Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition

Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition Nobody expected the liberation of India and birth of Pakistan to be so bloody it was supposed to be an answer to the dreams of Muslims and Hindus who had been ruled by the British for centuries Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi s prot g and the political leader of India, believed Indians were an inherently nonviolent, peaceful people Pakistan s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was a secular lawyer, not a firebrand But in August , exactly a year before Independence, Calcutta erupted in riots A cycle of street fighting targeting Hindus, then Muslims, then Sikhs spun out of control As the summer ofapproached, all three groups were heavily armed and on edge, and the British rushed to leave Hell let loose Trains carried Muslims west and Hindus east to their slaughter Some of the most brutal and widespread ethnic cleansing in modern history erupted on both sides of the new border, searing a divide between India and Pakistan that remains a root cause of many evils From jihadi terrorism to nuclear proliferation, the searing tale told in Midnight s Furiesexplains all too many of the headlines we read today It s not for beginners Although I know a bit about India, Pakistan and the wider region due to reading up on the news, having Indian Pakistani friends, etc I thought this might be a great book to help me understand the history a bit better I had read and seen a couple of interviews with the author where he talks a bit about both history and the current events and it sounded really fascinating Unfortunately, I felt this was a really tough read While I certainly wouldn t expect a 101 level te It s not for beginners Although I know a bit about India, Pakistan and the wider region due to reading up on the news, having Indian Pakistani friends, etc I thought this might be a great book to help me understand the history a bit better I had read and seen a couple of interviews with the author where he talks a bit about both history and the current events and it sounded really fascinating Unfortunately, I felt this was a really tough read While I certainly wouldn t expect a 101 level textbook to spoon feed me, I found the text a real struggle The focus is the conflict surrounding the eventual creation of modern India and Pakistan from the politics to the violence in the streets But unfortunately it s tough to grasp with the large cast of characters there is no Who s who list and maybe it s just me who had trouble keeping who s who separate I also found the text genuinely difficult to read Some sections were fascinating and kept me going, but there were several places where my eyes dragged and I just felt it just wasn t compelling reading I d also agree that it s not a great book to connect the then and with the now Again, I don t think it s required for the author to hand hold and he does have an epilogue at the end , but the book ends at the beginning of 1949 and then there s pretty much a time skip in the epilogue Although the partition is the focus, I would have loved to have a longer epilogue looking at the events since then to the present day I personally suspect the author s background as a journalist just doesn t help As a longread article or as a series of articles this could have been great But as a book I really disliked his writing style, not content And while this may be me, I felt that someone reading this is expected to have a greater knowledge of the history of Pakistan, India and the relations between the two countries A reviewer onthought he she would run it by relatives who actually lived in this time period to see what they thought This might have been a better read for me if I knewbefore picking this up I might have gotten a lotout of it, and will consider revisiting it someday Borrow from the library and try before you buy What is the main reason for the continuing animosity between India and Pakistan Why can t they just get along Nisid presents the main reasons for the distrust between the two governments which sadly is still pretty much the same after 70 odd years since their creation Both founding fathers, Nehru and Jinnah almost completely distrusted each other and did their utmost to destabilize their nemesis India using their superior army while Pakistani resorted to proxy a tribal mujahedin model to cou What is the main reason for the continuing animosity between India and Pakistan Why can t they just get along Nisid presents the main reasons for the distrust between the two governments which sadly is still pretty much the same after 70 odd years since their creation Both founding fathers, Nehru and Jinnah almost completely distrusted each other and did their utmost to destabilize their nemesis India using their superior army while Pakistani resorted to proxy a tribal mujahedin model to counter India s army Unfortunately, the same formula is employed even today, why because it still works and I would argue that it has gotten worse with the rise of RSS BJP government in its second term So if Pakistanis started using Islam as the main ideology for Pakistan after the fall of Dhakka, the Indians seem to have followed them by ideology to Hinduvita, leaving little room for minorities on either side.What can be a common ideology which unites both arch enemies from their far right ideologies I had mixed feelings about this work My biggest complaint is that it seemed based to large degree on secondary sourcesso than I d hoped and the preface seemed to suggest , and as such it didn t seem to cover as much new ground as one