Book Review : Glimpses of World History

   "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it."
                                                                                                                 - George Santayana

Nowhere else in the world has the thread of history flowed continuously, connecting the distant part to the coming future, as it has in India and China. Alas! A majority of us in India have however taken great disdain to the subject and a majority have long-abandoned our culture, deeming it to be inferior in comparison to that of our peers in the West. 

Nowhere is this more obvious than it the fact that even today, the number of history books authored by Indians is remarkably low. I personally have been disappointed by this and Glimpses is one of those few books one comes across which take up the past from an Indian perspective. The book, which is essentially a compilation of letters written by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to his daughter, Indira while in jail, is a must-have for any book-collector worth his name.

Undaunted by the lack of a library, Nehru unravels the tangled web of world history and relives the distant echoes of the ages long gone by, filling up the dry skeleton of history in his inimitable style. His arguments are so exceedingly well thought-out and worded in such an eloquent manner that one cannot help but concur with his standpoint. The book is a dip into the mind of Mr. Nehru, one of the leading figures on the world stage in the 20th century and the man who laid the foundation for modern India.

Panditji makes an expansive sweep of the evolution of man as he progresses from being a semi-civilized brute to a cultured being whilst simultaneously infusing his letter with subtle personal touches intended for his daughter. One is bowled over by his astounding humility given his towering intellectual stature and political strength. The book is also characterized by his staunch belief in the ideals of democracy, socialism and equality.

The only drawback of this book is its expansive nature. At a whopping 1200 pages, it is no cakewalk to read through. Secondly, it covers world events only until the year 1934. Thus, the Second World War, the United Nations and the Cold War find no mention in it. Further, historical understanding of events in continents like Australia and America in the first half of the 20th century was poor, and therefore, Nehru mostly overlooks these areas.

I would definitely recommend it over the books written by contemporary historians. Nehru is not a historian, and the purpose of writing the letters was not only to educate Indira in world history but also to mould her persona and impart to her some of his ideological beliefs. Reading the book shall undoubtedly assist you to better fathom the events which have shaped up the world you live in today.

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