counter create hit Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History

Availability: Ready to download

Much of human history has played itself out along the rim of the Indian Ocean. In a first-of-its-kind attempt, bestselling author Sanjeev Sanyal tells the history of this significant region, which stretches across East Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia and Australia. He narrates a fascinating tale about the earliest human migrations out Much of human history has played itself out along the rim of the Indian Ocean. In a first-of-its-kind attempt, bestselling author Sanjeev Sanyal tells the history of this significant region, which stretches across East Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia and Australia. He narrates a fascinating tale about the earliest human migrations out of Africa and the great cities of Angkor and Vijayanagar; medieval Arab empires and Chinese ‘treasure fleets’; the rivalries of European colonial powers and a new dawn. Sanjeev explores remote archaeological sites, ancient inscriptions, maritime trading networks and half-forgotten oral histories, to make exciting revelations. In his inimitable style, he draws upon existing and new evidence to challenge well-established claims about famous historical characters and the flow of history. Adventurers, merchants, explorers, monks, swashbuckling pirates, revolutionaries and warrior princesses populate this colourful and multifaceted narrative. The Ocean of Churn takes the reader on an amazing journey through medieval geopolitics and eyewitness accounts of long-lost cities to the latest genetic discoveries about human origins, bringing alive a region that has defined civilization from the very beginning.


Compare
Ads Banner

Much of human history has played itself out along the rim of the Indian Ocean. In a first-of-its-kind attempt, bestselling author Sanjeev Sanyal tells the history of this significant region, which stretches across East Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia and Australia. He narrates a fascinating tale about the earliest human migrations out Much of human history has played itself out along the rim of the Indian Ocean. In a first-of-its-kind attempt, bestselling author Sanjeev Sanyal tells the history of this significant region, which stretches across East Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia and Australia. He narrates a fascinating tale about the earliest human migrations out of Africa and the great cities of Angkor and Vijayanagar; medieval Arab empires and Chinese ‘treasure fleets’; the rivalries of European colonial powers and a new dawn. Sanjeev explores remote archaeological sites, ancient inscriptions, maritime trading networks and half-forgotten oral histories, to make exciting revelations. In his inimitable style, he draws upon existing and new evidence to challenge well-established claims about famous historical characters and the flow of history. Adventurers, merchants, explorers, monks, swashbuckling pirates, revolutionaries and warrior princesses populate this colourful and multifaceted narrative. The Ocean of Churn takes the reader on an amazing journey through medieval geopolitics and eyewitness accounts of long-lost cities to the latest genetic discoveries about human origins, bringing alive a region that has defined civilization from the very beginning.

30 review for Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    A thoroughly enjoyable voyage across the Indian Ocean with Sanjeev Sanyal. Sanyal has clearly gone from strength to strength since his last work and his command over the narrative, and engagement of the reader is admirable now. A challenging task is taken up here, since the sweep of time and geography to be covered in a short book like this is ambitious to say the least. Sanyal pulls it off quite handsomely, it has to be said, even though oversimplification and a few biases color the narrative i A thoroughly enjoyable voyage across the Indian Ocean with Sanjeev Sanyal. Sanyal has clearly gone from strength to strength since his last work and his command over the narrative, and engagement of the reader is admirable now. A challenging task is taken up here, since the sweep of time and geography to be covered in a short book like this is ambitious to say the least. Sanyal pulls it off quite handsomely, it has to be said, even though oversimplification and a few biases color the narrative in many places - but I appreciated the fact that in a few instances where Sanyal gives us an overtly divergent view of events, he admits that he is showing us such a version of history only to make us question the established stories we have accepted to date. That is a interesting way to engage the reader in a history book and I liked how that allows the author to trot out pet theories and still allow himself the guise of a serious historian. My biggest gripe with the book was the amount of space dedicated to the pre-historic migrations, and the constant references to the aryan invasion theory. However, this can be excused to an extent since Sanyal does use that background to keep pointing us towards how certain patterns in the history of the Indian Ocean rim seem to repeat themselves over millennia... It might be more imagined than real, these patterns, but it gives the book that sense of a grand sweep, and a mystique to the ocean rim itself. Much of the actual history should be familiar territory for most readers (assuming people who pick up a niche book like this would tend to be history buffs), but the narrative created by Sanyal and the enjoyment of reading a well-narrated, well-researched, and articulate history by a young Indian author more than makes up for it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kumar Anshul

    How come the fossil remains of marine animals have been found in Himalayas? How come we can see oriental faces in the engravings by Pallavas? Why did Vasco Da Gama worshipped in a Hindu Temple when he set his foot in India for the first time? How come the Parsi Community of India embraced the local Gujarati culture so effortlessly? Yeah, you guessed it right- This books has not only answers, but also profound explanations of all the above mentioned (and many more) questions. History has been presc How come the fossil remains of marine animals have been found in Himalayas? How come we can see oriental faces in the engravings by Pallavas? Why did Vasco Da Gama worshipped in a Hindu Temple when he set his foot in India for the first time? How come the Parsi Community of India embraced the local Gujarati culture so effortlessly? Yeah, you guessed it right- This books has not only answers, but also profound explanations of all the above mentioned (and many more) questions. History has been prescribed in our curriculum right from the primary school. But if you will ponder a bit, its easy to realize that the entire curriculum is heavily skewed towards "Mainland History". While we discuss Ashoka and Akbar in great lengths, a minuscule space is given to the Cholas, Chalukyas and Pallavas. We talk at lengths about Ashoka and Akbar but conveniently forget Kharavela. In this groundbreaking, one-of-its-kind book, Sanjeev Sanyal retraces History from the Indian Ocean's and its coastline's perspective. The book start right from the origin of Indian Ocean due to the movement of tectonic plates and ends right at the transformation of Bombay to Mumbai with the reclamation of land over the ocean. The book is full of rich details of all kingdoms that throve around the Indian coastline and islands on Indian ocean and of also those that had cultural and trade ties with these kingdoms. Some of the anecdotes are a delight to read while many others get a bit dragging and prosaic- but it doesn't undermine the fact that the book is an extremely informative account and is a result of an honest and meticulous hard work of author. Some details in this book will challenge your notions and previous knowledge of history with new insights and a different perspective while others will make you go bewildered about the richness and obscurity of our ancient times. A heartfelt thanks to Penguin Books India for providing The BookTrack team with a review copy of the book. Please buy a copy of this book from Amazon and start a literary ride which will increase your knowledge quotient for sure-http://amzn.to/2bpQwgb Find out more interesting reviews on The Booktrack- https://thebooktrack.wordpress.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jaya

