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Freedom at Midnight

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Freedom At Midnight by Collins and LaPierre chronicles the end of the British Raj - the end of Empire on the subcontinent and the embodiment of the movement started long years before by Mohandas Gandhi. Told in a series of vignettes, this informative and entertaining book opens with the appointment of Lord Louis Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of British India. Hand-picked for a job he didn't want, Mountbatten set out to liquidate British rule over the sub-continent under peaceful terms and with due process and dignity. Although he didn't accomplish all that he set out to do, Freedom At Midnight makes it clear that he was more successful than anyone might have thought possible.

The book jumps back and forth throughout the long chronicle of Britain's adventure and involvement in India. While some might find this a bit disjointed and difficult to follow, it never stops being entertaining and is easy to read throughout. It offers up personal glimpses of the key players involved and some strange asides about historical figures.

They do dwell upon detail is in the rioting and violence which took place immediately after Independence. Significant time is spent on contrasting the various methods used to put down the violence. Gandhi began a hunger strike in Calcutta which went further towards re-establishing order than the deployment of troops accomplished along the frontiers of the Punjab. And interwoven into the background of the story is the figure of Naturam Ghodse, the fanatic Hindu nationalist who would eventually assassinate Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.