Empires Of The Indus: The Story Of A River; Alice Albinia

Somewhere in the middle of September 2009, was when I started reading this book. As I went through the early pages, I slipped into a comfortable and complacent state – I would finish reading Empires Of The Indus: The Story Of A River in a few of days; I’ll cruise through it, I told myself.

It wasn’t to be so.

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The history of the river and of the ’empires’ and the folklore and the community that laces this river challenged my curiosity as I, now, slowly made through the pages. The excitement that the author causes as she takes you, deftly through the caves and waterways and tunnels of 19th century history, folk-tales, social issues and right up to history that occurred a few thousands year ago – is a wonderful ride.

Your affinity for history will be of some importance as you read this book. First, because though it is on my history bookshelf, I would not classify this as a ‘history’ book as such. The other option is travel – but it does not sit snugly in that bookshelf, either.

To my mind, it is a biography – of a geographic feature. There is research there – loads of it – as becomes evident when you read through – yet the book is not blemished with distracting footnotes.

The writing is straightforward, simple and inviting; to participate in her adventure. And never a dull moment in that adventure (I must say warn, you must have that streak of historic curiosity to some extent). The content very easily incorporates facts, whole stories, references, extreme emotions, and a sense of belonging. It has been a while, since I have enjoyed reading non-fiction history.

So after having started it in September 2009, I reached 2/3rd of the book by January of 2011. I cannot read books on history without context – I need maps, some background to an event, and an overview of the chronology. The book is now full of post-its and notes. For various reasons, I did not read the book after that. When I picked up the book again, earlier this month, I obviously could not recall the adventure earlier. Back to page 1. Thankfully my notes allowed me to cruise through, the pages I had read.

Pithy observation and insightful comments mark the book in equal measure. I loved the book!

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