The plunder of Somanatha by Mahmud of Ghazni was supposed to be a watershed moment in Indian history. It is usually summed up as the start of Islamic rule in India and the oppression of majority Hindus.

Romila Thapar investigates if that is the case. She concludes that is not the case and to do so she uses sources from both sides ie the Ghaznavid and local sources like from the Rashtrakutas, the priest family of Somanatha etc. Some of the reasons provided by her include that Islam was already co-existing with Hinduism for quite some time. The attack of Somanatha by the Mahmud of Ghazni was a one-off event and he had no plans of establishing a caliphate in India as claimed. One of the reasons he attacked Somanatha was to destroy the port (the temple being an afterthought) to protect horse export from his kingdom. A host of other reasons are provided and she exhorts the reader to view these events in the context of that particular age and not extrapolate them with later or current events.

Early India From the Origins to 1300AD

Mon 27 February 2017 by Thejaswi Puthraya

When one generally talks of Indian history, we immediately assume the story of Kings, wars, their golden administration and vilification of the other neighbouring kingdoms. But Romila Thapar's "Early India from the Origins to 1300AD" is a different kind of a history book.

It emphasises little on kings and stories …

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Annihilation of Caste

Sat 28 January 2017 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Annihilation of Caste was supposed to be the last speech to have been delivered by Dr. B.R Ambedkar before he gave up Hinduism and converted to Buddhism. The speech was to have been delivered before an anti-caste organization in Lahore in the 1930s. But the anti-caste group found Ambedkar's …

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Nature's Spokesman

Sat 21 January 2017 by Thejaswi Puthraya

M.Krishnan was amongst India's earliest nature conservationist and policy expert. This book is a collection of short stories on his tryst with nature's creations.

Some of the stories are everyday stories like the author's encounter with a snake in his backyard or with common birds like crows. Others being …

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The Price of Inequality

Mon 16 January 2017 by Thejaswi Puthraya

One of the reasons for the Arab Spring protests in 2010 and the subsequent Occupy movement in the 2012 was the symptom of globalization, rampant inequality.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize awarded economist and the author of this book discusses the causes of inequality and the ways to fix it …

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Alexander the Great

Thu 29 December 2016 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Alexander built one of the largest empires in the shortest time and at a young age. But how did he manage this? Was he blessed with unmatchable valour or did he rule through an iron fist? There were a lot of such questions in my mind before I started reading …

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Sun 27 November 2016 by Thejaswi Puthraya

"Waves" is a collection of short-stories written in Tamil by Sundara Ramaswamy (Su.Ra) and translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom.

These breezy stories are mostly set in a middle-class Tamil Brahmin households some time in the 1960-70s.

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No Logo

Tue 22 November 2016 by Thejaswi Puthraya

A study asked kids under the age of 12 from an impoverished African country to name their favourite logo. McDonald's ended up very high on that list. This in a country that didn't have a single McDonald store! That's branding for you.

"No Logo" dissects brands for you but not …

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Fri 28 October 2016 by Thejaswi Puthraya

George Smiley has retired but the events that brought about his abrupt retirement still plague him. He runs into a former colleague with information that he suspected for long, the existence of a mole amongst the intelligence sleuths. Smiley is requested to investigate this discreetly and expose the spy.

After …

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The End of Food

Mon 03 October 2016 by Thejaswi Puthraya

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of food? Maybe well garnished food at a fancy restaurant or maybe something yum cooked by you mom or spouse? But food has a history and a story to tell. Paul Roberts documents it's story in "The End …

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