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Extended Audio Sample India: A Portrait, by Patrick French Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (228 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Patrick French Narrator: Walter Dixon Publisher: Gildan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A monumental biography of the subcontinent from the award-winning author of The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul.

Second only to China in the magnitude of its economic miracle and second to none in its potential to shape the new century, India is fast undergoing one of the most momentous transformations the world has ever seen. In this dazzlingly panoramic book, Patrick French chronicles that epic change, telling human stories to explain a larger national narrative.

French’s inquiry goes to the heart of all the puzzlements that modern India presents: Is this country actually rich or poor? Why has its Muslim population, the second largest on earth, resisted radicalization to such a considerable extent? Why do so many children of Indians who have succeeded in the West want to return “home,” despite never having lived in India? Will India become a natural ally of the West, a geostrategic counterweight to the illiberal rising powers China and Russia? To find the answers, French seeks out an astonishing range of characters: from Maoist revolutionaries to Mafia dons, from chained quarry laborers to self-made billionaires. And he delves into the personal lives of the political elite, including the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, one of the most powerful women in the world.

With a familiarity and insight few Westerners could approach, Patrick French provides a vital corrective to the many outdated notions about a uniquely dynamic and consequential nation. His India is a thrilling revelation.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “French mingles historical analysis with on-the-spot reportage, aiming to capture the country in all its teeming, volatile complexity. The result is rich, engaging and indeed multi-hued.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “A fittingly vigorous and colorful book about what it means to live in India six decades after the nation freed itself from British rule.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A well-informed and well-crafted portrait…[French is] a skilled interviewer who writes with a descriptive flair.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Perceptive…French goes beyond the obvious…India is a burgeoning nation with an inspiring message to the struggling people of the world: It gets better.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Sharply observed…An accomplished portrait of momentous times in a remarkable country…French is a fine reporter, with an appealing fascination for all things Indian, as his book makes clear.”

    Economist (London)

  • “It is a funny, witty book; also dense, gripping, thrilling. What blazes through from each page is French’s absolute and uncondescending engagement with India, Indians and the mindboggling plurality of practices.”

    Times (London)

  • “Fizzing with wit, insight and infectious curiosity…A riveting read…One suspects that French could not pen a boring passage if he tried…A thoroughly enjoyable romp through six momentous decades.”

    Wall Street Journal Aisa

  • “Admirable…There are many Indias, and French sets out, with enthusiasm and empathy, to encounter as many as he can find.”


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ellen | 2/20/2014

    " Decent socio-political review of modern day India with relevant historical background. Agree with other reviews that this book is heavily anecdotal, but I also found that was what made it readable as opposed to a purely factual historical read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Kamal Kannan | 2/15/2014

    " A very ordinary portrait of India...After a long time, i come across this boring book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mark | 2/12/2014

    " this is a well written thorough, intelligent work. i enjoyed french's biography of naipaul and was encouraged to try this based on that experience combined with a long standing desire to get my head around india - as i know so little about it. endeavouring to describe a country is ambitious by any means, where do you start ? .....french addresses his subject in a quasi- biographical way and attempts to conjure - via a mind numbingly vast array of anecdotes, facts, observations and historical perspective - a picture of modern india. however, notwithstanding his accomplished and engaging writing style and the rich and well selected repertoire of experience and scholarship the book was a struggle for me, relentless in its tone and manners it seemed to never end and i grew wearier and wearier and increasingly disillusioned with the book as my journey through it progressed. maybe this is me or maybe french just was not able to control his subject with adequate dexterity to be able to maintain my attention and his need and desire to complete it was not as a a consequence of desire but of duty. perhaps if i had visited india or was visiting india while reading it the book may have been more accesible. so sadly whilst my admiration for french remains firmly intact based on his admirable rigour and intellect my appreciation of modern indian culture remains largely obscured by this text. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Odoublegood | 2/5/2014

    " physically handsome book; loosely organized; anecdotal; of interest if you're interested "

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