Enjoyed this well researched, well written history of Kashmir by MJ Akbar. Kashmir: Behind the vale, is short for a history book (300 pages) but packs a punch to bring historical perspective to understand the evolution of 'Kashmiriyat': Kashmiri identity which through centuries was nothing to do with religion (with its emphasis of culture, poetry, crafts, Kashmir's own brand of Sufism). It canters through the long history of alternate rules of afghans, Mughals, hindu Dogras who seemed to almost compete with each other to be more brutal than the previous regime. The strength of the book is to delve in details, quoting from primary and secondary sources (govt papers, letters, UN speeches, books etc), the build of the 'Kashmir issue' and more interestingly, the role of all 'players' on the stage spanning 3 generations (1930-1960 era: Singh, sheikh abdullah, Nehru, Patel. Menon, Jinnah, Mountbatten etc, to later 1970-80s phase: Indira Gandhi,bhutto, ayub khan). The tale of miscalculations, missed opportunities, vicious cycle of events, politics winning over well being of people almost gives rise to frustration as one reads the book which indeed is tthe tragic story of this issue. My only gripe with this book is that whilst the new edition was published in 2010, the author says that he hasn't added an 'afterword' to update the commentary since the original book (which covered events till 1990). Thus I felt a bit cheated as the build up till 1990 misses the update of last 2 decades or so in which, if anything, the situation actually deteriorated( whilst it seems to have stabilised a bit now for last 2 years). The author should have taken the effort to update the new edition to fill in for 1990-2010 phase. Neverlessless, I was looking for history book on Kashmir to accompany me for my visit to that lovely state and this was the right book for it. Recommended it.Samyuktha jayaprakash
I'm really impressed. But then i know nil about Kashmir - only whatever i read from this book. The author has brought breakneck speed in a non fiction book xD while the content plays a major role his handling has made it simple and entertaining for a beginner to learn about the indian pak relations over kashmir. The process and confusion on either sides is quite revealing. I found lots of anecdotes and less sources - what with it being a non fiction book - and also found the author to be pretty biased on certain levels :P Learnt a lot and enjoyed this book thoroughly. Shows reality> fiction histoy politics <3 my favoritethe conditions of kashmiri ppl after independence could've been highlighted more.Chandrasekhar
A good book for someone interested in the history of Kashmir. Starts right from the beginning with Lal Ded and includes the early history (chapter 2 seems a thriller straight from bollywood and with its turns and twists seems like a comedy). Post independence, India's handling of the situation is an eye-opener. Its really surprising how many errors Nehru and party committed.Sonali
Excellent read! Highly recommended...Anil Swarup
Kashmir evokes complex thoughts and feelings. The issues involved are complex but it is to the credit of Akbar that he articulates his thoughts and arguments cogently and lucidly. The book makes an extremely interesting reading.Vikas Lather
A brilliant description of Kashmir right from its inception till now..must read for all those who want to know everything about Kashmir problem..Sarvjeet
M J Akbar discusses and describes Kashmir with the acumen of a scientist and heart of a poet.