A "fast-moving and highly readable account" of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and its lasting legacy in today's geopolitical tensions (The New York Times).
An NPR and Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
Nobody expected the events of 1947 in Southeast Asia to be so bloody. The liberation of India and the birth of Pakistan were supposed to realize the dreams of Muslims and Hindus who had been ruled by the British for centuries. Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi's protégé and the political leader of India, believed Indians were an inherently nonviolent, peaceful people. Pakistan's founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was a secular lawyer, not a firebrand.
In August 1946, exactly a year before Independence, Calcutta erupted in street-gang fighting. A cycle of riots—targeting Hindus, then Muslims, then Sikhs—spiraled out of control. As the summer of 1947 approached, all three groups were arming themselves as the British rushed to evacuate. Some of the most brutal and widespread ethnic cleansing in modern history erupted on both sides of the new border, searing a divide between India and Pakistan that remains a root cause of many evils. From jihadi terrorism to nuclear proliferation, the searing tale told in Midnight's Furies explains all too many of the headlines we read today.