The book is a deliberate attempt by the author to link the two major aspects associated with Indianness – the age old and highly read and respected ‘Mahabharata’ story of the Hindus and the very rich Indian history. The author has tried to bring out the quintessential Indian in him in an attempt to draw parallels between the Mahabharata story and the Indian history, and he has to a great extent succeeded in doing that. The reason why I said it’s a deliberate attempt is because even though the tale of the Mahabharata and the India’s rich history are very dear to the Indian heart, this book is a novel and rather, an intelligent approach by the author to link these varied aspects into a single thread so very coherently. I would definitely give a ten on ten for the effort. The writing style is very engaging and interesting and the narration is captivating.
For any Indian who is very familiar with the Mahabharata story and the Indian political scenario, pre- and post-independence, it is not at all difficult to follow the story. And every Indian is bound to know these as these are some of the things that he grows up listening to, and this approach of combining the essential elements of both into a single coherent story makes the author more endearing to the Indian audiences. It seems that the ability to relate the incidents in the Indian history to similar events in the Mahabharata story comes naturally to him. The author has not shied away from putting in place, his thoughts and opinions on the various political scenarios of the India’s post-independence era. It goes without saying that the author’s expertise in the Indian history and culture has paid off. The story is very interesting and captivating and the book is definitely ‘unputdownable’. I feel every Indian should read it to get a good perspective about India. The amazing fact about this book is that the two stories are so closely integrated that anyone who does not have a sound understanding of both, the Indian history and the Mahabharata story, will not be able to make out that this is an amalgamation of two areas of the Indian heritage. But if you have a sound understanding of both these areas, then you will enjoy the story and appreciate it better. Definitely a great effort from Dr. Shashi Tharoor - an approach that portrays his expertise and exposure in many areas related to India; something that is difficult to expect of an Indian who has spent a lion’s share of his life and career in a foreign land.
A great read, and an inspiring one too.