    I did hope to be impressed which unfortunately I wasn't while reading this one. I did hope to find some intensive if not extensive history of the diasporic movement around and across the Indian Ocean, what I did get was a quick tour of the region and those beyond it spreading across centuries and civilizations, right from the Prehistoric times to the recent past. I did hope to read of those unknown sailors, pirates, local merchants, lascars, what I got...well I did not get what the author had hin I did hope to be impressed which unfortunately I wasn't while reading this one. I did hope to find some intensive if not extensive history of the diasporic movement around and across the Indian Ocean, what I did get was a quick tour of the region and those beyond it spreading across centuries and civilizations, right from the Prehistoric times to the recent past. I did hope to read of those unknown sailors, pirates, local merchants, lascars, what I got...well I did not get what the author had hinted in his first chapter. This still appeared to be a narrative from the top not of the subalterns... Having said that, if you want to know about the whats and whos without being bogged down by conjectures and analysis or theories, then go for this book. Ohh and I am definitely going to check out the references from which the author has cited a lot of information in the book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    The author of this book, Sanjeev Sanyal makes a credible statement on an obvious shortcoming with a majority of historic narratives. In a planet where 71% are covered by the oceans, our history is almost completely rooted on the land. Sanyal in his book sets out to look at history from the Indian Ocean’s perspective. The Indian Ocean encompasses Africa, Asia and Australasia in its fold what happens against the backdrop of this sea is rich, varied and instrumental to world history. The narrative The author of this book, Sanjeev Sanyal makes a credible statement on an obvious shortcoming with a majority of historic narratives. In a planet where 71% are covered by the oceans, our history is almost completely rooted on the land. Sanyal in his book sets out to look at history from the Indian Ocean’s perspective. The Indian Ocean encompasses Africa, Asia and Australasia in its fold what happens against the backdrop of this sea is rich, varied and instrumental to world history. The narrative draws inspiration from the namesake of the ocean itself and is almost fully if not completely India centric. The course of events that the author chooses is pretty much well-trodden territory starting right from the first large migrations of humanoids across landscapes, the breakup of the super continent, colonization of Australia and so forth down to the rise of sedentary civilizations. The Persians and Greeks are given passing references and the narrative shifts almost completely to India once Alexander departs from the subcontinent. The first pan Indian empire was established following the battle between Chandragupta Maurya (Sandracottus in Greek) and Seleucus Nicator which led to Mauryan domination across the sub-continent. This was followed by a succession of dynasties with the Sungas, Satavahanas, Rashtrakutas and Guptas to the north and the Cholas, Cheras and Pandiyas to the south. This wave was followed by the Islamic sultanates and the Mughals who then left the stage for the rise of the Marathas. The dynasties all wound down with the rise of the English East India Company and the British colonization of India and the rest is pretty famous history. All of these get ample attention from Sanyal and the narrative also features cameos by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French. In reality these events stretched out over centuries and yet Sanyal captures it all in a gap of just a few chapters. The hues of the individual stories range from the totally daring ( how the British sneaked away the seedlings for cloves and nutmegs from Dutch control) to the depressing ( the Portuguese arrival and subsequent carnage in Calicut) to the gallant ( Marthanda Varma defeating the Dutch at the battle of Kolachal) and all of which have made significant forks in the highways of history. Sanyal compresses the stories into a quick read and while this is the biggest highlight of the book, it is also the book’s undoing. Brevity in terms of historical narratives might not always be the best way to treat a reader since a lot of details and explanations are sacrificed for the sake of easy readability and this malady strikes the narrative heavily. To borrow from Stephen King it is as if the flow of events are hurrying by in a rush to get out in a whoosh while stumbling and jostling with each other. There is also the fact that Sanyal’s narrative is prejudiced for a few reasons. At the onset itself, he discounts the fact that there has been an Aryan invasion at all across the sub-continent and without valid proof. All that you get are phrases like ‘we know that’ or ‘as we know’ to substantiate the claims. As to how ‘we know that’ is not explained. The tone is also rather careless at places, let me illustrate with a piece from the book : The analysis of the DNA extracted from the remains of European hunter-gatherers suggests that lighter skin may have spread among Europeans as recently as 5000 BC (i.e. after the migration) although I suspect some pre-existing north European populations may have become light-skinned much earlier. Now I understand that Sanyal is an amateur historian but telling us that he suspects something is not ground enough for our solid understanding of a concept. I did come across multiple usages of my guess is or I think here and as fellow readers I don’t have to tell you what that counts for when we talk about history. And much like the Aryan theory there are personalities and groups he discards summarily. For instance while the kingdoms of the coast are all lauded, a king like Ashoka is given a critical eye. Sanyal begins his sub-chapter on Ashoka calling it ‘Ashoka – the not so great ?’. A similar treatment is meted out for Gandhi and the Indian National Congress while Subhash Chandra Bose and the armed revolutionaries are treated with awe. The contributions of all these cannot be discounted and yet it tells a lot on the personal biases from the author’s side. Needless to say a lot of filtering needs to be done before the contents of the book can be consumed. Recommended for the story but not the history.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pradeep T

    Being a regular reader of the history I was fascinated by this book by the author Sanjeev Sanyal. Having read his previous book "Land of the Seven Rivers" I was all eager to read this new book. In his previous book, he talked about the seven important rivers of India including the mighty Saraswati River. The Land of seven rivers was summed up in one line as “Seven Rivers (Sapth Sindhu), One Country, Five Millennia, Startling History”. Asian histories have been rendered in a biased manner since ti Being a regular reader of the history I was fascinated by this book by the author Sanjeev Sanyal. Having read his previous book "Land of the Seven Rivers" I was all eager to read this new book. In his previous book, he talked about the seven important rivers of India including the mighty Saraswati River. The Land of seven rivers was summed up in one line as “Seven Rivers (Sapth Sindhu), One Country, Five Millennia, Startling History”. Asian histories have been rendered in a biased manner since time immemorial. As a famous saying that goes, until an animal has its own history, the history of the hunting will always glorify the hunter. If we take any history curriculum in Indian education system, we can read leaps and bounds of Mughul Empire, the British regime, the Sultanates and such similar accounts. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to read the histories of Cholas, Pandyas, Pallavas in greater detail and their glories have been limited to few pages here and there. This book, one of a kind in its genre, breaks that stupor and gives us a riveting account of how the Indian Ocean has shaped the human history. Indian Ocean is itself a big mystery. It holds many unresolved or undiscovered history that is hidden deep into its core. Author Sanjeev Sanyal tried to uncover this in this vast researched and well articulated book and succeeded in satiating his readers. The book opens up by a fascinating tale of how the Pallava dynasty has traced an heir to their Kingdom when the erstwhile King, Parameshwara Verman II died in 731 CE. A delegation of Brahmin scholars, which travelled across the Indian Ocean to the far ends of Cambodia, and got back an heir that traced his roots to the Pallava dynasty from five long generations ago!! Thus, the reign of Nandi Verman II has started. Sanjeev Sanyal views this history as Complex Adaptive System. Given his background in Economics, where he considers multiple factors act upon a system to determine the direction it takes. From Harrappan times, Indians have been trading with the world in many ways. Maritime trading is the major aspect during those times when land routes were hardly discovered. The powerful Chola king, Rajendra Chola made a naval attack on the Sri Vijaya Kingdom of Sumatra by 1025 is one such example. Chola Empire was one of the powerful empires in the entire South Asia region during that time. There were a major geo-political-economic alliances or rivalries between Indians, Chinese and the Sri Vijaya Kingdom. Kerala being the hub of the maritime trade have witnessed a vast amount of geo-political-economic tradeoffs. As a testimony to those, even today in Kerala, we have the world’s second Mosque and India’s first mosque (Cheraman Perumal Mosque) built by the king Cherman Perumal by the orders of Mohammed the prophet himself in 629 AD. We also get to see the memorial of St. Thomas (doubting Thomas fame), a disciple of Jesus, who visited Kerala via sea route. Read the full review here

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lasic

    Another brilliant book by Sanjeev Sanyal.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hrishikesh

    The best thing about this book is the focus on South India. Indian History is far too Delhi-centric, and it is good that an emminental readable and well-studied account of the South is now presented. The author has a knack of combining the studies of Geography and History, and the book does not disappoint one bit. What I particularly enjoyed is the use of anecdotes to stitch together broader historical patterns. The book also does not pull back on punches and focused on key areas such as the cul The best thing about this book is the focus on South India. Indian History is far too Delhi-centric, and it is good that an emminental readable and well-studied account of the South is now presented. The author has a knack of combining the studies of Geography and History, and the book does not disappoint one bit. What I particularly enjoyed is the use of anecdotes to stitch together broader historical patterns. The book also does not pull back on punches and focused on key areas such as the cultural interlinkage of the Indian Ocean Region, and the cruelty of colonial rule. My.only complaint is that the book is more "horizontal" than "vertical", in so much as that certain sections of the book lack in depth. That, however, is a function of the author's prerogative and the reader's discretion, and beyond this the book is excellent. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek Desikan

    There aren’t many books which make you feel thankful that you came across them. The Ocean of Churn, by Sanjeev Sanyal, is definitely one of them. For quite some time I’ve wanted to read a book which would give an accurate and vivid description of how civilization came to be, especially around the Indian subcontinent. Few people could tell the story in such a concise manner as has the author, as we wade through the origin of Homo Sapiens right up to the bustling cosmopolitan 21st century behemoth There aren’t many books which make you feel thankful that you came across them. The Ocean of Churn, by Sanjeev Sanyal, is definitely one of them. For quite some time I’ve wanted to read a book which would give an accurate and vivid description of how civilization came to be, especially around the Indian subcontinent. Few people could tell the story in such a concise manner as has the author, as we wade through the origin of Homo Sapiens right up to the bustling cosmopolitan 21st century behemoth that the area has now become. Choosing to focus on how the Indian Ocean has been “churning” civilization, is what makes this book stand out. When we read history, we focus a lot on wars and politics happening on land, and tend to overlook the vast role that the oceans play, be it exchange of ideas, maritime trade, or enabling migrations back and forth across centuries, resulting in a cocktail of culture and ecosystems and technological advancements. It was fascinating to read how humanity overcame a variety of odds, ever since the ice ages and expanded in ways we can scarcely imagine. We learn how migrations out of Africa led to a variety of settlements from Iraq to Australia and India to Indonesia. We read about the rise and fall of the Harappan civilization, Alexander’s conquests which led to rise of the Mauryan empire, the golden age of the Guptas, the rise of Islam, the Turkish invasions, the southern kingdoms of Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas and Pallavas and their breadth of influence across East Asia, the reoccupation of Sri Lanka by various Tamil kings and later European colonizers, the colonization process which started with the establishment of Dutch and English trading companies and how we finally achieved Independence and helped other colonies achieve their own independence as well. Throughout these eras, maritime trade is a constant theme, and has largely impacted how history was shaped in these places. It is what explains the presence of the largest religious building in the world, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, as it does of the voyages of Fa Xien and Vasco da Gama. Easily, reading about the sea faring enterprises was the best part of this book. I was particularly pleased with the larger perspective that the book emphasizes throughout. People and events in history are judged by different standards, and what shaped their actions then might not be looked at kindly by people from a different era. The converse is also true. Hence, we find out that Ashoka wasn’t as “great” as we think he was, just as we learn Netaji wasn’t as “fascist” as history makes him look for joining hands with the Germans and Japanese. It was also heartening to note the role of various revolutionaries who were as much, if not more responsible for our freedom than Gandhi and Nehru were, and leaves one with a bitter taste when we realize how little we actually learn about them in contemporary history. Going through so many layers of history leaves one with a sense of awe, disbelief and a certain measure of sadness over the constant pursuit of wealth and the destruction that human greed has caused, but, in spite of that, the very fact that millennia old traditions continue to survive and thrive in this subcontinent is a testament to the lesson which the author concludes with - that time devours the greatest of men and the mightiest of empires.

