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India: A Portrait | [Patrick French]

India: A Portrait

Second only to China in the magnitude of its economic miracle and second to none in its potential to shape the new century, India is fast undergoing one of the most momentous transformations the world has ever seen. In this dazzlingly panoramic book, Patrick French chronicles that epic change, telling human stories to explain a larger national narrative. Melding on-the-ground reports with a deep knowledge of history, French exposes the cultural foundations of India’s political, economic and social complexities.
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Publisher's Summary

A monumental biography of the subcontinent from the award-winning author of The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul.

Second only to China in the magnitude of its economic miracle and second to none in its potential to shape the new century, India is fast undergoing one of the most momentous transformations the world has ever seen. In this dazzlingly panoramic book, Patrick French chronicles that epic change, telling human stories to explain a larger national narrative.

Melding on-the-ground reports with a deep knowledge of history, French exposes the cultural foundations of India’s political, economic and social complexities. He reveals how a nation identified with some of the most wretched poverty on earth has simultaneously developed an envied culture of entrepreneurship (here are stories like that of C. K. Ranganathan, who trudged the streets of Cuddalore in the 1980s selling sample packets of shampoo and now employs more than one thousand people). And even more remarkably, French shows how, despite the ancient and persistent traditions of caste, as well as a mind-boggling number of ethnicities and languages, India has nevertheless managed to cohere, evolving into the world’s largest democracy, largely fulfilling Jawaharlal Nehru’s dream of a secular liberal order.

French’s inquiry goes to the heart of all the puzzlements that modern India presents: Is this country actually rich or poor? Why has its Muslim population, the second largest on earth, resisted radicalization to such a considerable extent? Why do so many children of Indians who have succeeded in the West want to return “home,” despite never having lived in India? Will India become a natural ally of the West, a geostrategic counterweight to the illiberal rising powers China and Russia? To find the answers, French seeks out an astonishing range of characters: from Maoist revolutionaries to Mafia dons, from chained quarry laborers to self-made billionaires. And he delves into the personal lives of the political elite, including the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, one of the most powerful women in the world.

With a familiarity and insight few Westerners could approach, Patrick French provides a vital corrective to the many outdated notions about a uniquely dynamic and consequential nation. His India is a thrilling revelation.

©2011 Patrick French (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

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  •  
    morton Rego Park, NY, United States 10-31-11
    morton Rego Park, NY, United States 10-31-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Epic Book by Award-Winning Author"

    This epic portrait of India is a must for anyone who wants to understand one of the most amazing transformations in recent history. Patrick French does a great job of introducing the listener to a wide range of characters and presenting the political, economic and social complexities of one of the world's largest democracies.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Spencer CHICAGO, IL, United States 12-08-12
    Spencer CHICAGO, IL, United States 12-08-12
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    "This book is excellent for what it is."

    One only wishes that audible had included the bigger, more important book by Mr. French to come out in recent years, namely his biography of V. S. Naipaul The World is What it is. It was a major publishing event and readily adaptable to audiobook. In general, audible seems uninterested in either the biography or the novels of Mr. Naipaul, who is by almost any critical account one of the most important writers in English in the last half century. Anyway, French's India book is enjoyable even for one, such as myself, who has traveled there many times and has read an immense amount on the subject of the country, its people, and its history.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack St Petersburg, FL, United States 12-06-12
    Jack St Petersburg, FL, United States 12-06-12 Member Since 2011

    Blind Vietnam veteran. Antique weapons collector. Outdoor enthusiast. Florida State University graduate with Business major. Owner of home health agency. registered nurse.

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    "Good Information Poorly Presented"

    I love history, particularly about a country that I don't know much about. This book left me still not well informed about India. It was poorly put together and I thought the narration was poor.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sumangala 05-19-14
    Sumangala 05-19-14 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Broad range of topics covered"
    Would you listen to India again? Why?

    Yes, The book is full of interesting information


    What other book might you compare India to and why?

    None, I have not come across a single book that covers the broad range of topics from the past and the modern day India.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The information related to how the British owed money to India at the time of India's indepedence


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    The author does display an anglo-saxon bias in his portrayal of Sonia Gandhi.
    His portrayal of Rahul Gandhi is not balanced. He says following very positive things about Rahul Gandhi without supporting it with any information
    "He’s not sentimental, he has a clinical mind."
    "he was trying to restructure the calcified organization of the Congress party"

    "Rahul Gandhi was up against a cascade of privilege and entitlement that reached to the heart of Indian politics at the centre and at state level". I would say this applies to Rahul as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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