The Tamils have an unbroken history of more than two thousand years. Tamil, the language they speak, is one of the oldest living languages in the world. The only people comparable to the Tamils in terms of their hoary past and vibrant present would be the Jews with one marked difference. The Tamils have always had their homeland 'Tamilaham' (alternately pronounced and spelt 'Tamizhaham') known today as Tamil Nadu which to them represents their mother and is revered by them as 'Tamizh Tai' literally `Tamil Mother'. This is in striking contrast to the Jews who have been through a long and arduous struggle to gain their homeland, a deeply contested site to this day with Hebrewisation of Israel being a key marker of Jewish identity in the region. Tamils, by contrast have a clear numerical majority in the region that now comprises Tamil Nadu and the language unites rather than divides adherents of different faiths.
The second edition of Historical Dictionary of the Tamils contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 600 cross-referenced entries on important personalities, politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, and culture. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the Tamils.
Vijaya Ramaswamy is currently the Chairperson of the Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She is a professor of Ancient and Medieval Indian History. In 2017 she has received the prestigious Discovery International Award given by the Australian Research Council.