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The Discovery of India Paperback – 1 Feb 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Review

I had heard quite a bit about this book, but never had a chance to read it until very recently. I must say I was highly impressed by it. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India was a thorough intellectual. His narration of history and knowledge about India is excellent. Since he was a nationalist, and also because this book was written while he was in prison, the author's intense dislike for the British do come out oftentimes in his narration of history. However the author himself is aware of it and acknowledges it. Though western educated, Jawaharlal Nehru had an intense love and hope for India. An extremely well read man, this book while giving a very good outline of India's history and past, also serves to provide the readers with Nehru's own philosophy of life and is thus autobiographical at times. This lends it an unique flavour and makes its reading even more enjoyable. While Nehru took intense pride in India's rich heritage, he always emphasised that we cannot live in the past. His dreams and hopes for India as a forward looking, modern and tolerant nation fostering peace and co operation in the world are pretty well brought out in the book. Intensely nationalistic, he was always careful that nationalism does not degenerate into the narrow variety, the type which inevitably does more harm than good. Whether one agrees with his views or not, one can't help admiring the man and developing a respect for him. Overall this book is in many ways a very enjoyable, informative and profound read. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about India. --By Pratip Mitra on November 19, 2000

A number of reviewers have noted that Discovery of India and Glimpses of World History were written during the years Nehru languished in British custody for sedition and civil disobedience. What none of them, nor the publisher, have pointed out is that these books were culled from hundreds of letters that Nehru wrote to his daughter, Indira (Gandhi), then in her teens and early twenties. As a forcibly absentee father, Nehru wanted both to explain his absences and play a role in her life and upbringing. The letters were his gift to her - an indication of his love and caring and a way to educate her in his world view. If the books seem romanticized, that is why. If they seem personal, that is why. And if they seem subjective, that is also why. They were not intended for publication. These were love letters from a father to his daughter to explain the world to her and her place in it, as he saw it. They imparted to the future Prime Minister of India a sense of nationalism, love for country and a belief in democracy, as well as an intimate understanding of politics and working the levers of power. These books are far more than an intellectual exploration of Indian and world history; they were the seeds from which modern Indian history grew. A precious gift, indeed. --By S. Chakravarty on August 24, 2004

I wrote this review a couple of days ago. I noticed a grammatical error. I have corrected it in this version. If you can, please re-post this. Review: Henry Ford should have read this book. He might not have said "History is bunk!" Nehru narrates the history of the world in this gripping story of India from ancient times of the Vedas to the on-going second world war at the time this book was written. Nehru's pragmatism brings home the relevance of history without ever letting the reader take refuge in it to blame the shortcomings of the present. Nehru's scholarly views of the world are a pleasure to read because they are always interspersed with his fascinating experiences of the real world of politics. How many men can write about why he declined an invitation "from Signor Mussolini" and discuss the Upanishads in the same book? Quoting extensively, from Plato to Emerson, Nehru comes across as a brilliant friend from India who has dropped in for a chat in your living room. Reading this book makes you wish for such scholars to succeed in the world of politics. It is especially relevant to us in America where the level of public discussion has reached an all time low with talk-radio and TV. Reading Nehru is a great exercise in understanding how not be boring when discussing esoteric subjects like the Persian civilization, or how the Greeks managed to hold on to thier tradition and at the same time embrace Christianity. Reading 'The Discovery Of India' is sure to make you a very wise person, and at the same time very interesting. Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No --By A Customer on October 23, 1998

About the Author

About the Author: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is the first Prime Minister of India. He is one of the prominent political figures and freedom fighters in the country. Nehru was born on 14 November 1889 and died on 27 May 1964. His birthday was announced as Children's day in India, due to his love for children. He is the son of Motilal Nehru.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin India; New edition (1 February 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143031031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143031031
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 4.6 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By GM TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 March 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought it for my son as it gives an introduction to Indian history & civilisation right as well as insights into events upto World War II. For those who don't study Indian History asgood a subject in school and needs an understanding (without having to delve into thick tomes)), this is a must-read.
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The Discovery Of India is the biography of India penned by the Nation's first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru. Written over 5 months when Nehru was imprisoned in the Ahmadnagar Fort, The Discovery of India turned out to be the magnum opus since it was first published in 1946. And it can rightly be put in the category of 'Classics' 'cause even after more than 69 years, the books seems an elegant work of yesterday.
Started with a brief account of the situation of the colonial India in those day, Nehru seems to have answer the question:" Why & How India becomes what India is today ( During 1946s) ?". For Nehru's book also contained the vision at once too complex and subtle, as well too riven with self-questioning , to lend itself to an ideology of state. What it did offer is an intellectual compass for modern India-an indicator of the direction of a new diverse, disparity-ridden nation would have to take in order to cohere. The eloquent style of using pen makes this book one of the must read with a quality of edifying any one about the true story of India. From the Indus Valley civilization to The Vedas and from The Vikramaditya to the great Ashoka and theen the cholas n the centre to the Mughals and finally the atrocities of British, Nehru had embedded the brief information about all the parameters either humans or objects that shaped the Nation.
In reading The Discovery Of India, it is interesting to observe how Nehru seeks to contain within himself what Gandhi & Tagore individually represented- an to make himself an heir to two fathers.Nehru illuminated what he saw as India's historical capacity to maintain its identity as a confluence of different world civilizations, out of which had emerged a unique array of cultures, religions and ways of living.
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To me, this book opens the doors to the contemporary conception of 'India'. For all intents and purposes, modern India is a Nehruvian conception. This book makes it amply clear. And in that, whenever you need to understand what 'Indian' means, you will find no place to start, but here.
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I'm a Japanese learning India.

Learning India from Jawaharlal Nehru-san is fun.
I thought I'm positive about India, and I've learned that Nehru-san is more positive about the future and potential of India.
Also, it's informative for me to read about the insight such as relationship with Mahatma Gandhi-san and Jinnah-san.

Thank you very much.

I continue working on learning India.
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I was not sure of ordering this book,somehow on suggestion of my friend i had ordered it. I must say it is an extra ordinary creature of Nehru. How he juiced his knowledge in 600 pages from ancient time to British rule. He wrote this book to show history from Indian point of view. He narrated his view for all old Indian religion,literature,rituals and idols.
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This book is not for learning history or philosophy either but to understand the perspective of a Politician. Far more than learning history it'll make you learn what Nehru thinks about India, her history, diversity and future. He excellently unveils great panorama of Indian history in his own approach, he writes what he thinks of India not what is it, however its difficult to describe what India is but Nehru does it in very generous way that's really applaudable .
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Great book indeed. The book had some fungus at the top side so had to wipe that out. The paper quality of the book is poor, seems re-cycled paper material. Very light weight book, no idea how many years it will last because even though it is a brand new book, it caught fungus (Not sure if it was from the seller or grew during the transit period. Expected better packaging.
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It is a brief history of India with the struggle for India's independence. Language is very lucid. Every body should read it and have a copy of it. Thanks Amazon for arranging at such a low price. I already had a copy. This time I have purchased it to give it to son who will visit me during Christmas.
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