.

Ainslie T Embree
Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University

Written with extraordinary verve and insight, this magnificent work brings alive India`s greatest generation and their achievements. Rare is the book on India in which the past so illumines the present.

Ralph Buultjens
Former Nehru Professor, University of Cambridge and Professor, New York University

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ISBN: 9780761936183