Professor Gopal’s new volume, whose predecessor won high praise, begins with the coming of independence and covers the earlier and more rewarding half of Nehru’s long period in office. He has had the advantage of access to Nehru’s private papers, a very rich storehouse; official records remain closed. It is a biography that he is writing, but, to quote his preface, ‘the book spreads out to become, in a sense, the history of the first years of free India’. As such it is somewhat selective. It has to follow the main lines of Nehru’s involvements, but the writer’s own predilections (he was formerly the foreign ministry’s historical expert) would seem to be more for Indian politics and the international sphere, than for the economic and social realms whose primary importance Nehru never forgot. We hear much more of embassies than of trade unions, and labour conditions make scarcely any appearance, the peasantry little more.
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I have just spent a wonderful few minutes re-reading the best book review of the year in my opinion. It's by Piers Brendon in September's issue of @Lit_Review. Beautifully captioned as 'Jack the Lad', Brendon takes Fredrik Logevall's JFK: Vol.I apart! It's a laugh a minute. Ouch!
'Perhaps the real modern polymaths are the hidden ones who do not themselves grab the limelight but have the expertise to bring together different fields of knowledge: librarians, teachers, editors of literary journals…'
Jan Morris, who died last week, was a much-loved contributor to our pages. In 2017, she wrote a characteristically witty article about the different winds, their various personalities and how they had touched her life: https://literaryreview.co.uk/let-it-blow.