THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER ‘Stands out for its judicious and unsparing look at events from a British perspective’ Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times Between January and August 1947 the conflicting political, religious and social tensions in India culminated in independence from Britain and the creation of Pakistan; in Partition, Barney White-Spunner shines a light on those turbulent months.
This period saw the end of ninety years of the British Raj, and the effective power of the Maharajahs, as the Congress Party established itself, commanding a democratic government in Delhi. It also witnessed the rushed creation of Pakistan as a country in two halves whose capitals were 2000 kilometres apart.
From September to December 1947 the euphoria surrounding independence dissipated into shame and incrimination; nearly onemillion people died and countless more lost their homes and their livelihoods as partition was realised. The events of those months would dictate the history of South Asia for the next seventy years, leading to three wars, countless acts of terrorism, polarisation around the Cold War powers and to two nations with millions living in poverty spending disproportionate amounts on their military. The legacy of decisions taken that year still continues.
Those at the centre became some of the most enduring characters of the twentieth century. Gandhi and Nehru enjoyed almost saint-like status in India, and still do, while Jinnah is lionised in Pakistan. The British cast, from Churchill to Attlee and Mountbatten, find their contribution praised and damned in equal measure. Yet it is not only the national players whose stories fascinate. Many ordinary people who witnessed the events of that year are still alive and have a clear recollection of the excitement and the horror.
Illustrating the story of 1947 with their experiences, Partition brings this terrible era for the Indian subcontinent vividly to life.
Educated at Eton College and the University of St Andrews, Barney White-Spunner was appointed Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry in 1996 and became Chief of Joint Force Operations for the British contingent in the Middle East in 2003. He was made Commander of the British Field Army in 2009. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002. This is his first book to be published in the United States.
'This book is at its most powerful in its month-by-month narrative of how Partition tore apart northern and eastern India, with the new state of Pakistan carved out of communities who had lived together for the past millennium.'
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