skillfully crafted family saga down three generations
packed with information of events in the country and
the world, particularly changing Hindu-Muslim
could be a textbook on how to write, mix fact, fiction
and history. It is beautifully written; it deserves to
be in Category A1.”
Author & Historian
enjoyed M.J. Akbar’s Blood Brothers (as though it
were) my own biography… it is an exquisitely written
narrative to truth disguised in fiction and ends on a
note that is deeply moving and unforgettable.”
Gangopadhyay, Pre-eminent Bengali novelist
“M.J. Akbar’s Blood Brothers is a marvelous work
of history in the form of a deeply engaging story of a
Muslim family in Bengal.
The exploration of the complex interface
between Muslims and Hindus over the last 150 years has
the freshness of a first-person experience which it
actually is. A
work of considerable charm, grace and insight.
A worthy companion to his earlier book Shade of
Swords on the Islam/West encounter.”
The Siege Within, Challenges to a Nation's Unity
book won excellent notices internationally, and became
a staple of university courses on South Asia. It was
also unique in that it accurately predicted where the
next round of secessionist violence would come, in
Punjab and Kashmir, and put these movements both in a
historical as well as immediate context. No book by an
Indian author on politics has had quite the impact
that the author’s first book had. A sample of the
reviews with tell their own story.
in the New Statesman: "An
excellent account of the movements which have
threatened the country's unity since 1947 to make by
far the best and the most accessible explanation of
the new Indian crisis to have been there".
in The Sunday Times: "A thoughtful and well researched history of the conflict, 2500
years old, between centralising and separatist forces
in the subcontinent. And remarkably, for a work of
this kind, it’s concise, elegantly written and
Foot said of the book:
“How graphically and
skilfully the real problems are described…the book
is likely to have a considerable influence both in
India and Britain.”
quotations could go on. Remarkably, there was not a
single poor review!
for Riot After Riot
Riot After Riot
appeared in 1987. It was a collection of studies
in violence, whether Hindu-Muslim or inter-caste. It
mirrored the harsh realities of the subcontinent and
included a prescient piece on the major social
explosion over the mosque in Ayodhya built at the time
of the Mughal emperor Babar. This book is still in
print and continues to sell steadily.
Mulk Raj Anand
said of the book in the Times of India: "They are poignant accounts of the tragedies of our time, lit up by
flashes of brilliance to humanise us".
The Making of India.
1989, Viking and Penguin published the author's
major, substantive biography of Jawaharlal Nehru,
The Making of India.
Once again, the reception was splendid. Time
magazine, to name just one instance, gave it a two
page review in its international edition.
wrote in The New York Times: “M. J.
Akbar one of India's ablest journalists, has provided
a brilliant portrait of this mercurial, sensitive,
powerful figure while giving a skilful analysis of the
historical forces that led to the transformation of
Britain's Indian empire into the modern states of
India and Pakistan."
in the Independent: "It
is deftly done and Akbar is uncommonly balanced on the
historic tensions between Hindus and his own Muslim
wrote in The Times of India: "A
truly magnificent book.... should be read by every
Indian who is concerned about the unity of his
in Time: "In the hands of a less skilled narrator the sheer volume and
complexity of the material might have been
overwhelming. As it is Akbar is a graceful and
sensitive writer who manages to combine scholarship,
insight and analysis with a journalist’s instinct
for the vivid and revealing detail".
Shade of Swords:
Jihad and the conflict between Islam and
2002 Routledge, in UK and USA, and Roli Books
in India published
M.J. Akbar’s book The Shade of Swords:
Jihad and the conflict between Islam and
Christianity. Once again, the reception was
extraordinarily positive, worldwide, whether
in the Indian media or international newspapers
like the Financial Times. A selection of reviews is
enclosed to indicate the worldwide applause that this
seminal examination of a mojor contemporary crisis
2003, an updated version with a long chapter on
Iraq was published internationally.
for The Shade of Swords
have rarely come across a book that contains so much
of everything that Islam has given to the world, told so
artistically with the creative ability for which Akbar
is famous. No wonder the book has created a storm both
among the intellectuals and in the marketplace here
Rafiq Zakaria in The Hindustan Times
pressing need for the West to look at itself in the wake
of September 11 is the challenge elaborated elegantly
and with great force by M.J. Akbar... [he] deftly shifts
the centre of gravity of the current crisis from the
Middle East to South Asia. He makes clear from the start
that an understanding of Islam today requires a sound
understanding of its roots, particularly with reference
to his chosen subject of jihad, holy war."
Huband in The Financial Times
idiosyncratic, polemical and wide-ranging. M.J. Akbar's
writing reflects his depth of experience and his passion
for his subject... Perhaps his most timely book
Dalrymple, author of City of Djinns: A Year
understand the complex forces - religious, political,
and historical - that have fuelled the fervor for Jihad,
read this book”
Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International
unbelievably sophisticated work that is terribly
daring... An innovative and lucid religious history of
ideology, idolatry, betrayal and violence."
Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winner and staff writer
for the New Yorker
tells a story like it should be told, penning a
sensitive and sometimes anguished portrait of the
conflict between two religions that have clashed
constantly because conflict was directly proportionate
to territorial and ideological growth... Will undeniably
accrue praise from those who wish to unravel the
composition of the fuels that stoke the Islamic
Jesudasan in The Indian Express
excellent new book by the distinguished Indian
journalist M.J. Akbar traces the centuries-long history
of the conflict between Islam and Christianity, inflamed
today by the world dominance of the US."
a wordsmith, he has no equals. He is simply the best
journalist/writer in India... With his latest work he is
all set to stun academics the world over with his
incisive, well-researched arguments, impeccably
presented in faultless prose."
in Bombay Times, The Times of India
rapid, dramatically engaging history of the
embattlements of Islam."
in India Today
literary skills and mordant wit are at their best in
recounting the myriad manifestations of jihad, its
mythology, in history, literature and cultures since the
fall of Jerusalem in AD 637 to the destruction of the
World Trade Center in 2002."
Bhanu Mehta in
the end of the book, Akbar managed to convince me that
there is little to choose between Islam and Christianity
in terms of fanaticism, be it in literal and radical
interpretations of the scriptures or in their urge to
J. Akbar is knowledgeable, writes extremely well and has
an eye for the arresting anecdote... Akbar, more
comfortable as a journalist than a historian, clearly
admires President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, but
accepts that neither he nor Osama bin Laden is the new
Saladin who will deliver the Islamic umah from the power
of the infidel."
Read in The Spectator
"A must read for any right-minded Indian who wishes
to understand the dynamics of the continent and must
therefore understand the intricacies of Islam."
in The Indian Express
"The Shade of Swords is a book of learning and a
book of revelations"
in The Asian Age
"...wide-ranging and very readable account of the
varied interpretations of the concept through
used to say that except Pannickar, India has no
historians only chronologists. Reviews apart, I must say
even at the risk of appearing exuberant, your book is
the best historical analysis I have read about Islamic
rule in India that places the dates of Indian history in