We have all studied history during childhood in the Social Textbooks. But rarely we study any history book that is enough to make us aware of all the happenings of India since time immemorial. Below is the list of such 20 books that puts emphasis on a great 5000-year-old heritage of India in a better way and provide the most vivid understanding of Indian history books.
Popular Indian History Books
- Ancient India by R.C. Majumdar
- Early India: From the origins to AD 1300
- A History of Medieval India
- The Great Mutiny: India 1857 by Christopher Hibbert
- The Last Mughal: The Fall of Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 by William Dalrymple
- India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
- Discovery of India By Jawaharlal Nehru
- Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
- History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra
- The Wonder That was India By A L Basham
- India: A History by John Keay
- The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan
- The story of my Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
- India After Gandhi: The History of World’s Largest Democracy by Ramchandra Guha
- The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
- Makers of Modern India by Ramchandra Guha
- From plassey to partition: A History of Modern India by Shekar Bandyopadhyay
- India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age by Gurcharan Das
- India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra
- The Story of India By Michael Wood
Books on Indian History
1. Ancient India by R.C. Majumdar
This book is a compendious, understandable and compelling portrait of Ancient History and Civilization in India from point of historical view. This comprehensive book is split into three broad divisions of cultural development that persisted during the Ancient India:
(1) Overview of prehistoric age till 600 B.C.,
(2) From 600 B.C. to 300 A.D.,
(3) From 300 A.D. to 1200 A.D.
The work puts emphasis on the cultural, economic, political, religious conditions of the country, and the colonization schemes of emperors in the Far East. More focus it put on the literary aspects of Ancient India.
2. Early India: From the origins to AD 1300
This book is written by Romila Thapar in which she provided a comprehensive description of Indian history starting from the Aryan culture to the establishment of Mughals. Thapar uncovers India’s evolution along with the facts on Indus Civilization, the origination of Cholas, Guptas and Mauryas, dynasties, and the formation of epics like Mahabharata and the Ramayana; and the initiation of regional cultures. It explores the subjects of art, astronomy, class, erotica and marriage. The complete book enhances a vivid picture of India. Above all, the work depicts the rich pattern of distinct beliefs, kingdoms, landscapes, and languages.
3. A History of Medieval India
Satish Chandra’s History of Medieval India gives a distinct picture of the history of the Indian subcontinent over the 1000-year period between the 8th and the 18th century. These great historical moments are strung together to evolve into present day India. The book details about the series of events and the reigns that governed various parts of the country in very easy to understand language and co-relates the same.
The work involves invading armies, religious movements, and the vicissitudes of the changing economic, cultural and political scenarios. To narrate the history of a land involving the geographical dimensions and political divisions of the India is itself an alarming task. Satish Chandra puts forth this difficult mission in a worth-reading way.
4. The Great Mutiny: India 1857 by Christopher Hibbert
The Great Indian Mutiny is a beautifully researched and scripted history of the great Indian during the revolt of 1857 by Christopher Hibbert, one of the greatest historians. The book was first published in 1978 and re-issued again in the 2002 paperback edition.
5. The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 by William Dalrymple
The Last Mughal is scripted by historian and travel writer William Dalrymple. In this book, he talks about a diverse and rich culture that prevailed during the reign of Bahadur shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor. This book makes broad emphasis on everything about the fall of Delhi. It includes individual stories along with every situation surrounded under the rule of the last emperor. It throws light on the impact the reign had on the country – both and culturally and politically. William’s writing style makes this book a definite read.
Indian History Books to know facts about Indian Independence
6. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
This is the first book with diverse strands of the epic struggle made both individually and collectively and put forward in a new narrative and analytical framework. Based on oral and other primary sources and years of research, the authors take the reader through every step of the independence struggle from the abortive Revolt of 1857 to the final victory of 1947. More important while incorporating existing historiographical advances, the book evolves a new and lucid view of the history of the period which will endure.
7. Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru
Written by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, during his stay in prison (1942-1946), this book provides a broad canvas on the Euro-centric world view and enhances the most poetic narration of Indian history starting from the Indus valley civilization to India’s freedom movement.
The book gives a detailed account of the period ranging from Aryans to the formation of the British Empire. This book is a must give snapshot to build knowledge on India’s incredible past. It briefly presents Nehru’s perspective of India and is definitely a worth noting.
8. Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
This book written by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins predominantly makes a note on India’s freedom movement during 1946 and 1948. The explanation of the sequence of events during this period are worth mentioning in stating that this book is a historical masterpiece. The authors made their extensive research with incredible details. The prime focus is on the last reign of British India, the partition of India and Pakistan, and the bloodshed that followed.
