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Brief History of a Civilization

Second Edition

Thomas R. Trautmann

Publication Date - January 2015

ISBN: 9780190202491

256 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

Providing a brief overview of a very long period and allowing students to acquire a mental map of the entire history of Indian civilization in a short book


India: Brief History of a Civilization, Second Edition, provides a brief overview of a very long period, allowing students to acquire a mental map of the entire history of Indian civilization in a short book. Most comprehensive histories devote a few chapters to the early history of India and an increasing number of pages to the more recent period, giving an impression that early history is mere background and that Indian civilization finds its fulfillment in the nation-state. Thomas R. Trautmann believes that the deep past lives on and is a valuable resource for understanding the present day and for creating a viable future. The result is a book that is short enough to read in a few sittings, but comprehensive in coverage--5,000 years of India in brief.

New to this Edition

  • More discussion of climate, landscape, and human settlement in early Indian history
  • New maps
  • Two new sections: "The Epics: Mahabharata and Ramayana" and "South India and the Deccan"
  • A substantially revised discussion of the influence of Indian civilization upon Southeast Asia that examines the concept of "Indianizing kingdoms," looking at how aspects of Indian civilization were spread through the international trade in luxuries and diplomatic relations of Indian kings with kings of Southeast Asia

About the Author(s)

Thomas R. Trautmann is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Michigan. He is the editor of The Aryan Debate (OUP, 2008) and the author of Elephants and Kings: An Environmental History (2015), Arthashastra: The Science of Wealth (2012), Languages and Nations (2006), and Aryans and British India (2004).

Previous Publication Date(s)

July 2010


"This book is comprehensive, yet short; scholarly, yet accessible. It is the one book I would recommend to anyone who would like a great introduction to Indian history."--Sylvia Gray, Portland Community College

"Thomas R. Trautmann has produced the rarest of birds: a lucid, compelling, and yet sophisticated introductory text. Trautmann provides the kind of long historical sweep--from the ancient past to the present--that serves as the perfect foil for understanding the historical dynamics of the region. There is simply no other single guide to South Asia that matches either his fine balance of coverage between different historical periods or his signature combination of enormous erudition with absolute clarity. This book synthesizes and distills the lifetime's understanding of a master historian."--Mrinalini Sinha, University of Michigan

"Trautmann is one of the few scholars qualified to speak with authority on the entire span of Indian civilization, from its ancient roots to its modern present. He has done so in a masterly fashion, without sacrificing sophistication to brevity."--Sumit Guha, University of Texas at Austin

"This book does what few other introductory texts on South Asian history do-renders all 5,000 years of India accessible to undergraduates--not just the last few hundred or so. It is written with a vision and elegance that are the hallmark of Trautmann's scholarship. His mastery of the history and anthropology of India--both ancient and modern--is subtly distilled into this readable gem of a book. It is an invaluable contribution and a pleasure to teach."--A. Azfar Moin, University of Texas at Austin

Table of Contents

    About the Book

    1. Introduction
    India, Indians, Indian Civilization
    The History of Indian Civilization
    The Landscape of Indian Civilization

    2. The Beginnings of Indian Civilization
    Mohenjo-daro and Harappa
    Economy, Technology, Writing
    Origin and Destiny of the Indus Civilization

    3. The Vedic Age
    The Rig Veda
    Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan
    The Later Veda
    The Epics: Mahabharata and Ramayana

    4. New Religions, New Empires
    Religions of Renunciation
    The Rise of Magadha
    The Mauryas

    5. Classical India
    The Formation of Classical Indian Civilization (187 BCE-320 CE)
    The Classical Age (320-600 CE)
    Late Classical Indian Civilization (600-1000 CE)

    6. Family, Society, Polity

    7. Mentalities
    Classical Arts and Letters

    8. The World That India Made
    Central Asia
    East Asia
    Southeast Asia
    The Middle East and Europe

    9. Turks and Mughals
    Islam and India

    10. Europeans
    European Merchants
    British Rule
    India and European Civilization

    11. The Nation-State
    The Emergence of Indian Nationalism
    Gandhi and Jinnah
    Partition and Independence

    12. New Nations
    The Republic of India
    Pakistan and Bangladesh
    Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives
    Indian Civilization and the Future

    Further Reading