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July 13, 2006

India? Brazil?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Lex is looking for a good, David Hackett Fischer-ish intro to India, and one to Brazil as well. I'll second him and add: I'd like good, short Fischer-ish intros to both countries. Oh, and it'd be nice if they were available as audiobooks. Abridged editions would suit me fine. And preferably read by Charlton Griffin.

Can anyone offer recommendations?

Those who enjoy ChicagoBoyz shouldn't overlook Lex's other web hangout, Albion's Seedlings.



posted by Michael at July 13, 2006


Hi Michael
If you are interested in what India feels like (its what India was in 1987, but its still very good), I would recommend "Chasing the Monsoon" by Alexander Frater ( If you want to know where we come from, John Keay's "India: a history" ( is straight history.
Odd that both are written by foreigners, but they seem to notice things we take for granted. There are good books on India by Indians, but they tend to be more academic. Indian Economy Blog is a good Indian blog, and the people there recently discussed this same question (
Hope this helps.

Posted by: Rajeev on July 13, 2006 12:11 PM

Michael, thanks. Our usually book-crazy readers have, surprisingly, blown off my request.

Maybe the Blowhard commentariat can come up with something for us.

Thanks for the link to Albion's Seedlings, which is of course named after David Hackett Fischer's masterpiece, Albion's Seed. Seedlings is Jim Bennett's blog about his "Anglosphere" concept, which I think think is very valuable, and I have been in a lengthy dialogue with Bennett about it for several years. We decided to move much of that conversation, including other people as well, online with the blog.

A good short introduction to the idea is Jim's Anglosphere Primer. Those who want more might be interested in his book.

Posted by: Lexington Green on July 13, 2006 12:11 PM

Michael, thanks for this post.

The usually book-crazy crowd at ChicagoBoyz has let me down, not suggesting even one book.

Maybe the erudite Blowhards commentariat backbenchers can come up with something.

Posted by: Lexington Green on July 13, 2006 12:16 PM

Sorry about the double post, MB. I thought I'd deleted the first one somehow.

Posted by: Lex on July 13, 2006 12:48 PM

David Frum has a list of books/articles on India over on his website at National Review. I left a request at Sepia Mutiny for suggestions; we'll see if anyone chimes in.

Amardeep Singh's website has lots of good links, too.

Posted by: MD on July 13, 2006 2:19 PM

I've written the Teaching Company a couple of times asking for them to put together a lecture series on India. They do one on China (I hear it's pretty good) -- why not India?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 13, 2006 3:08 PM

Wow, Rajeev, thanks for that link. That is a goldmine of further things to look into.

Still, I'd love to know "who is the David Hackett Fischer of India"? Probably there is not one. I'd love to read an Indian equivalent of Michael Barone's Our Country, a nuts-and-bolts political history of India since independence. I wonder if there is such a thing, in English?

Posted by: Lexington Green on July 13, 2006 7:04 PM

Lexington, I wish I knew. I don't think there is any such person, but let me know if you find one? :-)
I am no expert, but I think one problem is that, unlike China, we don't have (much of) a tradition of written/documentary history. Hence, we are dependent on archaelogy and on the narratives of others (,,, and the further back we go in time, the more controversies there are. Today, Indian historiography is torn between socialists and Hindu revivalists. Its now disputed whether there even was an aryan migration into India, and of course, there is (still) no one who can read the Harrappan script, and so that period is mostly guesswork.
Good luck.

Posted by: Rajeev on July 14, 2006 7:00 AM

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