I have been looking for a book about Indian history. Recently I came across this answer, which suggested reading India: A History by John Keay. I wanted to know whether it is historical and accurate. Or is there any thesis put forth and all Indian history is viewed from that angle?

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    +1 because this book is currently sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read.
    – two sheds
    Feb 10, 2015 at 1:14
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    @twosheds You can go ahead and read the book. I did, and I would certainly recommend it. :-)
    – taninamdar
    Mar 25, 2015 at 16:34

3 Answers 3


I decided to read the book anyway, after waiting for someone to answer the question. I understand this is not a place to review books, but here are my two cents.

The narrative is, in my opinion, as unbiased as it can get. While talking about unclear parts of Indian history like Aryan invasion / migration / indigenous Aryans, he explains pros and cons of each theory before explaining the generally accepted theory. Also, the narration of post-independence politics (intra-national or international) politics seems objective. As I hoped it to be, it doesn't discredit India from its achievements, nor does it over-glorify them. A must-read for anyone who is interested in Indian history.

  • Upvoted, because the question needed an acceptable answer. I'm always a bit uncomfortable answering and accepting on my own question, but some times it needs to be done.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 25, 2015 at 20:56
  • +1. We need to talk about history rather than biased opinions.
    – Rajib
    Mar 26, 2015 at 13:32

This is a partial answer relating to the book's unbiased status.

No. The book is not unbiased. The book's biases may be historiographically justifiable, but, necessarily, the book is not unbiased. Bias is as unremovable from texts as it is from woven fabric: the fabric of texts produces a bias.

Sources: historiographical theory of bias in texts, and the nature of texts as bias.

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    I understand what you mean. But what I wanted to ask is whether the bias is "too much". For example, I am aware two very biased narratives of Indian history — one that claims India was essentially a barbarian area before colonization, and another which claims Indian wars used nuclear weapons thousands of years earlier. So, it's fine if there are a few biased statements here and there, but is it objective in general? I hope this makes sense.
    – taninamdar
    Feb 10, 2015 at 3:37
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    Neither of the types of account you list are "history," the first once was, the second never has been. Feb 10, 2015 at 10:03
  • @SamuelRussell Did you mean to link in sources?
    – CGCampbell
    Feb 10, 2015 at 15:57

Your question is the rare one that no one even bothers to ask. From the beginning of the creation of Indian history, bias has played an important role. The funny thing is, the history of India being taught in schools are created by the western people of British East India Company. The purpose of creating biased Indian history is to strengthen their rule over then India. That's how the "Aryan Invasion Theory" born. Another thing was the Christianity that influenced those historians. They set the chronology of Indian historical events according to the bible. According to bible, the creation began 4004 BC. Hence whatever historical events occurred were pushed around 2000 BC - 1500 BC and so on. You take Max Muller, H. M. Elliot, Vincent Smith, W. W. Hunter or any other, you will find the same biased view.

After the independence, Indian history department was completely filled with communists who hated everything that belonged to ancient India. As a result, they followed the earlier western historians and added more biased version while creating history books for schools, colleges and universities. Romila Thapar, Sathish Chandra, Ram Sharan Sharma are such kind of Indian historians. However, there were some historians who tried to discover the truth but were either ignored or silenced. If you want to know how they twisted Indian history, read Edi Charitra or visit this link


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    This does not answer the question. Don't attack persons- you can refute their views. Don't express hatred for communists/rightists/whatever. Back your views with evidence. And let's not deny that the Bhrahmins killed Buddhism, the dominant religion for more than 2000 years. True, Muslim invaders destroyed temples. But then these temples were usurped by Brahmins from the Buddhists. Archaeology says so. Not the communists.
    – Rajib
    Feb 20, 2015 at 6:22
  • I'm not attacking anyone. I'm just putting the facts. I'm not spreading hatredness here. When I said Indian history was biased, I'd to explain why it was, how it was done and who did it. I just can't say the history was biased. So what is wrong if I tell the facts? Do you want evidence? Ok, read these books - "Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them", "Indian Muslims: Who are they", and "The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims". There are many but not in English or Hindi. "Bhrahmins killed Buddhism"?! Any proof? Archaeology under whose control? Communists only. Feb 22, 2015 at 4:14
  • When it is outside your belief system you ask for proof. But what you state can be questioned. Would you like to continue the discussion in chat? Because StackExchange prefers not to have discussions in comments. Click here for chat.
    – Rajib
    Feb 22, 2015 at 4:21
  • Look, everyone's statement is questionable; not only mine or yours. It is not about a belief but facts. What do you say about Bhaktiyar Khilji's actions? Yea, I'd like to chat but not now. I'll send msg when I'm ready. I've to solve some of my problems. I hope you'll understand. Feb 22, 2015 at 4:33

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