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HarperCollins presents SHEIKH ABDULLAH - The Caged Lion of Kashmir by Chitralekha Zutshi

HarperCollins presents SHEIKH ABDULLAH - The Caged Lion of Kashmir by Chitralekha Zutshi
, Sunday, 17 December 2023 (15:25 IST)
New Delhi: Sheikh Abdullah: The Caged Lion of Kashmir is the second book in the Indian Lives series.
The Kashmiri leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah (1905-82) is one of the best-known and most controversial political figures of twentieth-century South Asia. A fierce Kashmiri nationalist, Abdullah is best remembered for opposing the Dogra monarchy's exploitative economic and political system; securing Jammu and Kashmir's accession to India in 1947; passing revolutionary land reforms as Prime Minister of J&K; and later for championing the cause of Kashmiri self-determination—as a consequence of which he was imprisoned for two decades—before coming to terms with the Indian government in 1975. He has been alternatively celebrated as a patriot and reviled as a traitor in Kashmir, in India and in Pakistan.
In this richly researched and elegantly crafted biography, renowned historian Chitralekha Zutshi transcends these labels by placing Abdullah's life in the context of critical global developments in the twentieth century. She deftly illustrates how his political trajectory—forged in the inequities of the princely state system and burnished in the flames of anti-colonial nationalism, Islamic universalism, socialism, communism, secularism, communalism, federalism and the Cold War—embodies the becoming of India itself. Based on new archival sources as well as oral histories, this book is as much a biography of one Kashmiri as that of an entire generation of leaders who shaped the politics and institutions of twentieth-century South Asia.
This is the second book in the Indian Lives series, edited and curated by Ramachandra Guha.
Chitralekha Zutshi says, "Writing a biography of Sheikh Abdullah was a challenging task. This is not only because he is a controversial political figure, but also because unlike most twentieth-century South Asian leaders, he did not leave behind a sizeable body of writing. Other than his letters, an occasional essay, some speeches and his autobiography, painting this portrait required that I draw on a much larger collection of sources. These included oral histories, press reports, government documents, visual materials, and the private papers of a slew of individuals who were associated with Abdullah. Thus, I crafted the narrative not from his perspective alone, but from the viewpoint of those around him, who shaped his political life in significant ways. I hope this biography allows readers to appreciate Abdullah's complexities as a nationalist, a political leader, a revolutionary, a prisoner and a head of state in the context of his engagement with his advisors, well-wishers, critics and interlocutors, as well as the broader canvas of the intellectual and socio-political currents of the global twentieth century."
Ramachandra Guha says, "I am truly delighted that Chitralekha Zutshi's biography of Sheikh Abdullah is the second volume to appear in the Indian Lives series. Many years of research are here brought together in a finely crafted work of scholarship, that provides an authoritative and richly readable account of Sheikh Abdullah's life and legacy. While focusing on Abdullah, Zutshi brings to bear her training as a social and political historian, such that through this story of this complex and controversial individual we learn an enormous amount about the contested histories of Kashmir, India, and Pakistan. This superb book should find a wide audience among those interested in history, biography, politics, and narrative non-fiction in general."
Udayan Mitra, Executive Publisher, HarperCollins says, "The second book in the prestigious Indian Lives series, edited by Ramachandra Guha, focuses on the life of a defining twentieth century personality: Sheikh Abdullah. Drawing on a wide variety of sources and bringing to light some previously little-known facts, Chitralekha Zutshi presents a compelling portrait of one of the most interesting and controversial figures of our time. We at HarperCollins are very proud to bring this new biography – which will enhance our understanding both of Kashmir and of modern India – to readers."

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