Friday, August 21, 2009

Muhammad Ali Jinnah of Pakistan

Ever controversial, Muhammad Ali Jinnah has not always been dealt with kindly by historians and biographers. Complex, brilliant and ambitious, Jinnah remains, in many ways, a conundrum, understood least by those who have deified him as well as those that seek to vilify him.

Stanley Wolpert's biography Jinnah of Pakistan is "an important contribution to the study of one of the most significant episodes of modern history-the partition of India. Scholarly, insightful, understanding and brilliant. Scholarship and the art of portrayal merge so masterfully in the work that Jinnah's personality becomes truly alive. Wolpert's biography of Jinnah is excellently written...comprehensive in its sweep. The first scholarly biography of one of the most important political figures of the modern world. Beautifully written, insightful, and dispassionate, it brings to life this complex, brilliant, and ambitious leader. Wolpert's well-researched biography...will... revive the debate... on the measure of Jinnah's foresight."

Ainslee Embree, commenting on the book, says it is “an important contribution to the study of one of the most significant episodes of modern history, the partition of India. Jinnah’s role has been consistently distorted both in scholarly work and in the popular media as most recently in the Gandhi film…. Wolpert has suceeded in showing Jinnah as a rationalist of great intelligence and political ability, who was driven to become the spokesman for the partition of India by tides of Indian Nationalism….” And Norman Palmer: “A magnificent biography… We should be grateful to Stanley Wolpert for a book that combines meticulous research and scholarship with a lively and interesting style. He is one of the rare species: a scholar who can â€" and will -â€" write well.”

In our Biography section, in paperback, 419 pages, Rs 345, ISBN: 9780195678598

And now comes the Jaswant Singh book, Jinnah: India-Partition Independence. Heavy, at 674 pages, Rupa claim that Singh "doesn't uphold any sacred cows as he attempts to shatter the great many myths surrounding partition in both India and Pakistan." An unfortunate metaphor, given that Singh has been expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party, champion of sacred cows and other sacred cows. Another partition seems to be in the offing within the BJP, between the voices of reason, if any, that would let the book be judged on its merits, if any, and the shrill tones that have expelled a man, who for all his shortcomings, demonstrated fealty in the face of reason.

Also in our Biography section, Rs. 695, In hardcover, 674 pages, ISBN: 9788129113788

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