1) India: A History – John Keay

1) India: A History – John Keay
Grove Atlantic | 2011 | EPUB

The Indian subcontinent is one of the world’s most fascinating and complicated regions, the home of a billion and a half people, several major religions, and one of the world’s oldest and most richly diverse civilizations. In India: A History, acclaimed South Asia expert John Keay spans five millennia in a sweeping narrative that tells the story of the peoples of the subcontinent, from their ancient beginnings in the valley of the Indus to the events in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh today.

This book is a compelling epic of cultures and conquest, colonization and independence. It vividly re-creates the turning points of Indian history and brings to life the leaders who shaped India’s evolution, from Ashoka, the “Caesar of Ancient India,” who ruled the vast Mauryan empire in the third century B.C., to twentieth-century figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Along the way Keay provides fresh insights into the patterns of invasion and migration that have stirred the subcontinent’s cultures for centuries, from the “Aryan” invaders, to Alexander’s Macedonian armies, to the Islamic conquerors, to the coming of the East India Company and the establishment of the British Raj. He also profiles the rise of religions and philosophies that have profoundly shaped these cultures, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.

Throughout the book Keay synthesizes recent revelations from archaeology, anthropology, and textual scholarship to explode the myths that have plagued the highly politicized historiography of the region. He investigates the controversy surrounding the origins of the Harappan peoples who built the first cities of the subcontinent, explains the cultural and political significance of India’s architectural marvels such as the Taj Mahal, and details the bloody suppressions that characterized the “Pax Britannica” of the Raj. Provocative, comprehensive, and highly readable, India: A History is a panoramic portrait that is destined to become the authoritative work on the region for years to come.

2) China: A History – John Keay
Basic Books | 2009 | EPUB

Many nations define themselves in terms of territory or people; China defines itself in terms of history. With the world’s longest tradition of history-writing, its extraordinary past ought to be common knowledge. China, by the eminent historian John Keay, should make it so.

Informed by the latest research and enlivened by wit and anecdote, Keay’s narrative spans 5,000 years, from the Three Dynasties (2000–220 BC) to Deng Xiaoping’s opening of China and the past three decades of economic growth. Broadly chronological, the book presents a history of all the Chinas—including regions (Yunnan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Manchuria) that account for two-thirds of the People’s Republic of China land mass but which barely feature in its conventional history.

Crisp, judicious, and engaging, China is destined to become the classic single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand the past, present, and future of this immensely powerful nation.