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The Discovery of India Paperback – 1 Feb 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 85 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 (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'd say this book is good for someone who is in college. Needs the time and effort to read it as it is a long read (as well as intense at times). Nehru-ji impresses the reader with the breadth of his knowledge - both of India and the world. I wish at times he explained what those phrases in French meant ! He makes a compelling case of why the reader should be proud of India's culture and heritage. With ample examples, he brings that out very well. At times though, it feels repetitive to hear his arguments for how the British rule has spoiled the economy but he backs all those with facts. It is not jingoism when you express how superior the country is as long as the statements are scientific and fact-based. Talking of which, his penchant for scientific inquiry stuck me the most. I wish the countrymen (especially all politicians of his day) shared that.

Liked: his fact-based, scientific inquiry of India's history & his pride at being an India
Dislikes: some arguments repeated multiple times & the minor French references :)

Overall, worth reading.
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The good part about about Nehru's writing is that he makes you forget that he is a politician and takes you on a idealistic trip where India is always at peace and always open to refugees, which is true to certain extent without which it wouldn't have developed its time old traditions but he paints a picture as if the amalgamation happened without disturbing the social fabric of those times. Though he recognizes the fact that, as a society India was stagnant for a while and some patriarchs don't like him say that given his stance on religion and they tend to take everyone for ride to where Nehru is painted as an anti nationalist.
One could say after reading this book that Nehru had an thorough idea of what India was like in the past and what its stance should be after the independence. He tries to put his case forward as in what he would like to do if he comes to be the Prime Minister of independent India. He doesn't mention any where in the book how much time he spent in the prisons on the whole (9 years of 75 years of his life). The beauty of this book is he wants his country men and women to be optimistic and that future would be brighter as they would be the masters of their future. To get a proper unbiased assessment of Nehru and what he has done during his years in power one should definitely follow this book with ''Nehru: A Contemporary's Estimate by Walter Crocker'' who was Australian ambassador at that time,in which Crocker demystifies Nehru, who himself is a Nehru's fan.
There are too many books out there on India's history, politics, religion and its long freedom struggle. If you are looking for that book can give you Indian panorama as a crash course this is that book. After reading this book followed by Crocker's book you get to a point, one would say India couldn't have had a better Prime minster and also Nehru couldn't have lived in any other place other than India.
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Format: Paperback
Love him or hate him but you cannot deny him for this master piece.
You will enjoy each and every line of this book and in doing so one cannot miss to appreciate knowledge of Nehru, amazing write up which will keep you hooked till the last line.
One may not fully agree with few of his view like "Comming of Aryans , Aryan Dravidian conflicts" as recent study have fully proved that aryans where fully Native. (One may also not miss "Coming of Aryans" theory was widely accepted during those times).

Truly a master piece, read it to appreciate the knowledge and his view of INDIA (what could be interpreted as discovery of "atma" of INDIA which absorbs every thing that comes along her way).
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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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As you start reading this book,from the very first page , two things slowly start becoming unraveled..,(i) amazing intellectual depth of Jawaharlal Nehru & (ii)his grand & practical vision for India . When we reach the last page, we are through to one of the most comprehensive accounts of India's rich history & heritage, its erosion & reasons of that, & the way forward, how to reconstruct India to reclaim its position of zenith in world.
When we read this book today, we can realize, how Nehru predicted about today's India almost 80 years before. A must read for all , who either love India or Interested in India or both.
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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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By Harshavardhan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 May 2014
Format: Paperback
Penetrating through the great historian's perspective......, If you are going to read one and only book about past glorified India and its cherished unity underneath diversity, let this be the one.
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