India or Bharat, undoubtedly, has the richest history in the world. The Indian subcontinent is home to the world's oldest civilization, the Indus Valley Civilization. This land is home to numerous brave warriors, evolved sages, breathtaking architecture, spellbinding art, and lessons for the entire world to live by.
There have been many distortions, misattributions, and manipulations of our history over the years. For a long time, India's own history was taught to Indians in the way the British colonists wanted. However, if you want to know history through primary sources, then you would love to read the comprehensive list of books that we have prepared for you. This article is reviewed by a PhD scholar in English literature, Suraj Kumar, who is also a book blogger, keep reading as he explains points to keep in mind while buying history books.
Suraj is a reader by passion and profession and currently pursuing a Ph.D. from the Department of English & Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. He has been book blogging for more than 7 years, as a book blogger, Historical fiction and Political history top the list of his preferred genres. Check out Suraj's work on his Instagram account and website.
Sir Henry Miers Elliot and Professor John Dowson
Edward James Rapson
Kishori Saran Lal
The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians
Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past
The Cambridge History of India Vol. 1
India Through the Ages
Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India
The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company
Land of the Seven Rivers
Train to Pakistan
The Lost River: On the Trail of Sarasvati
A Book From a National Historical Point of View
From the Horse's Mouth
Savarkar, One of the Most Contentious Political Thinkers
A Brilliant Source of Authentic History
Lucid Survey of the Growth of Indian Life
An Extensive Account of the Muslim Rule
History from a Decorated Author
Answers to Many Questions on India's Geographical History
Brother to Enemies Overnight
Decoding the Existence of Sarasvati River
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For all the history buffs, it is time to add some hardcore historical books to your collection. These books are enlisted after considering their factual accuracy instead of narrative. This way, they are bound to paint as clear a picture as possible.
Teaching the young generation an inaccurate history could lead them feeling inferior about their ancestry. So, we have put together a list of ten such hardcore history books that we feel every Indian history buff should read and realise the real history of this land. Before moving on to the list of books, we would like you to understand what all to look for before buying a book on Indian history.
Doing a background check on the author of a book can be a daunting task, but it is essential. It requires you to go through the author’s earlier works and how well were they received. Also, one needs to check if the author has any strong affiliation with any political faction as that could mean that the book is biased.
There are many ways to verify the credibility of the author. Online portals such as Goodreads is a reliable source for checking book reviews. You can go on any such portal and read a brief description of the author and also the reviews he or she has received for that book.
Other factors are also highly important to check - author's expertise, his or her point of view, motivation to write, experience, among other things. Texts on history have always been controversial, so the aim should be to get your hands on a book written by someone popular among peers and readers alike, and whose facts are the least contested.
While traditionally historians have claimed objectivity in their accounts of the past, it is extremely difficult to be completely unbiased. In fact, these days, some authors deliberately make their ideological stance clear.
Thus, one can find history books on the same topic written from different perspectives. Such a view of history from multiple perspectives provides a much richer sense of the past. Lately, there has also been a surge in counter-historical books that provide an anti-mainstream account of past events.
It isn't easy to judge whether a history book is accurate. In fact, we can safely say that every history book is bound to have some error or bias. However, this does not mean that there are no historical books worth reading.
As far as Indian history is concerned, being written by people from all across the world, and by people from different ideologies has definitely taken its toll on the credibility of many of the "popular" books.
Our list of books has been narrowed down to the best ten based on some factors such as references, peer review, reader review, and author's credibility. It is necessary to verify these factors before getting your hands on a history book.
Generally, a book with a lot of references tells us about the number of sources the author has consulted. The peer and reader reviews will give you a clear idea in simple words that you can connect with. Before reading the list of those books, read about a few tips to check the credibility of a book yourself.
The credibility of a history book can be determined by checking its author's qualification too. Academic historians are undoubtedly the most qualified people for writing history books, but sometimes their writing may be difficult to understand. So it is important to know whether a book is written for academic purposes or general readers.
History is not a work of fiction. Therefore, the author has to consult many other works before writing down his or her rendition. The list of references at the back of the book can tell you about the amount and depth of research the author has done. That is usually a good indication of the author's credible work—the more, the merrier.
In the case of historical fiction, the references do not matter as far as the author himself claims that it is not a work of historical accuracy but rather a work of fiction. For example, a prevalent Indian author, Amish Tripathi, author of the Shiva Trilogy.
He uses characters and stories from Hindu mythology but gives them his own twists. This is acceptable as he never claims to be translating the mythological stories. Instead, he claims that it is a work of his imagination.
A reader's experience of reading a history book depends largely on their personal taste. Some readers have a penchant for matter-of-fact things; such readers should go for non-fictional accounts. However, those interested in narratives about the lives of people in a particular period of time should go for memoirs or Historical fiction, such as Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh or So Many Hungers by Bhabani Bhattacharya.
The publisher's reputation is as important as the author's. They judge the potential writers through their agents, pay them advance royalties, and sells the book through book sellers and retailers. There are a handful of ways to assess a publisher's reputation. The first thing you should check is the publisher's previous books.
You can do a brief assessment of its works from the publisher's website. These are a few genuine facts you can check on a publisher's portfolio to develop trust in its work. Apart from this, all the major publishing houses are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
Its members are expected to follow a code of conduct and are also trained in access to publications ethics. Some publishers might be members of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). This organisation also expects its members to follow standard publishing practices and transparency.
Several authors are getting their books self-published. Amazon has also become a platform for publishing books digitally. While generally, the authors who go for self-publishing are considered not good, it is not always true. The much-celebrated Canadian poet, Rupi Kaur, rose to prominence through digital self-publication only. So don't shy away from self-published works. But do check the reviews first.
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If we do not know where we have come from, we are bound to become directionless in the future. History is as important as any other subject, and the children of any country should have access to unbiased history. It should be told in a way that people make their own interpretations rather than relying on someone else's ideology.
Yes, history can probably never be completely objective. If we think about it, nothing can ever be completely objective. The aim should be to stay away from distortions as much as possible and learn from the primary sources. This requires a lot of effort, but no valuable thing ever comes easy.
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