It is 14 years since John Keay wrote India: A History, still the single best volume on the subject. Now he gives us Midnight’s Descendants, which is much more than just a coda to its benchmark predecessor. Themed around the Great Partition of 1947 and its effects, the book covers the interrelated histories of five South Asian states – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal – with cameo appearances from China, Afghanistan, Sikkim and Bhutan.
Midnight’s Descendants – its title nods to Salman Rushdie’s novel set around India’s independence – is the first general contemporary history of the region and displays all Keay’s trademark clarity and command of his material as he propels us through the complex, braided narrative. We are given a constant sense