Cover image for Nehru : the invention of India
Nehru : the invention of India
Tharoor, Shashi, 1956-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub. : Distributed by AOL Time Warner Book Group, [2003]

Physical Description:
xix, 282 pages : genealogical table ; 22 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 11.8 14.0 76713.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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DS481.N35 N38 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DS481.N35 N38 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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New from Shashi Tharoor, eminent United Nations diplomat and author of India: From Midnight to the Millennium, comes an incisive new biography of the great secularist, Jawaharlal Nehru, who - alongside his spiritual father, Mahatma Gandhi - led the movement for India's independence from British rule and ushered his newly independent country into the modern world. 'A well-crafted life of the Indian politician and independence-movement hero... A thoughtful account, likening Nehru to Thomas Jefferson in ways both positive and negative' - Kirkus Reviews

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Tharoor presents an uncomplicated overview of Nehru's life that is, with rare exceptions, an admiring one. True, the author admits, Nehru hung on to power too long, dying in harness in 1964, but the ledger definitely is positive in Tharoor's accounting. Tharoor confines his opinions to asides, however, and directly narrates Nehru's personal chronology: his education in England; his arranged marriage and attachment to daughter Indira; and, naturally, his political relationships during the protests of the 1920s and 1930s and the negotiations of 1945-47 that eventuated in such tragedy. Readers new to Nehru will receive an efficient introduction by Tharoor. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Indian consensus that Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) constructed as the nation's first prime minister, Tharoor writes with unsparing objectivity, "has frayed: democracy endures, secularism is besieged, nonalignment is all but forgotten, and socialism barely clings on." Nehru seems "curiously dated, a relic of another era." His goal of creating "a just state by just means" has been undermined by the centrifugal forces of Indian religious and cultural divisiveness. Tharoor's short and highly readable life never lacks for pithy phrases and strong opinions. A senior U.N. official, Tharoor (India: From Midnight to the Millennium) writes with shrewd wit and cautious ambivalence about Nehru, whom he admires as the Thomas Jefferson of India-a foe of colonialism, a statesman of grace and style and a master of uplifting words-but whose leadership failed in forcefulness and whose political heirs were without his charm. Nehru's privileged Kashmiri background and Harrow-Cambridge education left him replete with paradoxes-a reserved aristocrat yet a near Marxist, a demigod (to the masses) and a democrat (to himself), a political prisoner of the British for nine years who was even more a prisoner to his own "vainglory," an idealist with "a moralism that stood somewhere to the left of morality." Tharoor's distant villain is the curmudgeonly Winston Churchill, whose staunch "racist imperialism," particularly toward India, made his "subsequent beatification as an apostle of freedom... all the more preposterous." This engaging short biography is a scrutiny of a major 20th-century leader from his "Little Lord Fauntleroy" beginnings to his transformation into a historic figure wearing a halo in his own lifetime. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this nonscholarly but nicely written account of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian freedom fighter and India's first prime minister, senior UN official Tharoor offers a balanced interpretation, touching on key points in Nehru's life: his English education, the importance of guidance he received from his father and Gandhi, his prison years during the drive for independence, and his administration of the new Indian republic. He neatly pulls together the essence of Nehru's beliefs in democratic institution building, pan-Indian secularism, Socialist democratic economy, and the foreign policy of nonalignment. Tharoor is not shy, however, about criticizing Nehru for his Socialist economic programs, which held back India's economic progress for nearly two decades. Likewise, Nehru's misguided views on India's foreign policy with China do not go unnoticed. Although the author sometimes falls into unnecessarily nasty political rhetoric about British policies in India, in the main this work is gracefully written and presented. If readers could choose only one narrative about Nehru, this would suffice. Highly recommended for public libraries.-John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) was one of the great political figures of the 20th century, beloved by both the masses and the elite in India. His greatest contribution as prime minister (1947-64) was the creation of a liberal constitution, the maintenance of the world's largest democracy, and perhaps, above all, the establishment of a secular polity in a nation characterized by religious affiliation. No other Third World country has had such an enviable history. However, Nehru was very much a product of his time and did not have the vision to see the coming victory of global capitalism. The memory of British rule prevented many Indians for a generation from embracing global capitalism because of its association with imperialism, and from allying with the West in the Cold War. Tharoor (under-secretary-general, Communications and Public Information, UN) shares this analysis of Nehru in this easy-to-read portrait that deals with his brilliance and failures. The author is one of the few Indians who clearly acknowledges the colossal blunder made by Gandhi and Nehru in 1939, when Congress resigned from government positions, and in 1942, when they subjected themselves to prison for several more years with the Quit India movement. By giving up all their political strength and advantage over wounded pride and absurd principle, they virtually created Pakistan. Brown (Univ. of Oxford) is a fine historian and renowned author of several highly acclaimed academic works on Gandhi. Her book is more comprehensive and academic than--and not as emotional as--Tharoor's, and is the volume to read for an account of Nehru's life. The strength of this good historical book that is not unhistorical (a rarity) is Brown's placement of Nehru's political life and choices within his generation's. However, she does not see Nehru's egregious errors of 1939 and 1942 or his immoral conduct over Kashmir, which has led to so much bloodshed. ^BSumming Up: Both--recommended. Most levels and libraries. R. D. Long Eastern Michigan University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
A Note on Indian Political Movementsp. xiii
The Nehru Family Tree: Five Generationsp. xix
1 "With Little to Commend Me": 1889-1912p. 1
2 "Greatness Is Being Thrust upon Me": 1912-1921p. 19
3 "To Suffer for the Dear Country": 1921-1928p. 41
4 "Hope to Survive the British Empire": 1928-1931p. 63
5 "In Office but Not in Power": 1931-1937p. 87
6 "In the Name of God, Go!": 1937-1945p. 111
7 "A Tryst with Destiny": 1945-1947p. 133
8 "Commanding Heights": 1947-1957p. 159
9 "Free Myself from this Daily Burden": 1957-1964p. 193
10 "India Must Struggle against Herself": 1889-1964-2003p. 219
Who's Who: Short Biographical Notes on Personalities Mentionedp. 253
A Note on Sourcesp. 263
Select Bibliographyp. 265