Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War

Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War

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“I have not lately read a finer book than this—on any subject at all.… A masterpiece.”—Simon Winchester, New Statesman

The photographs of three young men had stood in his grandmother’s house for as long as he could remember, beheld but never fully noticed. They had all fought in the Second World War, a fact that surprised him. Indians had never figured in his idea of the war, nor the war in his idea of India. One of them, Bobby, even looked a bit like him, but Raghu Karnad had not noticed until he was the same age as they were in their photo frames. Then he learned about the Parsi boy from the sleepy south Indian coast, so eager to follow his brothers-in-law into the colonial forces and onto the front line. Manek, dashing and confident, was a pilot with India’s fledgling air force; gentle Ganny became an army doctor in the arid North-West Frontier. Bobby’s pursuit would carry him as far as the deserts of Iraq and the green hell of the Burma battlefront.

The years 1939–45 might be the most revered, deplored, and replayed in modern history. Yet India’s extraordinary role has been concealed, from itself and from the world. In riveting prose, Karnad retrieves the story of a single family—a story of love, rebellion, loyalty, and uncertainty—and with it, the greater revelation that is India’s Second World War.

Farthest Field narrates the lost epic of India’s war, in which the largest volunteer army in history fought for the British Empire, even as its countrymen fought to be free of it. It carries us from Madras to Peshawar, Egypt to Burma—unfolding the saga of a young family amazed by their swiftly changing world and swept up in its violence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781511372749
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 06/14/2016
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Raghu Karnad is a journalist based in Delhi and Bangalore. He has worked as a reporter on the Indian magazines Outlook and Tehelka and is a former editor of Time Out Delhi.

Table of Contents

Maps viii

Prologue xiii

Part 1 Home

1 Everybody's Friend: Calicut, 1936-39 3

2 HukmHai: Madras, 1939-40 14

3 Savages of the Stone Age: Miranshah, November 1941 29

4 The Centre of the World: Madras, February 1942 43

5 Madras Must Not Burn: April 1942 55

6 Things Sacred Between Us: Mhow, August 1942 65

7 Do or Die: Thai, August-October 1942 69

8 The King's Own: Roorkee, August-December 1942 81

Part 2 West

9 Second Field: Baghdad, March 1943 97

10 The Jemadars' Story: Eritrea and Libya, 1940-41 105

11 The Lieutenant's Story: El Alamein, July-November 1942 118

12 Kings of Persia: Baghdad, April 1943 126

Part 3 East

13 Enter the Hurricane: Imphal, May 1943 139

14 No Heroes: Madras, May-June 1943 147

15 Fascines and Gabions: Calcutta, October 1943 156

16 The Jungle Book; Arakan, December 1943-March 1944 170

17 Fight with Your Ghost: Kohima and Jotsoma, April 1944 183

18 The Cremation Ground: Kohima, April 1944 196

19 The Elephant: Tiddim Road, June-October 1944 207

20 The Road Ahead: Madras, November 1945 220

Epilogue 227

Afterword 233

Acknowledgements 245

Notes 249

Appendix 1 Timeline 275

Appendix 2 The Indian Army 281

Select Bibliography 287

Index 295

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