The Discovery of Nehru

Historians, writers and politicians recommend a Nehru reading list.

By: Express News Service | Published: November 15, 2014 12:27:43 am

— Ramachandra Guha, historian

The Discovery of India
Jawaharlal Nehru

A moving account, written in jail, of the country’s history and culture, very revealing of the author himself.

Nehru: A Contemporary’s Estimate
Walter Crocker

A crisp, concise assessment of an Australian scholar-diplomat who lived in Delhi in the 1950s

Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography
Sarvepalli Gopal

The standard and still unsurpassed life, based on unprecedented access to Nehru’s papers.

— Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former governor of West Bengal

A Study of Nehru
Edited by Rafiq Zakaria

This collection of essays was published in his lifetime and was, therefore, valuable as an assessment of the man in real time. It critiqued the man, sharply and frontally, while acknowledging his unique impact on his times.

A Gentle Colossus
Hiren Mukherjee

Mukherjee was a political opponent of Nehru from India’s Left, sparing no occasion in Parliament or outside it, to upbraid his policies and programmes. And yet, in the best traditions of democracy, he chose to analyse the pluses and minuses of his adversary and the bitters, sweets and sours of his political leadership, with what Hiren babu would not have liked being said of him: real “class”.

Nehru: A Contemporary’s Estimate
Walter Crocker

Crocker, Australia’s High Commissioner to India was no blind admirer of the Prime Minister of the country he was accredited to. In fact, he rather admired some of Nehru’s democratic opponents more — like, for instance, C Rajagopalachari and Jayaprakash Narayan. And yet he was drawn to Nehru’s intellect and to his politics sufficiently to go beyond the call of diplomatic duty to analyse Nehru’s impact on his times, with disinterested interest.

— Madhavan K Palat, historian and series editor of OUP’s Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru

I would recommend S Gopal’s biography of Nehru, Ramachandra Guha’s India After Gandhi, MJ Akbar’s Nehru: The Making of India, Michael Brecher’s Nehru: A Political Biography and BR Nanda’s reliable and authoritative Jawaharlal Nehru: Rebel and Statesman

— Tridip Suhrud, social scientist

My recommendation would be to go back to Nehru and to his Selected Writings. The reader would find there an exceptionally fine mind, someone deeply concerned about the fate of India and its people, about democracy and the shape it could take, the place of India in the community of nations.

— Nayantara Sahgal, author

Apart from S Gopal’s biography and Hiren Mukherjee’s The Gentle Colossus, I would urge the readers to read Nehru, especially Glimpses of World History, his autobiography Toward Freedom and The Discovery of India

— Mani Shankar Aiyar, Congress leader

Nehru: A Political Biography
Michael Brecher

This was perhaps the first study of Nehru as prime minister. The chapter that endures in my mind is the one which memorably compares and contrasts Nehru and Patel.

Jawaharlal Nehru: Civilizing a Savage World
Nayantara Sahgal

A particularly intimate portrait of Nehru’s conception of foreign policy as it is largely based on the correspondence between him and his sister, Vijaya Laxmi Pandit.

Nehru and Bose: Parallel Lives
Rudrangshu Mukherjee

The latest offering on the evolution of Nehru as a politician, contrasted to the parallel political career of Subhash Chandra Bose, his closest intellectual colleague but perhaps his most distant political partner.

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