November/December 2010 Gandhi & Churchill The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age by Arthur Herman. I think this book really didn't deliver on the sub-title, but it was an outstanding book. It did deliver to me a readable account of the British presence and eventual withdrawal from India in 1947, which was what I was looking for. It's a fairly formidable book, 609 pages, but it reads easily and is well organized to convey really critical dates and events in such a way that the narrative flows. Since India has been on my travel itineraries for a couple of years, I was looking for a book that would help me understand that country a little better.

The book presents the biographies of the main two figures, who only met face-to-face once in 1905, squarely in the context of the big events on the early 20th Century. Churchill's opposition to the appeasement policies of the Chamberlain government, and his unflinching opposition to Indian independence in the 1930's both propelled him to the PM job in 1940, and also to his loss to Atlee and the Labour party in 1945.

According to the book, Gandhi was unable to hold the Hindu and Moslem communities in India together. The book goes into greta detail on this relationship and the events that led ultimately to the partition of India in 1947. The book gave the origin of the name "Pakistan" as on the one hand being the Urdu word for "Land of the Pure" but also an acronym: P for Punjab, A for Afghania, K for Kashmir, S for Sind and TAN for Baluchistan.

I really got a lot out of this book.