The wide arc of the book - the last days of the Raj with its attendant traumas, the building of a democracy and even an analysis of life in Oxford - does not preclude its detailed and compassionate human interest; a true reminder that grand and sweeping events are, after all, comprised of little people. The author takes us on a roller-coaster ride through his early years in the idyllic surroundings of Barisal (now in Bangladesh) to the tumultuous 1940s, when he was imprisoned for his involvement in the Quit India Movement, to his extraordinary achievements as historian and academician, all playing out against the momentous changes taking place in the world around him. This retrospective recounting of tempestuous times, while being passionate and intense, is also suffused with an understated and wry humour which, in the words of Amartya Sen, 'demonstrates that seriously enlightening history can also be great fun to read'.
In the course of a long and distinguished career as a historian and academician, TapanRaychaudhuri has been lecturer in Calcutta University, professor of economic history at the Delhi School of Economics, professor and chair of history at the University of Delhi, reader in modern South Asian history, Oxford University, and professorial fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford. He was promoted to an ad hominem chair at Oxford from which post he retired in 1993 as professor of Indian history and civilization. He is now emeritus fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford.