Disastrous Twilight: A Personal Record of the Partition of India

S. Shahid Hamid
Philip Ziegler
Secker & Warburg
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From Amazon: "The Partition of India in 1947 probably created more problems than it solved. Any new assessment of the Partition is therefore doubly welcome - both as a contribution to history and as an aid to an understanding of what, in current jargon, is still very much an 'on-going situation'. General Hamid's book is of particular value in view of the unique vantage point from which it was written. In 1946 he was appointed Personal Secretary to Field-Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, then Commander-in-Chief, India. Realizing that he had the good fortune to have been given a ringside seat for possibly the greatest of all the dramas tn his country's history, Hamid decided to keep a diary, which is only now being published because the author was made to promise that it would not appear during the Auk's lifetime, a gesture typical of that very great and good but essentially private man. Naturally, in his position, Hamid was in constant contact with all those people the sum of whose decisions were to lead to one oi the greatest mass migrations, accompanied by one of the greatest bloodbaths, in the history of mankind. His observations on the build-up to this appalling tragedy have the added value of being untainted by hindsight, and though many may not agree with all his opinions, few will deny that the views he expressed at the time have stood up to the judgement of history remarkably well. Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah, Baldev, Wavell, Mountbatten, Cripps - they and many, many more come under the critical eye of the young colonel as he watches them unwittingly setting the scene for the great massacre that was to come. Auchinleck, of course, occupies the centre of the stage as seen from Hamid's seat, and to watch this formidably honest and upright man struggling to save the army he had loved and served for so many years makes compelling reading. Here is tragedy on the grandest scale and Gen Hamid proves himself a worthy chronicler thereof."