  9. 4 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    2.5/5 For the most part it read like a school textbook, too much information of dates and names cramped into few pages with urgency. More of information than on insights/analysis. Also, felt a lack of continuity and depth.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pankaj Kumar

    An interesting read about the maritime history surrounding the Indian ocean. The author has done a great job exploring the means how the trade right since the Harappan Era has shaped the civilizations in and around the Indian Ocean. He also challenges with facts the racist belief of the superior race of "Aryans" shaping the history of the world. The author starts by describing the Harappan civilization in BCE, gradually progressing in the time line to show how the trade in the east coast closely An interesting read about the maritime history surrounding the Indian ocean. The author has done a great job exploring the means how the trade right since the Harappan Era has shaped the civilizations in and around the Indian Ocean. He also challenges with facts the racist belief of the superior race of "Aryans" shaping the history of the world. The author starts by describing the Harappan civilization in BCE, gradually progressing in the time line to show how the trade in the east coast closely influenced both the economy and politics of SE-Asia. The stories of a prince from Orissa establishing the Sinhalese kingdom, of a prince from the Naga clan in Malay ruling the Cholas are quite interesting and makes one wonder whether globalization is truly a new phenomena? The author then tunnels through time to show the evolution of younger religions of Islam and Christianity and how they influenced the civilizations. Through the stories of war, valor and destruction one may be able to get the essence of the rivalries that exist till date. The author finally moves to modern history describing the rise and fall of European powers ending finally with World War-II. He also challenges some of the long held norms about empires, religion and kings of old. We consider Turks to be Ancient India's nemesis, but were the Portuguese any less? Was Ashoka really the great? Was Tipu Sultan actually a selfless freedom fighter? Was Indian Independence achieved through the work of one man/party? Reading through the book makes you see the other side of people that is not shown in the school textbooks we have read our history from and neither in the grand palaces we visit today in memory of so called "great" rulers. At the same time the author talks about many such unsung heroes who did great acts of heroics for the country or dynasty but are now no where in the books we read. For example, how many of us know about the heroic act of the erstwhile CM of Orissa - Shri. Biju Pattnaik that decided the future of Singapore as we know today. Overall two key takeaways apart from the book apart from the enlightening history were: 1) The world is never black or white, it only has a varying shade of grey, 2) Time is the greatest of all entities, it has both the power to raise and devour the greatest of all empires and emperors.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Harshad Sharma

    This is a fascinating read of how Indian Ocean influenced India History. We forget that the major portion of contemporary Indian history is always a narrative from the inland empirical view. This book flies in the face of that school of thought that the power center of India has always been inland in Delhi or that there India has been a land based land route trading empire.. Moreover and the thing i like the most about this book is the fascinating stories of simple people, simple traders and peo This is a fascinating read of how Indian Ocean influenced India History. We forget that the major portion of contemporary Indian history is always a narrative from the inland empirical view. This book flies in the face of that school of thought that the power center of India has always been inland in Delhi or that there India has been a land based land route trading empire.. Moreover and the thing i like the most about this book is the fascinating stories of simple people, simple traders and people long forgotten by Indian Historians who achieved magnificent feats. The Warrior Queens of Ullal who fought and repulsed the Portuguese from India Western Coast. and , Marthanda Varma, the ruler of Travancore who defeated the Dutch in a Navel Battle and ended their dream of colonial empire. The nameless soldiers who fought in from Greco-Persian Wars to the WW2 for other's cause. This book gives us the missing link in the Indian history, so many people made India what it is, and left their influence on the world, the Southern Kingdoms on India of Cholas and Pandyas, the Chalukyas and vakatakas, the matrilineal customs of South-India passed on to the Majapahit empire and Angkor empires of South-East Asia which was the direct result of oceanic trade between India and the south east Asia which in return is the result of Eastern Asia having so many powerful female leaders while Western coast of Indian Ocean have almost none. The mid-15th 16th century competition between the European powers to share the immense wealth flowing in Indian Ocean, the opium wars, the brutal massacre in Indonesia by the dutch,the naval mutiny for the Indian independence which is all but forgotten, the modernization of the region and emerging of trade super hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong, Indian Ocean always have been churning and producing fascinating results and is still churning, who knows what the future hold for us.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aditya Kulkarni

    It is really an outstanding book. A friend of mine recommended Sanjeev Sanyal to me and I started reading his books in the chronological order in which he has written them. I guess that was a good decision from my end because I have liked each book more than the previous one and this is quite easily the best from him so far. Very often than not, when we speak of history, we restrict ourselves to the terrestrial form of history and restrict ourselves to a history of a particular country or land. It is really an outstanding book. A friend of mine recommended Sanjeev Sanyal to me and I started reading his books in the chronological order in which he has written them. I guess that was a good decision from my end because I have liked each book more than the previous one and this is quite easily the best from him so far. Very often than not, when we speak of history, we restrict ourselves to the terrestrial form of history and restrict ourselves to a history of a particular country or land. In this book, Sanjeev Sanyal writes about the maritime history and how the Indian Ocean was impacted by it and how it impacted the affairs of the world. The book tries to answer a lot of questions such as why is the South East Asian culture so similar to Indian culture. Why is Bali still predominantly a Hindu island despite the rest of Indonesia being home to the largest Muslim population in the world? The book gives a good idea about the history of all the countries that share links with the Indian Ocean which includes India, Indonesia, Australia, Sri Lanka, and so on. Indian Ocean is the only ocean out of the four which is named after a country and after reading this book, you'll know the answer why is it so. The Indian subcontinent played a vital role in the global trade for a large part of history and a lot of this was possible because of the Indian Ocean.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mallika Saharia

