Farthest Field An Indian Story of the Second World War


May 29, 2015

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Raghu Karnad the author of “ Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War” writes in about the new book. It features stories about Parsi soldiers in World War 2.

Farthest_Field_RHB.inddThree young men gazed at him from silver-framed photographs in his grandmother’s house, ‘beheld but not noticed, as angels are in a frieze full of mortal strugglers’. They had all been in the Second World War, a fact that surprised him. Indians had never figured in his idea of the war, nor the war in his idea of India – and he thought that he had a good idea of both.

One of them, Bobby, even looked a bit like him, but Raghu Karnad had not noticed until he was the same age as they were in their photo-frames. Then he learned about the Parsi boy from the sleepy south Indian coast, so eager to follow his brothers-in-law into the colonial forces and onto the front line. Manek, dashing and confident, was a pilot with India’s fledgling air force; gentle Ganny became an army doctor in the arid North-West Frontier. Bobby’s pursuit would carry him as far as the deserts of Iraq and the green hell of the Burma battlefront.

The years 1939-45 might be the most revered, deplored and replayed in modern history. Yet India’s extraordinary role has been concealed, from itself and from the world. In riveting prose, Karnad retrieves the story of a single family – a story of love, rebellion, loyalty and uncertainty – and with it, the greatest revelation that is India’s Second World War.

Farthest Field narrates the lost 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.

Critical Praise

Praise for Raghu Karnad:

‘Nothing short of brilliant … [he] engages with matters of real seriousness – the selective nature of military memory and the arbitrary obsessions of the contemporary literary canon … with delicately thoughtful elegance … Completely compelling non-fiction narrative … a poignant pilgrimage’ Simon Schama

‘This book tells us that we all have two deaths: when we die and when we are forgotten. But there is a possibility of three births, the third being recreated in an extraordinary book. One of those rare and extraordinary books which bring people alive again. It has been written with imagination and is engrossing to read’ Michael Holroyd —

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780008115722
  • ISBN 10: 0008115729
  • Imprint: William Collins
  • On Sale: 04/06/2015
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Trimsize: 15.300
  • Pages: 320
  • List Price: £18.99
  • BIC1: BTM
  • BIC2: HB
  • Buy On Amazon