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Extended Audio Sample India: A Portrait Audiobook, 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: September 2011 ISBN: 9781596599628
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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With a familiarity and insight few Westerners could approach, Patrick French provides a vital corrective to the many outdated notions about a uniquely dynamic and consequential nation.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.”

    Spectator

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 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 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 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 Odoublegood | 2/5/2014

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Varun | 1/26/2014

    " In a style loosely reminiscent of his India-loving compatriot William Dalrymple, Patrick French discovers what it means to be Indian through a series of interwoven narratives from his experiences as a foreign correspondent here with the Financial Times. French combines the rigour of a journalist with a compassion for humanity and an unerring eye for detail making this a highly enjoyable read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Varun Bhandari | 1/26/2014

    " In a style loosely reminiscent of his India-loving compatriot William Dalrymple, Patrick French discovers what it means to be Indian through a series of interwoven narratives from his experiences as a foreign correspondent here with the Financial Times. French combines the rigour of a journalist with a compassion for humanity and an unerring eye for detail making this a highly enjoyable read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vinod | 1/21/2014

    " i just finished reading this book and the continuity is good between the events that are said.overall i enjoyed this book , development of india is portrayed in a lucid manner. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Siddarth Chowdhary | 1/15/2014

    " Awesome read.....an outsiders view of india based on extensive research & hardwork.....must read....:) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Book | 1/1/2014

    " Read the sample on my ereader. While interesting. I didn't enjoy it enough to purchase. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Giju Abraham | 1/1/2014

    " Interesting account of Indian history and also modern India. Most of the stories and people that he covers are those that were in the news recently. Overall an enjoyable read on India. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Christine | 12/31/2013

    " Whew..to much for me. The first hundred and last hundred pages were interesting but skipped the middle. If you like painfully deep information on India's politics over the last 50 yrs...not my thing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/26/2013

    " Dryer than I expected... but still, hard to make these stories entirely dull. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashok | 11/21/2013

    " if you want to know more India's development s and loop holes as well go through it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Srikanth | 11/16/2013

    " Really liked the book. Got a lot of information out of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Henna Achhpal | 11/3/2013

    " One of the few times I rate a book 5 on 5. Was an absolute delight! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 9/22/2013

    " A fascinating portrait of a vast and diverse nation and its people. Patrick French is an engaging narrator. He paints verbal pictures of a wide range of characters, their lives and experiences. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 8/10/2013

    " Solid overview of contemporary history of India. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christa | 12/29/2011

    " Very interesting book about the society of India. Learned a lot and the style of writing was also interesting. Recommendation for everybody who wants to understand Indian culture a little bit better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 12/24/2011

    " Sometimes, I am still amazed that I thought I didn't like non-fiction. I do! When it is interesting and well-written, like this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 9/8/2011

    " Dryer than I expected... but still, hard to make these stories entirely dull. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Odoublegood | 8/30/2011

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

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rick | 8/3/2011

    " This book is well researched, but I didn't feel like I learned a great deal more about India from reading it. (Then again, I've read a great deal about India in the last couple of years.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phillygrrl | 7/7/2011

    " Could've benefited from a stricter editor, but overall quite insightful and interesting. The first section was my favorite. I laughed a lot more than I expected. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Book | 7/1/2011

    " Read the sample on my ereader. While interesting. I didn't enjoy it enough to purchase. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adrian | 5/28/2011

    " A brief history of modern India, how unique and influential it is, and how it got that way. Astonishing depth of detail and research. It is a multitude and a contradiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Giju Mathew | 1/22/2011

    " Interesting account of Indian history and also modern India. Most of the stories and people that he covers are those that were in the news recently. Overall an enjoyable read on India. "

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About the Author

Patrick French was born in England and studied literature at Edinburgh University. He is the author of Younghusband, Liberty or Death, Tibet, Tibet, and The World Is What It Is, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hawthornden Prize. French is the winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize, and the Somerset Maugham Award. He lives in London.

About the Narrator

Walter Dixon is a broadcast media veteran of more than twenty years’ experience with a background in theater and performing arts and voice work for commercials. After a career in public radio, he is now a full-time narrator with more than fifty audiobooks recorded in genres ranging from religion and politics to children’s stories.