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India Discovered: The Recovery of a Lost Civilization Paperback – October 15, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; 2nd edition (October 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007123000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007123001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'A gripping, erudite and witty study of the European discovery of India's ancient past. The first book I ever read on India, and still one of my favourites.' William Dalrymple 'Exact scholarship, plus clear, strong writing, with glints of humour on every page ... This book will greatly reinforce Mr Keay's reputation as the best of the post-Raj interpreters of India for English-speakers.' Dervla Murphy, The Irish Times

About the Author

John Keay is the author of five acclaimed histories: 'The Honourable Company,' about the East India Company; 'Last Post', about the imperial disengagement of the Far East; the two-volume 'Explorers of the Western Himalayas', 'India: A History' and 'China: A History'. His books on India include 'India Discovered', 'Into India' and 'The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India was Mapped and Everest was Named'. John Keay is married with four children, lives in Scotland and is co-editor with his wife, Julia Keay, of the 'Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland'.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. G. Plumb on July 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book explores the manner in which European - well British anyway - people became familiar with India from the 1700s on. It is mostly about the discoverers, but also reveals a lot about what they discovered. And the mysteries that remain. The ancient Harappan civilisation - so developed and yet so static - the Hindu culture and the Buddha who grew within it (but where have the Indian Buddhist gone today - how were they driven away or why did the philosophy become unfashionable), the Jains - a sect of the Buddhists? And then there are the aboriginal peoples of India, the Moslem invasions, and, of course, the British.
I have had the good fortune to visit India on several trips - visiting the Taj Mahal, the caves at Elephanta, and Mahabalipuram. But the most spectacular site for me is Khajuraho. All these places are mentioned by Mr Keay (and, of course, many I have not visited) and I found it interesting to read about how each has a context in Indian history and helps us to understand better this continent of enormous population, of refined culture, and of such diverse mixtures of race. But the most amazing thing to me is the realisation that so many of these sites were abandoned ruins that had to be found, explored, restored, conserved. What rich pickings there were for those British colonials who took the continent to heart, and were not repulsed by its alienness.
Khajuraho is a case in point, where the erotic nature of much of the adorned temples was a real shock to early explorers. And yet Mr Keay has some great words for it:
"No pin-up ever approached the provocative postures, the smouldering looks and the langourous gestures of the Khajuraho nymphs.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pazu Kong on September 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Instead of telling you the history of India, this book emphasized the history of how the Indian history was discovered by the British, I always love books written by John Keay, though it's more or less written by a British author with a little bit biased view.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Pranay Manocha on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I first heard about John Keay in another book by William Dalrymple where he wrote that John was an inspiration to him to write about India. This in turn inspired me to buy this book. As an Indian, this book was revealing and awe-inspiring by the scope of the discoveries that it describes. It is unimaginable that many (even more) important centres of history/culture have been destroyed or are maintained poorly and are falling to ruin.

This book is very well documented in parts, obviously backed by a lot of research, that tells facts as they were discovered. The detail given is unmatched. This is a must read for any Indian history buff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rajiv Chopra on August 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
I thought that this is quite an amazing book. I have read much of the history of India, but this is the first time that I read anything about how much we Indians owe to a few intrepid and committed British people who lived in India over the course of two centuries.

The book is laid our very well indeed, and I like the manner in which John Keay takes us through the lives of these Englishmen in a very balanced and nuanced manner.

This is an excellent read, especially for an Indian. It does help to put the British Raj into a better light than is generally portrayed. Indian history owes much to these forgotten Englishmen.
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Format: Paperback
The title is intriguing to say the least and whats equally surprising is the rather diminutive size of the book. What in gods name does a 4000 year odd civilisation have to offer in terms of discovery? Some of what I read left me in complete amazement and more importantly a sense of awe.
This is a book about giants. Not the ogres of fables , but men of stature who deserve a pedestal in the echelons of history as much as the monarchs who through death and destruction spread "civilisation". This is about a group of men who through a strong commitment to humanity yanked India from an area of darkness into the spotlight of greatness that it so deserved.
It begins with a certain William Jones who was by and large the founder of the Asiatic society. A remarkably open minded person who adopted much of the ways of local living. An ardent student of Sanskrit , he was the first to lift the veil that shrouded much of pre-Islamic history. There's a brilliant anecdote in the book about how he pieces together the greek travelogue of Megasthenes with the observations of a geologist and a Sanskrit text to establish that Chandragupta Maurya ruled a vast empire from Pataliputra or modern Patna. What follows is the story of James Prinseps, hard working and immensely dedicated to the cause of Indian history and was somehow able to wedge out Ashoka from the ruins.
Remarkably India had lost the story of Buddha to the ages. Hindu priests had maintained Bodhgaya, but little was known about who the temple was dedicated to. Remarkably the general belief was that Buddha had Egyptian origins. It took the remarkable efforts of Alexander Cunningham to establish the story of Buddhist India. The Harappan civilisation and its discovery (though the discovery was done by R.D.
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