It is a must in the list of anyone who wants to explore the know-about of partition and the bloodshed that followed.
9. History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra
History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra is one of the popular books. This book maps the journey to the path of colonial India beginning from the 18th century to the 20th century. It uncovers the timeline of British rule and its rich coincidence with the modern Indian history.
It broadly makes an emphasis on hurdles Indians have undergone to achieve freedom from British and the struggles they faced during the course.
10. The Wonder That Was India by A L Basham
This popular work was written by Arthur Llewellyn Basham. The book covers the history of the period of ancient India and the arrival of the Muslims. It provides clear information on Harappan and Mohenjodaro culture along with Aryan invasion theory. This book is a must-read to enhance knowledge on art, literature, music, politics, religion, society, from India’s perspective. However, it is mainly for those readers who are fascinated with ancient history.
Indian History Books
11. India: A history by John Keay
John Keay, an English journalist and specialized historical writer, inscribed this book with a keen focus on India’s colonisation and scrutiny by Europeans. In this book, John puts forth an unbiased perspective of Indian history starting from Harappa, Mohenjodaro and the Indus Valley civilizations to the present modern India.
John has succeeded in synthesizing a wide variety of historical sources and blending the insights from variant sources and put them all together to present 5000-year-old history. The book is a wonderful read with an organized history of the Indian sub-continent in 600 odd pages.
12. The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan
This book by Yasmin Khan explores the context and characteristics that lead to partition, including internal politics and how ordinary lives were affected in the course. Though it released in 2007, it provided a fresh point of view regarding the partition.
The author exposes the widespread results to what Partition lead to influence the occupants. The book is a clever and timely portray of Partition, its swiftness and unheading with which it was accomplished, and the breaking legacy it left.
13. The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the greatest inspiring figures of time has scripted a classic autobiography in which he narrates the story of his life and explains the way he developed his notion of active nonviolent movement, which set in motion the Indian struggle for independence and other nonviolent numerous scuffles of the 20th century.
14. India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha
This perfect book by Ramachandra Guha speaks about India’s history after attaining independence and makes a note on the evolution of Modern India. This comprehensive book puts focus on everything regarding the world’s largest democracy and the struggles it underwent post almost a century of colonization including the effects of war and globalization. A detailed account of events that laid the foundation of India has been thoroughly researched and well presented. The Indian edition of the book was published on 14th August 2008.
15. The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
Written by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, this book is essentially a series of poignant 16 essays narrating India’s political heritage, identity, social and economic disparities and its current position in the world today. India’s history and how that history has influenced and shaped its cultural identity.
Top Rated Books for Indian History
16. Makers of Modern India by Ramachandra Guha
Modern India forms the greatest democracy of the world possessing around one-sixth of all humankind. This distinctive and varied democratic regime makes India as one of the political miracles in the world. Out of the speeches by many thinker-activities of India since time, Ramachandra Guha structured the first major anthology of Indian thoughts in social and political. This book is the collection of the work of India’s foremost political generators and feminist thinkers, whose achievements have been inaccessible till now.
17. From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
The narration of the book has been narrated thematically about the emergence of India as a nation. It points a wide and often complicated view of historical happenings, its key players and the involved context that provides an overview of the formation of a nation through assimilation, non-violence, rejection and struggle.
18. India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age by Gurcharan Das
Present day India is a huge democratic nation and on its way to overcoming decades of prevailing poverty. The rise of the nation can be termed as one of the inspiring stories of the late 20th century. This book by Gurcharan Das proffers a brief overview of the economic history of India since independence.
Das mentions the various sweeping reforms that paved the path for exceptional growth of the nation. Fervent, erudite, and exceptionally readable, India Unbound is a must-read book on the global economy and its future.
19. India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra
This book is a rigorous and clear preface to contemporary India. This book explores the challenges and achievements India has experienced under the light of its colonial bequest and century-long struggle. This new edition inscribes an overview of the formation of Constitution, economic and political agenda of the days and basics of foreign policy in the new millennium. The book also mentions the objective assessments of renowned freedom fighters of the nation.
20. The Story of India by Michael Wood
In this extraordinary book, Michael Wood presents a worth-remembering narration of the 10,000-year old Indian history. Now, as India emerging as a global leader, Michael makes an emphasis on the traces of roots of India’s incredible riches from the past.
This original survey professes clear portraits of India’s cultures, customs and traditions along with information of history’s greatest figures: the Ashoka, the Akbar, the Buddha, Gandhi, and Nehru. It explores Indian ideas and inventions that enabled in the clear shaping of Indian history and shows some of prominent India’s conclusions about the civilization of its own times.
This book definitely broadcasts a magical mixture with an unforgettable portrait of India, past, present – and future.