Three non-fiction books to help you understand India

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor

Inglorious Empire offers a polemical, historical account of British colonialism in India. Sometimes history books can be heavy and dense to read, but I found that this one was written with language and content that is accessible to a wide audience.

This book was born out of a debate in the Oxford Union in 2015, where Tharoor argued that “Britain Owes Reparations to Her Former Colonies”. This is a powerful read which will leave the reader with a lot of thoughts to ponder on the reality of the British Empire and why things are the way they are today in Britain and in India.

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An Autobiography by Gandhi

This book is an essential read for anyone interested in philosophy, South Asian history, and spirituality. The book follows Gandhi’s journey during his search for truth. Gandhi wrote the majority of his autobiography in prison, when the British authorities at the time put him on trial for delivering speeches encouraging people to rebel against the authorities.

This book is multifaceted and thus it could be approached from different angles. It covers the run-up to an important period of Indian history: Indian independence from the British Empire. Gandhi reflects upon the social and political landscape of India, including religious divides, poverty, and establishing peace.

Full review >>>

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

This is an underrated book about the Annawadi slum in Mumbai, based near Mumbai Airport. It is written in narrative non-fiction style, closely following the lives of the residents. This style meant that the reader becomes deeply involved in the lives of the residents, which brings the story to life even more.

Boo wrote this book based on reporting in the slum, having lived and worked in Mumbai herself. Each person that Boo follows has a challenge that they are trying to overcome. As well as teaching the reader about the stark inequalities in Mumbai and India, it offers a new perspective on life and having hope for life to get better.

Published by sharemylibrary

Non-fiction book reviews, summaries, and recommendations

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