Lands of Belonging

A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain

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Pub Date 7 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 7 Jul 2022

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A unique exploration of the entangled histories of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain, publishing for the 75th anniversary of the Partition of India in August, perfect for 7+ readers.

Piecing together the interesting, surprising, and sometimes incredibly sad story of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain, this book examines how¬ these countries have shaped one another over the centuries. Addressing challenging subjects with refreshing honesty, husband-and-wife team Donna and Vikesh Amey Bhatt showcase South Asian innovation and culture against the backdrop of these nation’s intertwined histories.

From exploring the vast empires and amazing inventions of pre-partition India, to revealing the challenges faced by South Asian migrants to Britain – or celebrating the amazing inventions and achievements of British people of South Asian heritage today – this book explains why Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi history is British history.

Complete with vibrant artwork from Sri Lankan illustrator Salini Perera, this book will show young readers of all backgrounds that belonging is a multifaceted experience that should enable people to cherish all aspects of their culture.

A unique exploration of the entangled histories of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain, publishing for the 75th anniversary of the Partition of India in August, perfect for 7+ readers.


Advance Praise

"Dive into the history of ancient India up to modern0day India, Pakistan and Bangladsh" - The Bookseller

"Dive into the history of ancient India up to modern0day India, Pakistan and Bangladsh" - The Bookseller

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781839944680
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 5 members

Featured Reviews

Wow! Just amazing!! Comprehensive and extensive yet so clear!! I'm gearing up to recommend this book to everyone I know - adult and children alike. It was so easy to follow, I've learned so much and I was glued to the book the entire time. Lots of topics are covered about South Asia: culture, history, food, language, racism, religion, and more, but this didn't feel like a dull textbook despite the wealth of knowledge. This is a prime example of "learning is fun"!

I loved the author's introduction at the beginning, because I was able to imagine the rest of the book as a conversation between myself and him, which added a casual tone that made this huge topic feel so approachable. I adored the illustrations and especially loved the colourful boarders on each chapter; I loved the diversity in page layout as well (nothing was boring to look at!) and I especially loved The South Asian-English Dictionary page.

In short, I loved it all. Can't wait to buy a copy to add to my own personal library. Would be a treasure in a school library or classroom for sure.

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If I have to describe this gem of a book in one word, it would be “comprehensive”. If I can add one more word, it would be “enlightening”.

I love how the author began with his own mini-introduction and set up the most important question for so many people today – “Where are you from?” Answering this question is so complicated in today’s world. We have heard of ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis), and this confusion has permeated across generations and nations. This book seeks to resolve one such tangled thread – the complicated history of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in connection with Britain.

The book takes us through a historical and cultural journey through the “India” of the past (which included modern day Pakistan and Bangladesh) and present. Beginning with Ancient India and its thinkers, empires and religions; moving on to India under the East Indian Company and the British ‘Raj’; to the independence, the idiotic Radcliffe line that divided a nation and a people without any long-term consideration, and the resultant partition; and finally, post-independence India/Pakistan/Bangladesh and their global presence and impact. As the authors rightly say, this is too vast a history to be covered within a single book, but they do a great job nonetheless.

What I liked best was how the book doesn’t adopt a standard textbook approach but covers multiple topics in brief than focusing on a few topics in detail. It lends itself to a lot of further research for those who are interested. The book doesn’t stop at providing factual/historical details but also spotlights Indian cuisine, traditions, festivals, dances, sports, and so on.

Though I am from India and have been reading about the “British Raj” in history textbooks and comics since childhood, I still learnt many new facts from this book. For instance, I knew there were Indian soldiers in the British army during the two World Wars, but I didn’t know that these accounted for almost 29% of the British army! The only fact I found incorrect was how it incorrectly assumes (as do most Indians) that Christianity arrived in India with the colonial rulers. Minor flaw, but still, a flaw. Christian relics discovered in India date back to as far as 52 AD. (Kerala is known to have one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.) Other than this, the book has a firm handle on every aspect of the culture of the Indian subcontinent.

I can’t forget to mention the illustrations. They are as vibrant as our culture is, and as inclusive as the content of the book is.

My experience is, of course, a little biased as I am a South Asian. A non-South Asian will have different takeaways from the book. Either way, it is an important book, a significant topic, a culturally aware concept – in short, it is a must-read. It would be a great asset to schools and libraries, but it would also be a marvellous book in the homes of those of Indian origin now settled in England. It simplifies a complicated topic and makes it accessible as well as entertaining.

4.5 stars.

My thanks to Nosy Crow and NetGalley for the DRC of “Lands of Belonging”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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I really enjoyed reading this, finding it both interesting and very accessible. I thought the way the book was set out worked really well, looking initially at identity and how varied that can be. The book then goes on to look at all the links, historical, cultural and religious, that exist between all these countries. While it does mention both the good and bad aspects, this is overwhelmingly a positive view of cultural diversity. With bright illustrations that enhance the text, this is a really good introduction for middle grade (and older) readers.

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