Title : Freedom at Midnight
Authors : Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
Genre : Non-Fiction ; History ; Modern India ; Indian Independence
Pages : 563
The end of an empire. The birth of two nations.
Seventy years ago, at midnight on August 14, 1947, the Union Jack began its final journey down the flagstaff of Viceroy’s House, New Delhi. A fifth of humanity claimed their independence from the greatest empire history has ever seen—but the price of freedom was high, as a nation erupted into riots and bloodshed, partition and war.
Freedom at Midnight is the true story of the events surrounding Indian independence, beginning with the appointment of Lord Mountbatten of Burma as the last Viceroy of British India, and ending with the assassination and funeral of Mahatma Gandhi. The book was an international bestseller and achieved enormous acclaim in the United States, Italy, Spain, and France.
Freedom at Midnight by Collins and Lapierre is a book about the Independence of India and Pakistan. The Story of Indian Independence is such a fascinating story, how the Indians fought the British courageously and got their Independence. There are lot of movies about the Indian Independence and the brave freedom fighters of India. But the authenticity of it is unknown, whereas in this book the authors had done a great deal of research and only based upon authentic materials they have come up with this book.
As an Indian myself, I had heard a plethora of stories about Independence right from the childhood and I had different take on Independence altogether which would be very similar to that of most of the Indians here. I had only known about the good and proud parts of the Independence. I was totally unaware of the painfully and heart-ripping things that the country and it’s people has to undergo. By that I mean the pain endured by people of Punjab and Bengal, the problems faced by the migrants, the communal violence and stuffs. With the help of this book I got an opportunity to learn a lot of things about my country.
This book solely focuses on the transfer of power from the British Empire to the Indians and the by product of Independence – The Painful Partition. All this while I have been seeing the partition of India from a different point of view. The Muslims who wanted a separate Muslim state went to the newly formed Pakistan and the people who wanted to be in a secular state remained in India or came to India, as simple as that. I had completely failed to see the emotional turmoil the people of Punjab has to endure. The authors have spoken about the Partition from an emotional perspective of a group of people who have been living as brothers and fought the British together for their freedom has to go separate ways after the Independence. All these were written from real-life incidents. It was really heart-wrenching and will shatter the readers very deeply.
Though it has been widely spoken by many Indians that the British Empire exploited the resources of India and other such colonial countries, it cannot be denied how responsible they were while transferring the power back to the native people. Because, they could’ve simply left the country without forming a proper assembly or a constitution, leaving behind all their responsibility to the newly formed nations but they didn’t do so and I completely admire Britishers for it. Each and every employee of the crown was so very responsible during the period of Independence.
The background work that took place before the independence in the British Empire was also told elaborately. How Mountbatten have been appointed, the British Politics, all these kind of inside information about the crown made it easier to understand their mentality and the things that they were going through during the Independence. And it was written absolutely wonderful and emotional. The authors have attached emotional factors into each and every page of this book by adding real-life experiences of the people of that period. And that’s the unique and successful factor about this book.
The riot that followed, how Lord Mountbatten helped at the time of crises on the insistence of Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhai Patel even after giving Independence to India and Pakistan was something I only have heard from word of mouth. But only after reading this book I came to believe it completely. And this made me respect Mountbatten a lot. And also Gandhi’s role in maintaining the peace between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs during the aftermath of partition was commendable. Only Gandhi could’ve achieved that kind of peace. Even though I have some difference with the ideology of Gandhi, one cannot deny his efficiency in bringing out the peace at worst of situations.
The book majorly focuses on two men who were behind the Independence, Mountbatten and Mahatma Gandhi, as I told before. Their life, their contrast way of working, their thought process and the respect they both have for each other was written down spectacularly. This book actually showcased the actually potential of Mahatma Gandhi. The authors have also pointed out the ground works done by the assassins of Mahatma Gandhi and the reasons and motive behind his assassination. This is a very controversial topic and these author have written it honestly and bravely. The death of Gandhi was really very hurtful. This book brought many incidents which have been buried deeply behind the pages of history into light.
I heard many calling this book as colonial history, as it was written in favor of British more than Indians but I couldn’t see it that way. Because the authors have perfectly struck a balance between both of them, the book wasn’t in favor of anybody, it was balanced and the history was written as it was. It wasn’t one sided or something, in fact it was multi-dimensional. If it was one sided the author duo wouldn’t have exhibited the flaws in the Radcliff Line, they wouldn’t have written about Mahatma Gandhi so highly.
The book was written systematically from the real-life incidents. Though it’s a history and a non-fiction, the authors have written it down so engagingly like a story with their casual writing style. And as I have been telling it more often, it was very emotional and that’s what made this book better than any other in this niche. This helped the readers to read the book without getting bored. I really admired the Mountbattens and Jawaharlal Nehru. At the end of the book I became a fan of these people.
The writing style was very casual but it will take quite sometime to get into the book but once you are into it, you cannot stop reading it.
This book changed all my pre-received perceptions, ideas and thoughts about the Indian Independence and the Partition which I have been thinking was the truth all this time. And I’m so glad to have read it. This book enticed my appetite to read more history about the formation Modern India and the Leaders of that time. It was a soul-stirring book.
Freedom at Midnight was suggested to me by my father. It is one of his favorite books from his youths and we have been searching for this book for a very long time. This book wasn’t available anywhere in India and so I asked my mother and sister to buy me one from the United States and even this book wasn’t available there. And only then I came to know it was a highly controversial book.
When I had lost all hopes of finding this book, like a magic I found it in an Open Public Library in my City where they have this “Lend one book & Take one Book” Policy! That’s how I got this book and that was one of the best days of my life. And I still remember it vividly.
My rating for this book would be 5 out of 5 stars
I would recommend this book to all the Indians and Pakistanis to know about our shared emotional history. It is a must read book. This will change everything!
Unlike me you guys are lucky enough to buy this book, it’s available on amazon right now but I think it’s a revised version and I’m not sure how much information have been deduced from it. But still here is the link.
I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did. On this Independence Day learn about our History which haven’t been told openly very often.
Happy Reading Folks!!!
On this Independence Day know the true emotions of your independence by reading “Freedom At Midnight” by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre!!Tweet