    What I loved most about this book was how the entire chronology of the evolution of trade along the Indian Ocean has been discretised into small, palatable stories. Coincidentally, I took this book along with me while travelling to Singapore and Indonesia- that made it even more fascinating for me to trace back observations/ seeming similarities to possible origins in different parts of our country. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deepanjan Roy

    Awesome Read Awesome Read that opens up new vistas of knowledge for anyone interested in how what we are today is a sythesis of what we did yesterday

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anuradha Goyal

    Detailed review here http://www.anureviews.com/ocean-churn... Detailed review here http://www.anureviews.com/ocean-churn...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ajay

    Enjoyed reading this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sahila Kudalkar

    Before you start reading, be aware that this work, perhaps like all of history itself, is subjective. The Ocean of Churn is a well-researched book, but is influenced by Sanyal's own beliefs (especially towards the end with phrases such as 'stifled by the social economist model imposed by Nehru', or his silence on how the Mughals ruled post the brutal raids by Md. Ghori and the like). Some parts of the book seem speculative such as 'It was commonly argued by colonial-era scholars that India was n Before you start reading, be aware that this work, perhaps like all of history itself, is subjective. The Ocean of Churn is a well-researched book, but is influenced by Sanyal's own beliefs (especially towards the end with phrases such as 'stifled by the social economist model imposed by Nehru', or his silence on how the Mughals ruled post the brutal raids by Md. Ghori and the like). Some parts of the book seem speculative such as 'It was commonly argued by colonial-era scholars that India was not a country but merely a geographical term...' and one wishes Sanyal had tried to explain how a scattering of kingdoms makes a country. Despite all these shortcomings, and parts where Sanyal expresses a potential hypothesis on the basis of his feelings alone (could have been phrased better perhaps), this is a wonderful and refreshing narrative of the evolution of the civilisation in the Indian Ocean. Sanyal's work is informed by the latest findings in archaeology in the region and makes a conscious effort to depart from the Euro-centric viewpoint that Indian textbooks propagate. The writing style is simple, focusing on stories and legends to put forth an idea and supporting it with recent findings of archaeological research. The first chapter of the book is especially informative and debunks the Aryan invasion theory commonly used to explain how humans entered India. Sanyal traces how Indian civilisation evolved, suggests humans adopted agriculture while building stone monuments as recorded in Turkey and Java, wonders if the Harappan civilisation collapsed as a result of climate change affecting river Saraswati, follows trade routes to Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, suggests the Sinhalese descend from Odisha. He focuses on coastal history, as compared to the terrestrial versions we are used to and goes on to explain how matrilineal societies might have evolved on the coast, how human movement between Southeast Asia and India might have affected the fate of the Pallava dynasty, how temples functioned as banks for merchant guilds, and how religion, spices and cultural exchange enriched the region. However, the Turkic invasion and the subsequent Mughal sultanate are given little space, besides to document the brutality of the initial invasions, for example the destruction of Nalanda and Vikramshila universities, and annihilation of Hampi. The European dominion is similarly described in a few pages, but is remarkable for (i) highlighting the brutality of 'civilising natives' e.g. Puputan or The Last Stand by the Balinese against the Dutch (ii) capturing the geopolitical compulsions of the period. All in all, this is a great refresher book on Indian history and should be read by anyone who has ever wondered about the complex tangle of social, cultural, language and religious links that connect India and her neighbours.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susmita Kundu

    Maritime history is often overlooked in discussions on Indian history. Come to think of it, many turning point in Indian history has happened through maritime events e.g. 1) Both Islam and Christianity arrived in India through sea route in present day Kerala. 2) Vasco da Gama's arrival in Calicut and subsequent opening of sea route to India from Europe. Mainstream texts often make us believe that maritime activities in the Indian Ocean began with the European colonial powers like the Portuguese an Maritime history is often overlooked in discussions on Indian history. Come to think of it, many turning point in Indian history has happened through maritime events e.g. 1) Both Islam and Christianity arrived in India through sea route in present day Kerala. 2) Vasco da Gama's arrival in Calicut and subsequent opening of sea route to India from Europe. Mainstream texts often make us believe that maritime activities in the Indian Ocean began with the European colonial powers like the Portuguese and the Spaniards trying to discover routes to India. In reality, Indian and Arab merchants have been trading their fares long before the Europeans came to the scene. In fact, India had formidable kingdoms of the Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas , Pallavas , Palas etc. that were involved in socio-cultural-political exchanges with the Kingdoms of Srivijaya, Champa, Majapahit, Angkor in present day areas of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Vietnam etc. using ocean routes. The book covers these exchanges in much detail with delightful anecdotes in between. The book then discusses the colonial activities of the Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish and the British from the 15th century till the mid 20th century when the colonial rule ended in the Indian Ocean area. It also offers a commentary on how different independent countries fared in post colonial times. E.g. South Africa in the West Indian Ocean and India & Singapore in the East Indian Ocean. Although it is a well written book, the narrative is a bit loosely bound. Individual chapters form interesting reads however, don't expect the narrative arc to develop as the book progresses. Great read for anyone interested in History. The book is well researched and easy to read. Looking forward to read Sanyal's other books as well.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Parth

    It is said that the ancient Sanskrit name for the Indian Ocean is "Ratnākara (रत्नाकर)" - Ocean of Gems. While reading this book, I also felt like swimming through the ocean of gems myself - gems in the form of amusing trivia and facts. Luckily, I came across this book in that year of my life in which I've traveled good deal in the Indian ocean countries of Vietnam and Indonesia. This book is a great source of information on anthropology, history and geography of Indian Ocean region - stretching It is said that the ancient Sanskrit name for the Indian Ocean is "Ratnākara (रत्नाकर)" - Ocean of Gems. While reading this book, I also felt like swimming through the ocean of gems myself - gems in the form of amusing trivia and facts. Luckily, I came across this book in that year of my life in which I've traveled good deal in the Indian ocean countries of Vietnam and Indonesia. This book is a great source of information on anthropology, history and geography of Indian Ocean region - stretching from Cape of Good Hope of Africa to western end of Great Barrier Riff of Australia. Being Gujarati, I also specifically liked the chapter of geographical and seismic changes in the Gujarat region. The book starts right from the time zero (initial migratory period of homo erectus) and ends with current era of conversion of Bombay to Mumbai and spectacular growth of commercial hub of Singapore. The best thing about Sanjeev is that he is a real "Researcher" in a sense that he has traveled to various sites and countries mentioned in the book himself, has met the local sources in person, and has put a first person account of facts and histories. This is refreshing in current times of arm-chair authors and data-miners. If you are a history buff, this book is a must buy for yourself. You will surely learn a lot many new facts and interesting minutiae.. :)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vaibhav Kulkarni

