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Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an. Empire. Author: Alex Von Tunzelmann. Publisher: London: Simon & Schuster Ltd. Year of Publication: . Indian Summer- The Secret History of the End of an Empire. Home · Indian Summer- Author: Tunzelmann Alex von Empire of the Summer Moon. Read more. Read Indian Summer PDF - The Secret History of the End of an Empire by Alex Von Tunzelmann Picador | An extraordinary story of romance.
Behind the scenes, a secret personal drama was also unfolding, as Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru began a passionate love affair. Their romance developed alongside Cold War conspiracies, the beginning of a terrible conflict in Kashmir, and an epic sweep of events that saw one million people killed and ten million dispossessed.
Steeped in the private papers and reflections of the participants, Alex von Tunzelmann's Indian Summer reveals, in vivid, exhilarating detail, how the actions of a few extraordinary people changed the lives of millions and determined the fate of nations.
A fascinating book that may well change how we look on the benighted world in which we live today. To have turned an era of such significance and continuing relevance into a page-turner, to both entertain and educate, is an admirable accomplishment. An opinionated and sardonic writer, [she] is perfectly willing to take on both saints and heroes.
Indian Summer achieves something both simpler and rarer, placing the behavior and feelings of a few key players at the center of a tumultuous moment in history. Alex von Tunzelmann brings a lively new voice to narrative history-writing. But she is also something more unexpected: Alex von Tunzelmann has written a dramatic story, laced with tragedy and farce, and done so very well; a remarkable debut. A History and Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India.
Alex von Tunzelmann was educated at Oxford and lives in London.
Indian Summer is her first book. The Constituent Assembly of India was convened at that moment in New Delhi, a monument to the self-confidence of the British government, which had built its eastern capital on the site of seven fallen cities. Each of the seven had been built to last forever. And so was New Delhi, a colossal arrangement of sandstone neoclassicism and wide boulevards lined with banyan trees.
Seen from the sky, the interlocking series of avenues and roundabouts formed a pattern like the marble trellises of geometric stars that ventilated Mogul palaces.
New Delhi was India, but constructed--and, they thought, improved upon--by the British. The French prime minister, Georges Clemenceau, had laughed when he saw the new city half built in , and observed: Yet amid all the power and finery, two persons were conspicuous by their absence.
One was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, who was in one of those parts of the empire that had just become Pakistan. His absence signified the partition of the subcontinent, the split which had ripped two wings off the body of India and called them West and East Pakistan later Pakistan and Bangladesh , creating Muslim homelands separate from the predominantly Hindu mass of the territory.
The other truant was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was sound asleep in a smashed-up mansion in a riot-torn suburb of Calcutta. Gandhi's absence was a worrying omen. The seventy-seven-year-old Mahatma, or "great soul," was the most famous and the most popular Indian since Buddha.
Regarded as little short of a saint among Christians as well as Hindus, he had been a staunch defender of the British Empire until the s. Since then, he had campaigned for Indian self-rule. Many times it had been almost within his grasp: Each time he had let it go. Now, finally, India was free, but that had nothing to do with Gandhi--and Gandhi would have nothing to do with it.
In the chamber the dignitaries fell silent as the foremost among them, Jawaharlal Nehru, stepped up to make one of the most famous speeches in history. At fifty-seven years old, Nehru had grown into his role as India's leading statesman. His last prison term had finished exactly twenty-six months before.
The fair skin and fine bone structure of an aristocratic Kashmiri Brahmin was rendered approachable by a ready smile and warm laugh.
Dark, sleepy, soulful eyes belied a quick wit and quicker temper. In him were all the virtues of the ancient nation, filtered through the best aspects of the British Empire: And now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge; not wholly or in full measure, but substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, while the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.
The reverential mood in the hall was broken abruptly by an unexpected honk from the back. The dignitaries jerked their heads around to the source of the sound, and a look of relief passed over their faces as they saw a devout Hindu member of the assembly blowing into a conch shell--an invocation of the gods.
