Short Book Review: Farthest Field: An Indian Story of Second World War by Raghu Karnad
SBR: Farthest Field talks about Indians in second world war, an aspect of the history that is usually ignored within as well as outside India. Because in India, Indians fighting the war for the British doesn’t fit the national narrative. And outside India, the exploitation of natives in the European war is an uncomfortable subject. But Indians comprised the largest volunteer army in the second world war and the people involved need to be talked about.
My only gripe is an odd mixture of genres in the book. The author set out to write a personal history, for which he didn’t have enough material. He could have written a non-fiction about the role of Indians in the war (which is what the book eventually reads like, but less comprehensive because the author is following his character and not history). A historical fiction on the subject would also have been great.
Of course, it is the author’s prerogative what he chooses to write. But I would love to see a historical fiction on this background. Amitav Ghosh’ The Glass Palace includes this period and this aspect of Indian history, but only on the Eastern front of the war. This book covers Eastern as well as Western fronts.
To read or not to read: Yes because it deals with a most interesting aspect of Indian history.