A New History of India (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
Stanley Wolpert visited India for the first time in 1948 as a young marine engineer, arriving the day after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. This initial exposure to India fundamentally altered the course of the author’s life, and he thereupon resolved to take up the study of Indian culture and history. He has been teaching at U.C.L.A. since 1958. The work for which he is best known to the general public is the novel Nine Hours to Rama, one of several works he has written set in India, which took its inspiration from the events surrounding Gandhi’s murder. Two previous scholarly efforts, Tilak and Gokhale and Morley and India, 1906-1910, deal with the militant and reformist traditions of Indian nationalism and the British responses to them. Wolpert’s fascination with political history and the personalities of the leading characters in this drama is apparent in these earlier books and provides a link with the present work, his most ambitious to date.
A New History of India is a narrative history directed primarily to the interested general reader and to the beginning college or university student. In it the author surveys the entire course of India’s four-thousand-year history, from the Indus civilization to “Indira Raj,” judiciously balancing his account both geographically and chronologically. For Wolpert the past is indeed prologue: his main purpose is to delineate the historical dimension of certain...
(The entire section is 2126 words.)
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