Mildred Talbot, a journalist who was present, noticed that the interruption had not daunted the new prime minister. A few hours before, he had received a telephone call from Lahore in what was about to become West Pakistan.
It was his mother's hometown and a place where he had spent much of his childhood. Gangs of Muslims and Sikhs had clashed in the streets. The main gurdwara--the Sikh temple--was ablaze. One hundred thousand people were trapped inside the city walls without water or medical assistance. Violence was a much-predicted consequence of the handover, but preparations for dealing with it had been catastrophically inadequate.
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The only help available in Lahore was from two hundred Gurkhas, stationed nearby, under the command of an inexperienced British captain who was only twenty years old. They had little chance of stopping the carnage. The horror of that night in Lahore set the tone for weeks of bloodshed and destruction. Perhaps the Hindu astrologers had been right when they had declared 14 August to be an inauspicious date. Or perhaps the viceroy's curious decision to rush independence through ten months ahead of the British government's schedule was to blame.
Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire
Emerging into the streets of Delhi, Nehru was greeted by the ringing of temple bells, the bangs and squeals of fireworks and the happy shouting of crowds. Guns were fired, in celebration rather than in anger; an effigy of British imperialism was burned, in both. Tall, broad-shouldered and handsome, he had a brilliant Hollywood smile, easy wit and immediate charm; it might never have been guessed that he had been born a prince were it not for his ability to switch to a regal demeanor.
The new earl and his countess, Edwina, had kept an appropriate distance from the festivities.
While freedom was declared, the couple had spent the night at home, pottering around their palace and helping the servants tidy away anything marked with an imperial emblem. It was a pastiche of the fashionable noir genre: No more than a handful of those in the Viceroy's House that evening could have realized what a very apposite choice of film it was.
While Nehru had been declaring his nation's independence and worrying about the emerging crisis in Lahore, Mountbatten had been sitting in his study alone, thinking to himself, as he later recollected, "For still a few minutes I am the most powerful man on earth. It was an act epitomizing Mountbatten's character. Kingmaking was his favorite sport.
Two minutes later, and the power had vanished. Nehru and Prasad were greeted by the viceroy's wife, Edwina Mountbatten, in lively form despite the lateness of the hour. Vivacious, chic and slim, at forty-five Edwina was still in her prime. Her position as one of the world's richest women had never made her happy. But, over the course of the previous few years, she had finally found a role for herself, leading health and welfare campaigns for the Red Cross and St.
John Ambulance Brigade. The heiress to millions had never been happier than when she was working in the hot, rough and filthy refugee camps that had been set up across the riot-scarred Punjab.
In India, Edwina had blossomed, both in the revelation of her own work and in her close friendships with the Indian leaders, particularly Gandhi and Nehru. It was the second of these friendships that was already the subject of gossip in Delhi society.
The warmth shared by India's new prime minister and Lady Mountbatten was obvious. It was equally obvious that Lord Mountbatten minded not at all.
In contrast to the erupting turmoil across the subcontinent, the scene between imperial lord and victorious revolutionary that night was one of astonishing civility. For half a century Nehru had devoted his life to this single goal of throwing off the yoke of British Empire.
Now it was done, and his first action as prime minister was to pay a call to the power he had just displaced--and to offer it a job.
Photographers scrambled onto the furniture, standing on French-polished tables to get the best angles, firing off a blitz of flashbulbs which shattered noisily over the journalists who squeezed to the front.Resources and Downloads. Thank you!
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Everyone had expected that such a day would be glorious in India's history; but, thanks to Mountbatten, it had somehow been made glorious in Britain's as well. Thank you for subscribing. Emerging into the streets of Delhi, Nehru was greeted by the ringing of temple bells, the bangs and squeals of fireworks and the happy shouting of crowds.
As it was their position in deeply entangled networks of friends and family meant that a disparaging remark made by one over dinner would be heard by the other over their breakfast. His last prison term had finished exactly twenty-six months before.
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