How much do you score on this list of 5 must read books on Indian History?

Preparing for Civil Services gives you the best time to catch up on your nation’s history, unless you are the one who snoozes through the subject and wakes up in the last minute to ratofy Spectrum books!

But traditional books tend to become a boring read after a while! Add to that, the oft recommended best sellers – Discovery of India, Freedom at Midnight, Argumentative Indian and likes become a tad too traditional for our senses, neh?

Hence, to keep things spicy, go through this article and let us know – How much do you score on this list of 5 must read books on Indian History?

#1. The Idea of India by Sunil Khilnani


This long essay makes an eloquent and persuasive argument for Nehru’s idea of nationhood in India. At a time when the relevance of Nehru’s vision is under scrutiny, this book assumes a special significance.

This is what Anil Swaroop (Secretary, GoI) has to say about the book,

The book doesn’t directly answer the critical question: What is the idea of India? However, it lays bare certain dimensions of the idea that enables the reader to have a reasonably good idea of the idea. A well researched book on what could be the idea of India. Given the complex matrix of Indian history and the present day existence, it is indeed difficult to articulate in black and white such an idea but one can comprehend and perhaps appreciate it as one walks through the pages of the book.


#2. The Story of India by Michael Wood

Michael sets out on an epic journey across this vibrant country to trace the roots of India’s present in the incredible riches of her past. The Story of India is a magical mixture of history and travelogue, and an unforgettable portrait of India – past, present and future.

Why should you read it?

It reinforces some otherwise mundane facts with beautiful anecdotes! You will read a lot about Kanishka and the southern empires in this compelling narrative. In case you haven’t watched the BBC produced documentary, do give it a shot!

#3. The Great Arc by John Keay

The Great Arc is a wonderful little chronicle of the “Great Trigonometrical Survey” carried out in India roughly between 1800-1860 CE. Various teams surveyed India right from its southern tip, to the Himalayas.

Do you know the importance of that work?

The Great Arc made possible the mapping of the entire Indian sub-continent and the development of its roads, railways and telegraphs. India as we now know it was defined in the process.

It’s a thin book and is amazingly well chronicled and you would thank us for referring this to you!

#4. Land of the Seven Rivers by Sanjeev Sanyal

Did the Great Flood of Indian legend actually happen? Why did the Buddha walk to Sarnath to give his first sermon? How did the Europeans map India?
The history of any country begins with its geography. So grab this book as soon as you can! 

#5. India After Gandhi by Dr. Ramachandra Guha


We are sure you already know about this one. Why doubt an aspirant’s wisdom and knowledge when he has already spent countless hours wondering whether to read post independence from India After Gandhi or fall back on Bipan Chandra!

However, we did come by an interesting review of this book and we would do well to produce a befitting quote to suit the magisterial work that this is.

If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.
— Terry Pratchett


So, that was it from our side! If you have some free time, catch up on these books. Let us know some of your favorites and of course, do let us know your score!


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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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