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The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History Hardcover – 10 Aug 2016

4.6 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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African novelist and scholar Chinua Achebe famously said that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Most of the books related to the history of Asia and Africa have suffered from this bias since time immemorial. Sanjeev Sanyal attempts to correct this imbalance with his book Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean shaped human history . At the core of the book is the Complex Adaptive System argument that a lot of history is a series of events that happened as a result of Independent Agents interacting with each other with unintended consequences. Like Land of seven rivers , Ocean of Churn too covers a large period. Keeping the Indian Ocean rim as the centre of the narrative, the author takes us through numerous geopolitical upheavals that changed the course of history as we know it today. The research is meticulous, and the author s strategy of visiting almost all the places he writes about pays rich dividends. The book reads sometimes like a travelogue, and the reader feels as if he is witnessing historic events in diverse locations. The choice to tell history through the lens of Indian Ocean rim proves inspired as we learn how commerce, and not a spirit of adventure, or religious fervour was behind most of the conquests through the history. Where the book succeeds most splendidly, is in dispelling many myths about the British influenced history that is commonly read and taught in India even today. So while discussing the history of the Mauryas, we get an eye-opening primer about King Ashoka- the not so great. In a later chapter, the author casts a similarly critical eye on the legend making around the ruler of Mysore- Tipu Sultan. On both occasion, Sanjeev remains carefully neutral in his tone, and sticks to the facts as they are available. It is a refreshing change from the selective storytelling we are used to. The book is equally brutal in exposing the myth of European invaders claim of civilizational superiority. Unlike the brave adventurer portrayed in most of the history, we get to see the barbarian side of most of the early invaders from Europe. It is also instructive to know how officers of the British East India Company indulged into corruption to the point of ruining their employers. The author also introduces little known heroes of Indian history like King Martand Varma who inflicted a defeat that was largely responsible for ending Dutch rule from Indian shores. Throughout all this, the tone of the book remains dispassionate and cool, with an ever open eye to explore (and exploit) humour implicit in many situations. Overall a much nuanced and well researched take on a topic that is in dire need of similar writing. Must read for all readers of history who value facts over predetermined narrative. --By mayur on 19 August 2016

After reading "Six glorious epochs of hindu history" by Veer Savarkar, the stereotype created by left historians of us hindu always been at the losing end SHATTERED a bit as we have won many wars in the midst of perpetual invasion from middle east and west civilisations. Our being still alive today is the proof of the many wars we have won as hindus. --By A Customer on 10 August 2016

A gripping logical rendering of Indian Ocean Region History. Classic presentation of unintended consequences and complex adaptive systems!!! It motivates reading and writing. --By Odakkal Johnson on 12 September 2016

About the Author

Sanjeev Sanyal is an internationally acclaimed economist, urban theorist and a bestselling author. He writes on a wide array of topics ranging from economics to history and in 2014, he was given the inaugural International Indian Achievers Award for contributions to literature. He has been a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London; visiting scholar at Oxford University; adjunct fellow at Institute of Policy Studies, Singapore and a senior fellow of the World Wide Fund for Nature.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House India; Latest edition (10 August 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670087327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670087327
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 3.2 x 15.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #46,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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