Book Review: Exploring India: Kings and Queens by Subhadra Sen Gupta

May 27, 2016
Writer: Subhadra Sen Gupta
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Year: 2016
ISBN: 9788129137586
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Exploring India: Kings and Queens is a part of the ‘Exploring India’ series for children. This book details the lives of four historical figures: Chandragupta Maurya, Krishnadeva Raya, Razia Sultan and Nurjahan. Buy Exploring India: Kings and Queens here

What did I like?

First, the choice of the four kings and queens is a good one. Chandragupta Maurya and Krishnadeva Raya’s lives are very inspiring, yet haven’t received quite the same attention as, say, Akbar or Prithviraj Chauhan. Similarly, I was delighted that there were two queens, Razia Sultan and Nurjahan.

The stories themselves are interestingly told, and the surrounding atmosphere – palace politics, the populace’s concerns, external threats to the kingdoms – are dealt with deftly. Every story has intriguing details – for example, Chandragupta traveled in a palanquin guarded by female bodyguards! – that keep up your interest. Every section ends with a list of further reading, which, for kids genuinely interested in history, is a great idea. And also – I believe this must be said – unlike a certain very popular comic book series that deals with the same material – these books are neither jingoistic nor chauvinistic, which is a relief.

What could have been better?

If I had to quibble, it might be about the kings and queens that deserve to be included but weren’t – Rani Chennamma, Bajirao Peshwa (not king, technically). Enough reason to look forward to a part II!

The verdict?

A good sharp read for 8-10 year olds – not too long and not overburdened with dates, this is the ideal way to get kids interested in history.

Buy Exploring India: Kings and Queens here. For a comprehensive book on Indian history for kids, try Subhadra Sen Gupta’s A Children’s History of India. Check out more books for 8-10 year olds here.

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