When Qutub-ud-din Aibak died in a polo game 1210, he had left behind a rickety, fledgling Muslim kingdom in Delhi. For the next eighty-odd years, its fortunes swayed wildly, witnessing a record twelve kings. It was a period of incessant palace coups and serial political murders. The death of Balban extinguishes the so-called Muslim Slave dynasty and with it ends the shortlived Turkic Muslim imperialism. It also heralds the ascent of the Afghanistan-based Khaljis, classed as “low-born.” A straight line connects the origin of the Khaljis with the military airport built by the US in Zabul in 2006. By this time, Hindu political power in northern India is in total disarray with no unifying leader who has the vision to combat and expel the alien oppressor lodged in Delhi. No Hindu ruler exploits the repeated openings and vulnerabilities provided by internecine Sultanate warfare. Book 2 of Invaders and Infidels traces the unlikely rise of Jalal-ud-din Khalji as an illsuited monarch and ends with the maiden Islamic raid of Devagiri, the gateway to southern India. The incident will have far-reaching consequences for the history of India for the next six hundred years. It is a heady tale of a period rife with bloody intrigues, aggressive campaigns of Islamic expansionism, heroic wars of Hindu resistance and squandered chances for civilizational reclamation. The narrative in this book is marked by a flair of vivid historical storytelling, juxtaposing the oscillating fortunes of both Islamic conquests and the ensuing Hindu responses. It unearths a slew of eye-opening and forgotten details about the socio-political and economic life of the era whose impact is visible even today. Written in a fast-paced and engaging style, Book 2 of Invaders and Infidels is a riveting read of a critical juncture in the history of early Muslim rule of India.
Of Newtons and Apples
Evocatively titled, Of Newtons and Apples: Insights into 50 Great Minds in Human History does exactly what it promises. It gives us a glimpse into the professional and personal lives of 50 great personalities whose names, in some cases, are a part of everyday conversation, while in others, they are familiar names about whom we know little.
Just the way the falling of an apple led to major discoveries by Newton, this work tries to identify sources of the genius of the personalities across human history. These men and women were either creators or those who redefined the course of history in their field of work. Interestingly, each article focuses on a major achievement and one aspect of their personal lives. Such sharpness makes the articles short, engaging and, in many cases, poetic.
The classification of personalities into Building, Doing and Thinking gives us new eyes to look at them once again and debate within ourselves, the fuzzy boundaries that exist between these three primary human activities.