    A good account of History of the Indian Ocean.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rosun Rajkumar

    Genre: non-fiction My rating: 4/5 I started The Ocean of Churn by Sanjeev Sanyal for a book club and it turned out to be such a happy accident. Sanjeev's book talks about how civilizations have formed, survived and evolved with the Indian Ocean rim at the center of it. This would mean history of the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, Australia, East Africa and the Middle East. A lot of it which we already know and which reads like a quick refresher; also a lot of tall and interesting claims whi Genre: non-fiction My rating: 4/5 I started The Ocean of Churn by Sanjeev Sanyal for a book club and it turned out to be such a happy accident. Sanjeev's book talks about how civilizations have formed, survived and evolved with the Indian Ocean rim at the center of it. This would mean history of the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, Australia, East Africa and the Middle East. A lot of it which we already know and which reads like a quick refresher; also a lot of tall and interesting claims which I didn't know of. I'm a huge sucker for non-fiction although it means more commitment than reading fiction in terms of reading time. While historians/writers tend to take themselves too seriously, Sanjeev is refreshingly witty. One has to appreciate his sense of humour. He tries to stick to a neutral tone as against taking sides. Which is not to say he is not assertive when he needs to. I enjoyed reading about the rise and fall of the Indus-Saraswati civilization. Also, the little uncovering that he does on popular historical heroes like Emperor Ashoka and Tipu Sultan is smart and interesting. He has dwelt on the power of the matrilineal system which is prevalent in South East Asian and Indian history and it's fascinating. I learnt, for instance, about queen warrior Rani Abbakka; didn't know her at all prior to this. Sanjeev does take few generous liberties with some of his theories (or extrapolation of known/oral histories) but I can take that with a pinch of salt because it helps the larger narrative. It didn't feel like manipulation to me. All in all, this is a fun historical non-fiction read. He breaks down long, complex histories into easy, digestible bits for lay-readers like us. Recommended!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Manish Gupta

    A very enjoyable and enriching voyage through the indian ocean. The rich indian history has been brought alive via the ocean and is a welcome change from the north centered view of indian history. The books also untangles the mysteries behind the rich indian culture observed in south east asia and other places. Delightful passages of travel accounts are inter spread throughout the book. Little known heroes/heroines from the coastal kindgdoms of India are brought to life and their courage celebra A very enjoyable and enriching voyage through the indian ocean. The rich indian history has been brought alive via the ocean and is a welcome change from the north centered view of indian history. The books also untangles the mysteries behind the rich indian culture observed in south east asia and other places. Delightful passages of travel accounts are inter spread throughout the book. Little known heroes/heroines from the coastal kindgdoms of India are brought to life and their courage celebrated. A fascinating read. Highly recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vipul Murarka

