Freedom at Midnight: India’s struggle for independence.
It’s unusual to read a narrative historical account of an important event written by two authors in tandem. More than that, both Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre produced a dual language version of Freedom at Midnight (English and French), published simultaneously, and supported by a team of researchers and copy editors,who made this mammoth task possible.
If your knowledge of the history of India in the year 1947-8 is either generic or, at best, sketchy, this volume will enlighten you with its fascinating detail, brought to life as a piece of narrative history. The protagonists in the drama of India gaining its independence from the British Empire are keenly drawn (Mountbatten, Nehru, Jinnah and, most importantly, Gandhi), the events leading up to independence day reveal the myriad detail of the painful processes, and the tragic consequences of partition (when Pakistan was founded as a Moslem state) leave us in no doubt about the barbarism that lies beneath the surface of religious fanaticism.
The hero of the drama, the man of fewest personal possessions and the smallest physical stature, stands head and shoulders over all his contemporaries. Without Gandhi, his wisdom, and his stubborn resolution to win the day through more than 30 years of non-violent protest, India would be a very different country today.
I found this book compulsive reading. Though more than 600 pages in length, you will be propelled through its pages by a need to stay with the drama, even though you might already know the broad outlines of its conclusion.