Book Review: The Unknown Indians

History was very boring when I was in school. That’s possibly because all I ever did was mug dates and events, so that I could just pass the test. But, once on a train journey to Mangalore, I met this old lady, Nirmala, who was a school Principal. She was a History major from JNU.  She told a few stories that made me fall in love with History.


What was so special about Nirmala madam, well she transformed the subject into a story and so when Rajendra chozha went on his expedition to the Far East, my heart rose in support of this great monarch who once ruled a kingdom bigger than present day India. Since that eventful journey, countless books on History,  have been devoured by yours truly. 


My mother –in- law happens to be a great cook, she is also a beautiful storyteller. She tells stories of food! Stories of the food she cooks . It’s a dual treat when we visit her, food and stories! 


When I came by the book “ The Unknown Indians”  written by Subhadra Sen Gupta, I knew I had to pick it up. As the name suggests, it is not a book about kings and queens but stories of ordinary things that are a big part of our history too.


The book has four chapters, and each can be read seperately. The chapter that fascinated me the most was the “ Delicious Platter of Joy”.  It talks about how everyday food we eat is shaped by the history of our country. This morning I ate Idli with coconut and tomato chutney. What I now know is that this would not have been possible some years ago in our country! Coconut came floating to the shores of our country from Papua New Guinea and Tomatoes were introduced to the country by the Portugese!  The tea am sipping as I write this piece is Chinese, this you probably knew but  the samosa am eating now was brought to India by the Arabs and they called it Samusak!


The other chapters are great too! They explain stories of how poetry, art, textile, pottery etc shaped what we know today as History and culture! I highly recommend this one for kids of 9 to 11 year olds. Apart from being a very interesting read, this also instills a very important thought – That nothing is written in stone ! History needn’t always be about conquests and monuments, the little things you and I do today is also History when viewed by posterity 

Educational Value: 5/5
Role Models & Attitude Portrayal: Not Applicable
Age Band - broad band : 9 + Years

Publisher : Red Turtle

Author : Subhadra Sen Gupta

Illustrator: Tapas Guha

About the Reviewer:

Niranjana Reddy - Mother of two sons | Software Engineer | Loves to cycle| Aspiring Master Chef | Bookworm | Nerd | TV Junkie