    I had read this quote somewhere “Mountains are conservative, seas are liberal”. When I picked up the book “The Ocean of Churn – How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History” by Sanjeev Sanyal, I thought it will be another book that will tell how Indians have been instrumental in world history. I am firm believer that it is not just one race, one person or one event that has influence but a diverse set of people, things, instances that lead to a better world. So I am not sure why I picked up this bo I had read this quote somewhere “Mountains are conservative, seas are liberal”. When I picked up the book “The Ocean of Churn – How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History” by Sanjeev Sanyal, I thought it will be another book that will tell how Indians have been instrumental in world history. I am firm believer that it is not just one race, one person or one event that has influence but a diverse set of people, things, instances that lead to a better world. So I am not sure why I picked up this book but let me tell you, I am grateful (to myself) that I picked up this book. First of all I would like to say that in our schools, it is this book that should be taught. When I was in school I dreaded history because it was boring, there were so many loose ends of which no one had the answer to and thus it didn’t make any sense. This book begins literally from separation of India from Africa, to evolution and culminates at disappearance of Europeans from Indian Ocean nations. This way most of my questions got answered such as - How did Parsis come to India - Christianity was at its peak in Middle East. Then how did Islam become prominent - What are the linkages of many South East Asian countries to India - What made Buddhism and Islam dominate south east asian nations - How did the geography of countries (in Indian Ocean) come about after big bang - How did the homo sapiens who left Africa reached India, then further south east and Australia - Who all ruled India and how did their reigns come to end and many more - Why is there matrilineal society in south east asia but not in western parts of Indian Ocean - How did the fossils remains of Marine animals come to Himalayas The book gave answers to all of the above and many more. And it was not only that India only had impact on the nations around Indian Ocean. It was vice versa. For instance, Nalanda University attracted students from the Indian Ocean rim as well as from China and Central Asia. However, it was partly funded by the kings of Sumatra. Many more interesting facts such as Yale University in the US was founded on the money that was made by the side deals of the founder when he was with British India Company. The book largely follows amazing path at explaining how we around the Indian Ocean have evolved. The book talks about countries right from South Africa to China including all the countries that are around the rim of Indian Ocean. He also beautifully explains how around the 12th century, civilization around Indian ocean can be seen as Islamic Zone, Indic Zone, and Chinese Zone. And how later these zones will be dislocated when Mongols burst out of Central Asia and then when Europeans would come to Indian ocean in search of Spices. It then goes on the tie the thread of how withdrawal of China left the Indian Ocean for Arab dominance but was taken over by Europeans thereby bringing the age of colonialism. While discussing the shores, the author has also highlighted the importance of land of how people middle east would take the land route to come all the way to India in the northern parts. Sanjeev Sanyal points out what made him write this book. According to him, all of the books on Indian Ocean fall in two categories – first would be the histories written from western perspective wherein they assume that the history of Indian Ocean began with the arrival of Portugese. The second group would consist of indigenous scholars who would describe the history from a local perspective. Sanyal has beautifully tried to bridge these two groups. While doing this, he also has tried to shaken some myths that Tipu Sultan and Ashoka were great leaders. He showed the dark sides of them. His amazing research by digging deep into archaeology and evolution has led to a more sympathetic account of myth and folklore in relation to science. The second half of the book is a racy read that covers everything from Waq Waq dynasty to rise of Arabs. This book is not only from an inland perspective but clearly also takes into account the happenings around the Indian Ocean countries. One thing that this author clearly states is that not only did he rely on studies, texts while writing the book, he went to the locations mentioned in the book once he had a general idea of the narrative. Thus this book seems more like a story than a history. Anyone even with a slightest of interest of how things evolved in India and in Indian Ocean must pick up this book and you will not be able to put it down.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    This is a geographic and historical overview of the Indian Ocean from the geological processes that created it to the wave of independence movements that took hold in the wake of the Second World War. The author’s approach is to emphasize the interaction between – rather than within – the various nations of this region. [Though, India in particular, gets a great deal of space devoted to internal happenings. However, given its central location (trading to both the east and the west,) its size, an This is a geographic and historical overview of the Indian Ocean from the geological processes that created it to the wave of independence movements that took hold in the wake of the Second World War. The author’s approach is to emphasize the interaction between – rather than within – the various nations of this region. [Though, India in particular, gets a great deal of space devoted to internal happenings. However, given its central location (trading to both the east and the west,) its size, and its cultural influence on the region, it’s not necessarily the case that this is an unfair bias.] I was happy to find a book that seemed to be just what I was looking for. Having lived in India for more than five years, I’ve often been struck by the intriguing evidence of interconnectedness that I didn’t have the historical background to understand. From a discussion with a Nairobi cab driver who had no idea that chapati (a flat bread common in South Asia, but eaten as far afield as the Caribbean) was anything other than an indigenous Kenyan culinary invention to the fact that Tamil is one of the official languages of Singapore, I’ve often found myself curious about how these connections came to be. This book didn’t disappoint. Sanyal delves right into the fascinating fun facts without getting too bogged down in the who married whom and who fought whom that quickly becomes the tediousness contributing to a lack of enthusiasm for the subject of History among school children. (That said, there is – probably necessarily – some of the stuff that students are forced to memorize, here and there.) The approach of the book, after an introductory chapter that gives the reader a contextual introduction to the region, is to proceed chronologically. This means the book starts out more geology, geography, and anthropology and gradually becomes more of a history. In the later half of the book, this history is particularly an economic history focused on the products whose trade drove interaction in the region – be it for conflict or for cooperation. Trade is important through out the region’s history, but we also see a lot the spread of culture earlier, especially the spread of religion. From the spice that was much coveted in Europe to the opium that the British East India Company used to balance its trade with China (resulting in the Opium Wars,) this trade has had a profound impact on the world in which we live. There are many graphics throughout the book, primarily maps. These are extremely beneficial. The book is annotated with end-notes that provide sources and elaborations. I found this book to be both interesting and entertaining. The author throws in a one-liner joke now and again, but what I really found humorous were the fictions that were widely believed back in the day. Most of these resulted from merchants telling tall tales to make asking prices more palatable. It’s harder to scoff the price of a diamond if one thinks they were guarded over by gigantic snakes and the only way to get them was to throw meat into a canyon so that Eagles (the only things that could out move the snakes) might snatch up a diamond with its steak. It is also fascinating to learn how the same stories were heard from different sources, suggesting that false information behaving like an infection isn’t new to the internet age. If I had one criticism of the book, it would be that in the final chapters the author leaves behind the historical objectivity that seems prevalent throughout most of the book. Instead of presenting the information and letting the reader make up their own mind about such events as Subhas Chandra Bose’s (Netaji’s) courting of the Nazis during the Second World War, Sanyal shapes the information he feeds to readers to persuade rather than to inform. I didn’t notice this in earlier parts of the book and suspect it was just easier to be dispassionate about the distant past. All-in-all, I’d recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more about history and trade across the Indian Ocean. I learned a great deal, and found the book readable and intriguing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vijay Ivaturi

    “The Ocean of Churn – How Indian Ocean Shaped Human History” brilliantly captures the events in human history that revolved around Indian Ocean. This book is mainly India centric but also gives a good view into the world of East Africa, Arabs, Turks, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Malays and lastly, the Chinese. And above all, it talks very clearly about the rogue adventures of European nations which currently take moral high ground and act as better civilized societies than rest of the World. Sanjeev “The Ocean of Churn – How Indian Ocean Shaped Human History” brilliantly captures the events in human history that revolved around Indian Ocean. This book is mainly India centric but also gives a good view into the world of East Africa, Arabs, Turks, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Malays and lastly, the Chinese. And above all, it talks very clearly about the rogue adventures of European nations which currently take moral high ground and act as better civilized societies than rest of the World. Sanjeev Sanyal is an accomplished Economist and a good Historian as well. He is currently (2017) a Principal Economic Adviser in Ministry of Finance, Government of India. I have become a big fan of Mr Sanyal after reading this book and have now purchased his previous book “Land of Seven Rivers – A brief history of India’s geography”. He starts the book stating his view on how history is traditionally written and how European writers and have completely skewed the World history in a way that suits their own countries. Never did I imagine reading a book that would start 270 million years ago and end in the 21st century. This book just does that. It is a 250+ pages one only but provides just about enough information for readers to get familiarized with our history. There are so many dimensions to our history and Sanjeev Sanyal takes a calculated path events are described in their chronological order. Key strength of this book is the way it links smaller events in history to something major. It also gives a perspective on various things or persons or places that we keep hearing regularly but are not aware of their historical importance. The book does lose its focus towards the end where a lot of print space is dedicated to WW-2 and India. While there is nothing wrong in this, such a detailed account of a 20 year period goes against the briskness with which the earlier historical events were dealt with. What I really like about this book is the fact that it covers a very broad spectrum of events. Harappa civilization, Mauryas, Satavahanas, South India rulers, influence of Indian kings, merchants, Hinduism on South Asia. The list is endless and extremely interesting to read. I wish the author gave more important to non-political events post AD 1500 events. It almost comes out as if the only thing which mattered in history is the wars and kings. How the lives of people evolved, science, technology, climate etc simply takes a backseat in the book, especially towards the latter part. Claude Shannon, considered as the father of information theory, was once addressing a group of Japanese students and made this statement – "I don’t know how history is taught here in Japan, but in the United States in my college days, most of the time was spent on study of political leaders and wars – Caesars, Napoleons, and Hitlers. I think this is totally wrong. The important people and events in history are the thinkers and innovators, the Darwins, Newtons, Beethovens whose work continues to grow in influence in a positive fashion" But this alone does not make any dent to the readability of this book. Simply brilliant. A must have for every Indian who want to knows beyond the headlines.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ravi Singh

