As a reader, we like to experiment with different genres. Also in non-fiction, an area often overlooked in India was history. India’s history is fascinating and several young authors are publishing books about kings, queens and dynasties that appeal to today’s readers.
One of these authors is Manu S Pillai, who has written four books and is a renowned historian. Apart from his research, Manu also finds time to read other books on history.
Here are 10 history books recommended by Manu S Pillai:
1. Gem in the Lotus: The Seeding of Indian Civilization by Abraham Eraly
This book is considered a comprehensive and compelling portrait of ancient India. Eraly explores all the important milestones of the Indus Valley Civilization through Aryan Vedic culture to the beginnings of Jainism and Buddhism and ends with the Mauryan Empire.
In an interview with Scroll, Manu recommends Abraham Eraly’s work to young readers. He recommends starting Eraly’s work with Gem in the Lotus.
“A series that I highly recommend, including to young readers with an interest in Indian history, is the work of Abraham Eraly – a hugely underrated but gifted writer of historical non-fiction who died a few years ago,” Manu said. scroll.
2. Lady Doctors: The Untold Stories of India’s First Women in Medicine by Kavitha Rao
This book chronicles the stories of the first female doctors in India, who had to fight many battles to achieve their dreams. Kavitha Rao uncovers the stories of six women who defied the odds in the 1860s to 1930s to pave the way for today’s doctors. Anandibai Joshi, considered India’s first female doctor, flouted caste rules when she crossed an ocean to study. Rukhmabai Raut divorced her husband and studied to become a doctor; Kadambini Ganguly, cared for eight children while she worked, widowed child Haimabati Sen, who overcame poverty and hardship.
Manu calls it one of the best books he has read.
3. White Mughals by William Dalrymple
White Mughals is a love story set in 1798, Hyderabad, between James Achilles Kirkpatrick, a British resident, and Kahir un-Nissa, the great-niece of the Prime Minister of the Nizam and a descendant of the Prophet. Through this love story, Dalrymple gives us an image of the political and cultural life of India in the 18th century, under British domination.
In a Twitter interaction, Manu credits the White Mughals for his interest in history. “I discovered my interest (in history) not so much in textbooks as in White Mughals and WD’s 1957 book,” Manu tweeted.
4. Akbar: The Great Mughal by Ira Mukhoty
This book traces Abu’l Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, the third Mughal emperor. During his reign, the Mughal Empire was one of the richest in the world and covered much of the Indian subcontinent. Mukhoty covers Akbar’s life and the Mughal Empire under him in detail. She reveals to us her ambitions, her mistakes, her bravery, her military genius, her empathy for her subjects and her efforts to reform the governance of her empire.
In several interviews, Manu recommended this book. He says the perspective that female authors bring to writing history is fascinating, and something that has been missing for far too long.
“A much heavier volume, also about an Indian emperor and written with great charm, in that it brings to light small details to portray this famous king and his human eccentricities as much as his political achievements,” Manu told AFP. Hindu.
5. Indica: A Profound Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent by Pranay Lal
Indica traces the evolution and natural history of the Indian subcontinent. He talks about the oldest rocks in Karnataka, reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals and plants. It shows us how every piece of rock and every inch of ground is a virtual museum and how, for billions of years, millions of spectacular creatures have reproduced, walked and lived above and below.
Manu recommends this book and says it’s one he gives people often.
“Indica has beautiful illustrations and is produced with great charm,” Manu told Chalchitra Talks.
6. The Language of History by Audrey Truschke
The Language of History analyzes an unrecognized history of Indo-Muslim or Indo-Persian rule written in Sanskrit. These Sanskrit texts were written between 1190 and 1721. This book covers Mughal rule and the Delhi Sultanate and Muslim rule in the south.
It was one of Manu’s best reads of 2021.
7. Kabir, Kabir of Purushottam Agrawal
In The Life and Work of the Modern Poet-Philosopher Kabir, Agrawal presents readers with a new interpretation of Kabir. The book talks about the nation’s past and present through Kabir’s life and poetry. In this rare assessment of Kabir’s writings and life, Purushottam Agarwal approaches this timeless poet-revolutionary with few preconceptions, presenting him as the poet wanted to be seen, rather than what his followers and fans wanted to see in him.
It was also one of Manu’s best reads of 2021
8. Gandhi’s Assassin: The Creation of Nathuram Godse and His Idea of India by Dhirendra K Jha
This book traces the beginnings of Nathuram Godse. Drawing on never-before-seen archival material, Jha challenges the sanitization of Gandhi’s assassination and offers insight into the making of independent India. It talks about Godse’s journey which led to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi,
Manu said this book was on his list in an interview with Chalchitra Talks.
9. Furrows in a Field: The Uncharted Life of HD Deve Gowda by Sugata Srinivasaraju
This book traces the life of HD Deve Gowda, who became Prime Minister in 1996 and held the post for less than a year. He has been in politics for almost seven decades. He started at the very bottom as a member of the Holenarasipur Taluk Development Council and rose to the top as the eleventh Prime Minister of India. Even 25 years after stepping down as prime minister, he has remained relevant in Indian politics. He is a self-made man and started his journey from scratch.
Manu recommends this book for political history.
“This is an excellent book on the life of Deve Gowda. I was a kid when he became prime minister, and his rise has led to some interesting adult conversations. He has achieved a lot in 11 months as prime minister,” Manu told Chalchitra Talks.
10. The Decline of Nair Dominance by Robin Jeffrey
This book is about society and politics in Travancore from 1847 to 1908. It tells the story of how a long-standing matrilineal society began to crumble. Anyone who has walked the streets of Trivandrum, or reflected on the remarkable social achievements of Kerala’s model of development, will find in this book a vivid evocation of an era in history and an essential foundation for their understanding of God’s own country.
In a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), when a Redditor asked Manu for a book to understand the history of Kerala in the 20th century, Manu recommended this book. He called it one of the best from the 19th to the 20th century.
Edited by Yoshita Rao; Image courtesy of Manu S Pillai’s Instagram