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Book Reviews

“The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan,” by Yasmin Khan; Yale University Press; $30; $250 pages.

Scores of books have been written about the 1947 partition of India, which carved the Muslim state of Pakistan, but few authors have addressed the hastiness with which the British folded up their tent.

A professor at the University of London, Khan details quite vividly how events unfolded before, during and after the partition. She peeks into the minds of everyday folks such as shopkeepers, policemen and soldiers as the tragedy unfolds. “There was nothing inevitable or pre-planned about the way that Partition unfolded,” writes Khan about the shoddy implementation of the plan.

Indeed, the book should prove to be an invaluable lesson to today’s leaders who clamor for regime change throughout the world but disregard the dangers and repercussions such transitions can spur.

“Indian Summer: The Secret history of the End of an Empire,” by Alex Von Tunzelmann; Henry Holt and Co.; $30; 416 pages.

Here’s another book on the partition but with a different approach. A debut book for the author who also lives in London, “Indian Summer” focuses on Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife, Edwina, the last viceroy and vicerine of India. The book delves into tense negotiations the cousin of the King of England had with Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah. Of course, quite a few pages are devoted to the potentially disastrous love affair between Edwina and Nehru.

Von Tunzelmann takes a sharp look at the role of the Western world in India’s independence, specifically its treatment of the Muslim cause and the creation of Pakistan, which sparked one of today’s most volatile and long-lasting conflicts.

“The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell phone: Reflections on India, the Emerging 21st-century Power,” by Shashi Tharoor; Arcade Publishing; $27.50; 498 pages.

The cover catches your attention. And that’s pretty much where the buck stops with this book by the former undersecretary general of the United Nations. Divided into six parts, “Ideas of Indianness,” “India at work and at Play,” “Indians who made my India,” “Experiences of India,” “The Transformation of India” and “An A to Z of being Indian” appears to be a mishmash of past essays mixed in with some new topics.

We have been huge fans of Tharoor whose previous books such as “Nehru: The Invention of India,” “India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond” and “Riot” were a joy to read. Sorry can’t say the same about this hodgepodge of a book, if it can be called so.

“An Immigrant Celebrates America: Reflections on America through the Fresh Eye of an Immigrant,” by Mel Ramaswamy; University of Indianapolis Press; $16.95; 223 pages.

In this case, the title says it all. In mostly one-page essays, the author takes a stab at life in the United States during the last 25 years. Topics include vegetarianism, mufflers, lunch break, payday, incentives, VCR shopping, ratings, memory and there also is a column on columns!

If you are interested in reading a simple and straightforward account of varying life experiences, you will enjoy the book. We would have liked to see some humor and light-hearted reading. Maybe Ramaswamy will oblige us next time. By the way, the book is available at, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, University of Indianapolis Press or e-mail

“Small bites big nights,” by Govind Armstrong; Clarkson Potter/Publishers; $30; 256 pages.

Our South Florida readers may be familiar with the Table 8 restaurant in Miami Beach. The eatery is owned by the author, who was named after Lord Krishna by his mother, Thelma, the daughter of an Indian immigrant.

You won’t find any Indian recipes in this debut cookbook by Armstrong, who believes that small bites encourage people to be more adventurous, share food and enjoy the different flavors and textures. But the expert chef puts together a menu of small, sophisticated dishes for you and then pairs them with a perfect cocktail. What more can you ask for?

Some of the innovative dishes are grilled chicken thighs with wood-roasted gazpacho and Avocado Salsa, barbecued quail with grilled corn salsa, tender bean salad and prosciutto.

And if you are in the Miami Beach area, check out Table 8 at 1458 Ocean Drive, (305) 695-4114.

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