would hope for an already thoroughly documented historical event On the other hand the narrative itself is really gripping and well written The book is an absolute page turner and I suppose that in itself makes it worth writing another book on Partition.Co I had mixed feelings about this work My biggest complaint is that it seemed based to large degree on secondary sourcesso than I d hoped and the preface seemed to suggest , and as such it didn t seem to cover as much new ground as one would hope for an already thoroughly documented historical event On the other hand the narrative itself is really gripping and well written The book is an absolute page turner and I suppose that in itself makes it worth writing another book on Partition.Content wise, Jinnah unsurprisingly comes across poorly Nehru fares much better, although by no means comes across unscathed One thing that the author does very well is tracing the roots of Pakistan s current paranoia about India back to the initial attempts by India to devour the Pakistani state The early roots of Pakistani support for non state militias is also traced, with their predecessors being the impromptu militias who travelled to fight in the Punjab and Kashmir during the breakup of the country.Nonetheless, Pakistan itself clearly seems to have been a half baked idea concocted callously by Jinnah, and perhaps even supported by the British as a means to handicap a newly independent India Reflecting in hindsight, its clear that a full India would be a potential superpower today, and maybe would have already been long ago In this light, the support British Conservatives gave at the time Muslim nationalism makes sense in a sinister way as a parting kick to the subcontinent.In Partition, India came apart in a manner from which it has never healed A mosaic of cultures that existed for millennia was blasted apart by the mania of nationalism, something which feelsandtoday like a mere fad Above all, due to the inability of a few craven elites to get along, millions of ordinary people who would ve in all likelihood continued to live peacefully ended up suffering in the most grievous manner possible My gripe on the sources aside, this is a compelling and fairly evenhanded look at one of the greatest calamities to occur in the 20th century a high bar For those unfamiliar with the history it offers a good primer The book begins with up close and personal stories on the 3 leaders Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohandas Ghandi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah This warm and engaging part is followed by the politics and violence of the independence movement followed by the politics and violence of achieving independence The book Indian Summer tells this story with emphasis on the British role, this book focuses on the role of the Indians.It seems thatthan half this book tells of the mobs, people hacked to pieces deat The book begins with up close and personal stories on the 3 leaders Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohandas Ghandi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah This warm and engaging part is followed by the politics and violence of the independence movement followed by the politics and violence of achieving independence The book Indian Summer tells this story with emphasis on the British role, this book focuses on the role of the Indians.It seems thatthan half this book tells of the mobs, people hacked to pieces death, arson, suicide or forced conversions in lieu of rape, rape, villages wiped out, trains arriving in Pakistan full of bodies, body parts and blood For the political parts a reader needsbackground than I have Without the threads that hold the story together a lot of the narrative seemed like a collection of episodes You really need to know why the British inclusive of Churchill agreed to the creation of Pakistan and why British officers served in both the Indian and Pakistani armies Why were the Sikh s not at the bargaining table The author frequently alludes to both sides doing it it being violence or intransigence at the bargaining table but you never see Nehru encouraging violence or giving it a wink and a nod and despite his hatred for Jinnah, he tried to work with him Nevertheless, there is a lot to learn You see that the vibrant independence movement did not provide independence Britain s devastation from WWII did that but produced the leaders for the new India and Pakistan You can see Jinnah s toxic leadership and the violence partition spawned You see the meetings of the leaders and their helplessness to stop the violence You see Jinnah s denial that lives in Pakistan today in its role with the Taliban and housing Osama Bin Laden There are interesting narratives on personal lives of the key people, the dynamics of their meetings, how areas eligible to join a country did so and Jinnah s telling Bengali s that their language will be Urdu to name a few There are sad turning points such as setting the date for partition and India s handing funds over to Pakistan The numbers of casualties are staggering This story is ripe for alternative histories If there were no Jinnah, would there be a Pakistan If there were no Pakistan, would India suffer from a restive minority Would violence have been avoided if the partition was giventime or if the ruler of Kashmir joined his area with India sooner Should there have been a partition for the Sikhs The maps are helpful and the Index worked for the few times I used it The research is well documented and the writing is readable The B W have good portraits of the key players

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