    This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish! It is well researched and written in free flowing, easy style with an aim to let you enjoy the experience rather than encumber you with stodgy, academic prose. The critics of this book are reflecting their own biases rather than anything the book offers. The author more often than not just states his research and lets you make up your own mind. He does draw your attention to various events that have been consigned to the backroom of history mo This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish! It is well researched and written in free flowing, easy style with an aim to let you enjoy the experience rather than encumber you with stodgy, academic prose. The critics of this book are reflecting their own biases rather than anything the book offers. The author more often than not just states his research and lets you make up your own mind. He does draw your attention to various events that have been consigned to the backroom of history mostly by design by those who came in later and could control the narrative. Readers would fall into the usual category of those happy to learn the vast and rich history of the subcontinent from a fresh perspective and other who think western authors can't do any wrong. He obviously chose to give us a reasonably short, interesting version we are likely to read, rather than a voluminous account that would just adorn the bookshelves of a few. Think of it as a great primer and introduction after reading which you can delve deeper into the aspects that most intrigued you. Choosing to base his narrative from the ocean inwards brought out some of the great moments of our history which we usually wouldn't be aware of. Eg. Marthanda Varma's crushing of the Dutch in the Battle of Colachel is a relatively unknown defeat of an European Power (a superpower arguably at that time) which preceded the much better known Japanese defeat of the Russians by nearly 2 centuries. In addition he takes away the focus from the North of the country to the South. This is important because the Southern empires were able to expand the Indic influence far and wide and do not get enough credit in the standard history books. Centuries are consigned to mere paragraphs whereas some decades of the North get pages devoted. Breaking down Ashoka and his times was probably a bold and important part of this book. It is just another example of how we have lapped up whatever we've been told without really examining it. The same can be said of the last chapter. It is particularly important from the Indian point of view because it calls out the firmly established notion of how we got our independence and gives various events and personalities their rightful place in history. Understandably people will take issue with that, but facts speak for themselves.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sanket Tilekar

    The whole history of world right from evolution of human till current time seen through the eyes of Indian ocean. This book covers quite a large period of history of trades, and rise and fall of empires around the Indian ocean coast. Despite it's large coverage the small details and stories make it very interesting read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Priyank Bhavsar

    History taught in schools is unfairly focused upon the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent and it is often taken for granted that all the major political changes took place in the north and there is utter disregard for coastal history. Studying political-economy one realises that substantial research in regard with India's coastal history is yet to be carried out. The discipline of political economy begins with Mesopotamian empire and comes down to European Mercantilism, with a mere mention History taught in schools is unfairly focused upon the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent and it is often taken for granted that all the major political changes took place in the north and there is utter disregard for coastal history. Studying political-economy one realises that substantial research in regard with India's coastal history is yet to be carried out. The discipline of political economy begins with Mesopotamian empire and comes down to European Mercantilism, with a mere mention of the subcontinent as a major trading centre, sadly nothing more than that. In the study of International Relations political -economy has long focused on European history and has recently moved on to Silk Road. India's political-economy begins with arrival of colonial powers. Often concentration is upon the continental empires and maritime history is given less importance. Angus Maddison provides fabulous figures highlighting India's gigantic share in Global wealth. But what about the history of amassing of such wealth? Was this wealth concentrated in the Northern plains alone, or in Peninsular India or Coastal India? Who were the movers of this wealth? Much of India's historical political economy is yet to be researched. And Sanjeev Sanyal provides a fresh perspective on the issue. Diving into the history of grand empires of South India and tracing down stories of few individuals who have been long remembered by the locals but unknown to us, Sanyal tries to justify the importance of the Indian Ocean littoral in global history, though not enough to accord the Indian Ocean a respectable place in the discipline of political-economy. Perhaps, there was intellectual analysis and larger statecraft and diplomacy and mean imperial designs attached with the normal activity of trade around Indian Ocean, in the past too. If at all any such thought existed in past it becomes difficult to find out for the lack of efficient documentation in Indian tradition. As the mankind continues to struggle with the idea of Racial and Ethnic past and is in constant search of the ultimate unknown identity that it may have borne in past, comprehensive and profound study on political economy of the Indian Ocean might turn out to be helpful.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sunil Mathur

    The book is a very commendable effort by the author to bring forth the historical events and personalities that may go into obscurity if not mentioned. The extensive travels by the author to verify the places and events lends that much authenticity to the book. The first part of the book contains facts collected from varying sources and not present in written form anywhere. This part does not seem coherent in terms of either chronology or the dynasties / personalities. This part could have been The book is a very commendable effort by the author to bring forth the historical events and personalities that may go into obscurity if not mentioned. The extensive travels by the author to verify the places and events lends that much authenticity to the book. The first part of the book contains facts collected from varying sources and not present in written form anywhere. This part does not seem coherent in terms of either chronology or the dynasties / personalities. This part could have been organized better to make it easier reading. The second part which presents more recent history is clearly explained largely because of the available information. I feel the positive facts from India history should be included in the school and college curriculum. This will make the citizens proud of their heritage and uplift the self image of whole society.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Iami Menotu

    A enjoyable read about the history of the Indian Ocean

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.