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India: From Midnight to the Millennium Paperback – September 1, 1998

2.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author Shashi Tharoor has spent half of his life outside of India, yet his position as a "NRI" (Non-resident Indian) has given him the distance and perspective necessary to produce India: From Midnight to the Millennium, an in-depth critique of the country's first fifty years of independence. Tharoor, currently executive assistant to the secretary general of the United Nations, is known for both his fiction (The Great Indian Novel, Show Business) and his journalism; in this effort, he blends fine prose with a reporter's talent for analysis, resulting in a skillful examination of some of the greatest challenges India has faced over the past five decades, as well as what lies ahead for the nation.

In chapters devoted to such diverse topics as caste, the free-for-all nature of Indian democracy, the troubled legacy of Indira Gandhi, and the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Tharoor both explicates the history of India since independence and attempts to define what makes India one country and Indians of various ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds one nationality. He is forthright in his discussion of the sectarian violence that has ripped through the country, the corruption that is rife throughout the ranks of the Indian civil service, and the difficulties that face a nation in which 48 percent of the population remains illiterate. Yet Shashi Tharoor writes of these problems with a sense of optimism about the future, confident in the ability of his countrymen to find solutions within a democratic political system. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Tharoor, an Indian diplomat, offers "an insightful and provocative analysis of the accomplishments and failures of the past 50 years" that will be "useful to anyone interested in modern India."
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060977531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060977535
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,974,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As an citizen of India, who immigrated to America at the age of 9, I have a profound connection to my motherland. I have several times tried and failed to find a good history book on India. However, Mr Tharoor's book is beyond compare. It bring history alive with all of the major players from PM Nerhu, PM Indira Gandhi, and many others. The book is a running dialogue between the author and the reader combined with insightful comments and even humor. From its opening which is stunning and very provacative,this book keeps your interest and even increases it. I highly recommend this book to those who are searching for a good book on India's history and for those who want a glimpse into understanding modern India. The best quality is that it contains information about current topics like economic liberalization and Hindu fundamentalism. I liked the book so much that I read The Great Indian Novel which is equally facinating satire of India's political dynasty. I can say with confidence that many NRI's will identify with author's unique background and his feelings about India. In short, this book fills a much needed void.
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Format: Paperback
The other day I was reading an interview by Shashi Tharoor and he says that no budding writer should adopt his style of writing -- once he claims he started writing at 7 in the morning and went on till 12 in the night. And IT SHOWS! His writing is brilliant in flashes and sags in most parts. Especially the chapter about his childhood in Kerala, he goes on and on about a lower caste boy who went on to become an IAS officer -- the whole chapter (which is incidentally not very relevant to the subject) could have been condensed down into 2-3 pages without spoiling the narrative, in fact bettering it.

But this book has really good pieces about Gandhi, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, economic liberalization and emergency. At the same time, Tharoor keeps on harping about the diversity of India -- he picks out around a 100 examples to drive (read pound) that point home. When I picked up the book (after being thoroughly fascinated with his writing style and his insightful comments in his articles), I expected an illuminating account about the growth of India as a country in the 50 years from independence but I should say I was mighty disappointed -- especially since it came from the writer I admired a lot.

In the end I was left with the feeling of a promise gone awry, the feeling that IF ONLY he had spent more time on this, what a masterpiece he could have produced! For sometime now I decided to stick only to his articles.
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Format: Hardcover
Tharror's work is one of the best that I have read so far on modern India. Tharoor's unique background of being born and raised in India (responsible for his love for her) and currently residing out of India in the US (responsible for looking at India more objectively and not being blinded to faults due to patriotism), gives this book an unique flavour. What I found most heartening throughout the reading was that the concept of India was almost holy to him. India with all its faults and shortcomings is beautiful. It's pluralism and democracy are its greatest strengths and Tharoor brings this out most aptly.I think Tharoor reflects the viewpoints of the educated liberal middle class in India,which in my opinion is the most balanced position that we as Indians can take. In conclusion, I would state that this book is a must for Indians or anybody interested in India as she is today.
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By A Customer on January 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book may be my most definitive mixed review. Tharoor is attempting to take his readers on the geographical and cultural journey of a Non Resident Indian, or NRI, and in this process to convey the mixed beauty and confusion of his homeland in a telling contrast to life in the West.
He has only mixed success.
I grew up in a community with a high number of NRIs and from this perspective I find Tharoor full of insights that confirm and expound upon certain cultural trends and ideas that I have been exposed to and sensed before. There were also many new details that fascinated me, and the sketch of Indian history as the backdrop of Tharoor's life is very comfortable reading, well-constructed, and more thorough than one would expect for what is essentially an autobiography. What better way to illustrate social change that to tell a story about someone you have known? A good example is the breakdown of the caste system - told through the story of a boy that Tharoor knew when they were children. It is an effective technique and well-employed.
I do not object, as other reviewers here have, to the story being told from a privileged and upper class perspective. I feel that this fact is made abundantly clear in the book, acknowledged and not apologized for. However, there is s certain pettiness that runs through Tharoor's telling, and it spoils the work as a whole.
This is an intensely personal tale, using very specific cultural and geographic details in its attempt to convey a universal theme. It falls short of this by alienating the reader - or the Western Reader - in various outbursts of frustration and condescension.
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