Books on Indian History – A list of 21 Must-Read Books

India is a land with a rich cultural heritage. It is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Its history, right from ancient times, has been rich and vibrant with many vital lessons for the world and its people. Not only is the history rich, but it is vast too. Books on history can be a great way to learn about this country and its past. However, there cannot be one single book that can cover all aspects. There are several books which cover different aspects of Indian history.

We have Picked Up 21 Best Indian History Books –

1. Unknown Civilization of Prehistoric India by Subhashis Das

This book focuses on prehistoric India to bust the myth that all megaliths are burials. It finds out that this isn’t true. It delves into the knowledge of astronomy and mathematics as prevalent in India at that time. It focuses on a few megaliths across the country, like Chano. Punkri, Burwadih and Nilurallu.

2. Prehistoric India: Its Place in the World’s Cultures by Panchanan Mitra

This book talks about the 5000-year-old history of India, focusing on the development of race and culture in Prehistoric times.

3. Ancient India by RC Majumdar

The book is a comprehensive and interesting account of the ancient history of India. It touches upon the religious, literary and cultural aspects of Ancient India and its people. It also discusses the political and administrative conditions prevalent during those times.

4. Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer

This illustrated book presents a fascinating account of the Indus Valley Civilization. It talks about several important topics related to the civilization like the Indus religion, writing system, sculpture and architecture. The book also touches upon the administrative and trade systems of the cities. It also talks about the daily life of the people living in those cities.

5. A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations by Noboru Karashima

This is a. book with a clear focus on South India, especially with respect to its sociocultural development. It covers a wide range of topics, including the origin and creation of the ancient kingdoms and the development of agriculture in ancient India.

6. Chandragupta Maurya and His Times by Radhakumud Mookherji

This book is about the life and times of India’s first historical emperor, Chandragupta Maurya. It covers many aspects of his times, including the king, his ministers, officers, the justice system, the army and its management. It gives a picture of the Indian civilization in the early fourth century. The book draws material from the classical works in Sanskrit, Buddhist and Jaina texts and the inscriptions of Ashoka.

7. A History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the history of medieval India.

It covers the thousand-year period between the eighth and the eighteenth century.

It deals with the histories of many known and lesser-known kingdoms. Kingdoms included are the Cholas, Rajputs, Turks, Vijayanagara, Bahmanis, Mughals, Marathas etc.

8. The Age of Wrath: A History of the Delhi Sultanate by Abraham Early

The time from 1206 to 1526 was a time of plundering kings, fierce dynasties and aggressive religious impositions. This was the period of the Delhi Sultanate, an age of violence and chaos.

In this book, the author talks about this period and the many kings who ruled at that time. He also discusses the political, social and cultural developments during this time.

9. A History of the Sikhs, Volume 1 – 1469-1839 by Khushwant Singh

This book by Khushwant Singh covers the social, religious and political factors which led to the formation of the Sikh faith in the fifteenth century. It also talks about the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib and draws upon the original Persian, Gurmukhi and English documents. It touches upon the factors responsible for transforming the Sikhs from a pacifist sect to a militant group. It also discusses the relationship between the Sikhs, the Mughals, and the Afghans.

It narrates the story of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, under whom the power of the Sikhs got consolidated.

10. The Empire of the Great Mughals by Annemarie Schimmel

This book provides a comprehensive history of the Mughal period. The book begins with a historical review and gives a detailed picture of life in the Mughal court. It describes the Mughals’ political, military and economic rise, power, glory and gradual collapse. It also talks about the rise of art, literature and culture during this period.

11. South India Under the Cholas by Y. Subbarayalu

This book narrates the history of medieval South India under the rule of the Cholas. It talks about the structure and character of the state, society and economy and discusses the revenue system, property rights and relations between landowners, cultivators and slaves.

12. From Plassey To Partition: A History Of Modern India by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay

This book on modern history begins with the disintegration and downfall of the Mughal empire and also narrates the parallel rise of the British empire in the Indian subcontinent.

It gives a detailed account of India’s freedom struggle along with the cultural and social changes brought in by the foreign rulers. It touches upon the rise of various freedom fighters and talks of the Partition that led to the creation of India and Pakistan.

13. History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra

This is a book on the history of British rule in India. It coincides with the modern history of India but is not a political narrative of British rule, the freedom struggle and Independence.

Instead, this book explains the factors that allowed the British to rule over India for such a long time. It deals with modern India’s economic, religious, and social history.

14. An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor

In this book, Shashi Tharoor talks about how much damage the British rule caused to India. The book is written in a simple but witty manner. It has been thoroughly researched and demolishes arguments about the benefits of British rule lie democracy, the rule of law and railways.

15. The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

The Last Mughal is a revealing historical book which narrates the history of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor. It provides an Indian perspective on the fall of Delhi during the Sepoy mutiny and tells the stories of many individuals of that time who met tragic ends.

William Dalrymple draws his research from unexamined Urdu and Persian manuscripts. These include eyewitness accounts, records of the Delhi court, police and administration during the siege.

16. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra

This book gives a detailed history of the Indian independence movement. It includes details of the freedom struggle of the country as a whole. 

 The book begins with the first war of Independence, narrating the history of Mangal Pandey’s mutiny and the gallant efforts of Rani Laxmi Bai. The book also discusses Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation and the civil disobedience movements. Finally, it gives a detailed description of Subash Chandra Bose’s role in the freedom struggle.

17. The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan

In this book, Yasmin Khan gives a historical account of the Partition of India. He examines the context and decisions which led to this event and also analyses the execution and aftermath of Partition. Finally, he draws attention to the haste and recklessness with which the Partition was executed, the horrors of which can still be felt.

The book highlights the tragic human cost and shows why the effects of Partition resound even now. It focuses on the haste and recklessness with which it was completed and the damaging legacy that it left behind.

18. India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha

Ramchandra Guha’s India After Gandhi is a detailed history of independent India.

The book narrates the history of the various Prime Ministers of India and mainly discusses the lives of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

It also discusses many lesser-known Indians.

19. Himalayan Blunder: The Curtain-Raiser to the Sino-Indian War of 1962 by JP Dalvi

This book gives the history of the 1962 Indo-China war, Brigadier J. P. Dalvi, who fought in the war, is the author of this book.

Dalvi talks about the indifference and incompetence of those at the helm of India’s political affairs, which led to the sacrifice of hundreds of valuable lives. It gives a heart-rending account of the massacre of the Indian soldiers.

Among all the books based on this subject, this one is of the most striking and authentic ones.

Also Read: Ruskin Bond Famous Books: 21 of His Best Reads

20. The Emergency: A Personal History by Coomi Kapoor

This book is an eyewitness account of the dark days of the Emergency period (1975-77). The author, Coomi Kapoor, was a young journalist at the time. She experienced the full fury of the establishment, and this book is her account.

During this period, Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi unleashed a reign of terror. Forced sterilizations, brutal evictions and unjustified imprisonments were daily norms.

This book recreates the drama, horror and heroism of those troubled times.

21. The Saffron Tide – The Rise of the BJP by Kingshuk Nag

In this book, Kingshuk Nag traces the history of the BJP and its rise. It is a book that will particularly, interest readers of modern Indian history and political history. It is a comprehensive, unbiased and timely biography of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No Comments Yet.