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Book Review: Brahmaputra: The story of Lachit Barpukhan, The Assamese contemporary of Chhatrapati Shivaji

Publication: Nitaliblogs.wordpress.com
Date: May 25, 2017
URL:       https://nitaliblogs.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/book-review-brahmaputra-the-story-of-lachit-barpukhan-the-assamese-contemporary-of-chhatrapati-shivaji/

Brahmaputra: The Story of Lachit Barphukan - Assamese Contemporary of Chhatrapati ShivajiBrahmaputra: The Story of Lachit Barphukan Aneesh Gokhale My rating: 4 of 5 stars –

It is indeed quite a shame that school history textbooks in mainland India never mention anything about Lachit Barpukhan, or for that matter anything about Ahoms or the history of the North East in general. I learnt about Lachit Barpukhan myself while reading East of the Sun, a travelogue by Siddharth Sarma. Intrigued by the history of Assam, and the story of Lachit, I was on the lookout for a book that would tell me more about this unsung hero of India. During this search, I came across this book; and I must confess that I started reading it only because Aneesh is an alumnus of my school, and having known him briefly, I knew that the book would have been researched well.

The book gives a quick glimpse of the life and times of Lachit Barpukhan, his military strategy and patriotism; and the impact it had on the Ahom dynasty. The book tries to draw parallels with the life and times of Chhatrapati Shivaji; since the two were contemporaries, fighting the same enemy (Aurangzeb), and were driven by the same values of patriotism and swarajya. There may also be some similarity in their military strategy, in the sense that they both resorted to guerilla warfare and used the advantage of local terrain against an enemy unfamiliar with it. While the similarity is mostly limited to that, I felt that the chapters on Shivaji that intermingle with the chapters on the Ahoms, affect the pace of the book. While the book aims to pique the interest of the reader with the parallels drawn to Shivaji; it in fact had the exactly opposite effect for me, it took my interest away from the main storyline; which was otherwise perfectly gripping by itself.

The book although fictionalized, does rely heavily on diligent research using credible scholarly resources. The part that is fictionalized, and may have details that are historically controversial are duly ackowledged at the end of the book.

Overall, it is good read for someone who wants to do some preliminary reading about the history of Assam; but it may not be for someone who wants a more pedagogic account of the same.

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