“GLIMPSES OF WORLD HISTORY”: NEHRU BOOK

March 6, 2011 at 1:07 am | Posted in Asia, Books, Globalization, History, India | Leave a comment

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Glimpses of World History

Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru (Author)

Indira Gandhi (Foreword)

Product Description

This is the text of Nehru’s history of the world, which was written in the form of letters from prison to his daughter. It offers fascinating insight into the mind and principles of one of India’s greatest leaders.

Product Details:

  • Paperback: 1032 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • January 11, 1990
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195623606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195623604

A brilliant intellectual pursuit that gives a glimpse of Nehru’s intellect, comprehension and culture. In the myriad of Western opinions of human progress, ‘discoveries’ and colonialism, Nehru’s Glimpses stand out for its bold ‘other view’ of history as well as generous and magnanimous acknowledgement of the merits of every civilization. To have the ‘Glimpses’ lost on one, as a mere rambling collection of letters would be tragic. To appreciate the ‘Glimpses’ one must understand the context in which it was written. It was not meant as an exercise to outline history for the world with the global audience in mind. It was merely a father’s restricted dialogue with a daughter outside the prison walls with the intention of instilling pride in her culture and history. And maybe, as an inspiration to India’s freedom fighters to stand up against the might of a hegemonic empire and its propaganda on history and civilization. While the bleakness of his and the Colonial India’s circumstances color his opinions slightly, it does not blind him to historical realities.

That a book with such a narrow, domestic agenda subsequently appealed to the wider audience internationally is probably the finest testament of Nehru’s brilliance.

A very concise yet informative survey of world history from antiquity. This book touches almost everything important in history. Could be used both for recreational reading and also as a primer in world history for a university/school course. The only flaw in the book is that it stops abruptly in 1932. No fault of Mr Nehru, though.

Nehru himself calls the book as “Ramblings”, given the background that book is a compilation of a whole bunch (196) of lengthy letters to his daughter, Indira Priyadarshini, during his stay in various goals across British Raj (which made him rely on memory than references).

His main aim was to introduce his lovely daughter to the world but NOT to be a historian. He starts from the pre-Indus Valley civilization days and ends just before the dawn of WW II in this 971-page book. The book, apart from being journal of events in history, talks about opinions of Nehru on various events with more weight to his favorite ones.

The book with Nehru’s democratic spirit, his scientific and rational approach, his masterly narration with a poetic temper and his control over the language make the book immensely readable.

Product Description

Glimpses of World History, a book written by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1934, is a panoramic sweep of the history of humankind. It is a collection of 196 letters written between 1930-1933, as an introduction to the world history to his daughter Indira, then thirteen years old.

The letters, written in a span of thirty months when Nehru was imprisoned in various places by the British, starts off with one he sends to his daughter on her birthday.

He says he is sad about not being able to send her any “material” gift from prison, so he would try to give her something he can “afford”, a series of letters from his heart. Written from prison, where he had no recourse to reference books or a library but his personal notes, Glimpses of World History contains the history of humankind from 6000 BC to the time of writing of the book. It covers the rise and fall of great empires and civilizations from Greece and Rome to China and West Asia; great figures such as Ashoka and Genghis Khan, Gandhi and Lenin; wars and revolutions, democracies and dictatorships.

He wrote about many cultures throughout the globe in detail because, as he himself said, he didn’t like the way history was taught in schools where it was confined to the history of a single country and that too narrow, and he wanted his daughter Priyadarshini to know why people did what they did. It was possible only through knowing the history of the whole world. The letters are written in informal language, with the contemporary and personal events too are mentioned.

They reflect the world view of Nehru, and his grasp of history. It could be considered as one of the first attempts at historiography from a non-Eurocentric angle. The book is comparable to The Outline of History by H. G. Wells. The New York Times described it as . . . one of the most remarkable books ever written . . . Nehru makes even H. G.Wells seem singularly insular . . . One is awed by the breadth of Nehru’s culture.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 1155 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • March 30, 2004
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143031058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143031055

Nehru wrote the book while in prison with the idea that it is what he would have imparted to his daughter Indira (Gandhi) were he at home with her.

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