Farthest Field

Farthest Field

An Indian Story of the Second World War

Book - 2015
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A brilliantly conceived nonfiction epic, a war narrated through the lives and deaths of a single family. A young man from the sleepy south Indian coast, sensing adventure and opportunity, follows his brothers-in-law into the army--and onto the front lines of India's Second World War. His army fights for the British empire, even as his countrymen fight for freedom from it, and Indian soldiers end up on both sides of the vast conflict. The narrative travels from Madras to Eritrea, Iraq, and Burma, unfolding the saga of a young family amazed by their swiftly changing world and devastated by its violence. The Farthest Field reveals how the war transformed India, its army, and the British empire that had ruled the country for so long and would, barely two years after the end of the war, abandon it to the horrors of partition. In penetrating nonfiction prose, Raghu Karnad retrieves from obscurity the epic of India's Second World War--a war the world reveres, but India would choose to forget.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : W.W. Norton & Company, 2015
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780393248098
Characteristics: xx, 300 pages : maps ; 25 cm


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Aug 24, 2017

This personal account of family members in the "Forgotten War" in north-eastern India; and northeastern Africa and the Levant is written with picture-painting prose and strong feeling. As the story is reconstructed, as the main characters were killed during the war, from the memories of soldiers-in-arms, personal letters, and military records, then the account occasionally feels contrived; and the threads of the three character's activities are sometimes confusing. This account is worth reading, in particular the Afterword, for the implications for contemporary events in these three areas of the globe. The book has two appendices, endnotes, a substantial bibliography, and an index.

Sep 06, 2015

"The spine-cracking encyclopedia of Indian castes was ironed flat onto a single khaki page." Karnad's words illuminate even the most banal of war's happenings.


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Aug 24, 2017

"The photographs of three young men stood in [the author's] grandmother's house ... beheld but never fully noticed. They had all fought in the Second World War, a fact that surprised him. ... The years 1939-45 might be the most revered, deplored, and replayed in modern history. Yet India's extraordinary role has been concealed ... In riveting prose, Karnad retrieves the story of a single family ... and with it, the greater revelation that is India's Second World War. "Farthest Field" narrates the [forgotten] 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." [Publisher's description on front flap.]


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