Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

India, War and the Armed Forces: Books to read


Our soldiers’ heroism and valour is perhaps not talked about enough. As the country celebrates Army Day, here are books by various authors on the history of India at war, accounts of fighting and stories from the border. Learn more about the impact of war: personally and politically.

Also included are some titles to introduce the special forces to your children: they talk about life in the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

The Raj at War

At the heart of The Raj at Warare the many lives and voices of ordinary Indian people. Yasmin Khan presents the hidden and sometimes overlooked history of India at war, and shows how mobilisation for the war introduced seismic processes of economic, cultural and social change―decisively shaping the international war effort, the unravelling of the empire and India’s own political and economic trajectory.



A Revolutionary History of Interwar India

Focusing on the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA), A Revolutionary History… delivers a fresh perspective on the ambitions, ideologies and practices of this influential organization formed by Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh and inspired by transnational anti-imperial dissent. It is a new interpretation of the activities and political impact of the north Indian revolutionaries who advocated the use of political violence against the British.


India’s War

Between 1939 and 1945 India changed to an extraordinary extent. Millions of Indians suddenly found themselves as soldiers, fighting in Europe and North Africa but also – something simply never imagined – against a Japanese army threatening to invade eastern India. Many more were pulled into the vortex of wartime mobilization.

Srinath Raghavan’s compelling and original book gives both a surprising new account of the fighting and of life on the home front.



Learn all about an exceptional way of life SHOOT, DIVE, FLY aims to introduce teenagers to the armed forces and tell them about the perils-the rigours and the challenges-and perks-the thrill and the adventure-of a career in uniform. Ballroom dancing, flying fighter planes, detonating bombs, skinning and eating snakes in times of dire need, and everything else in between-there’s nothing our officers can’t do!. Read twenty-one nail-biting stories of daring. Hear from some amazing men and women about what the forces have taught them-and decide if the olivegreen uniform is what you want to wear too.


Vijyant at Kargil

This was the last letter Captain Vijyant Thapar wrote to his family. He was twenty-two when he was martyred in the Kargil War, having fought bravely in the crucial battles of Tololing and Knoll. A fourth-generation army officer, Vijyant dreamt of serving his country even as a young boy. In this first-ever biography, we learn about his journey to join the Indian Military Academy and the experiences that shaped him into a fine officer.



Kargil takes you into the treacherous mountains where some of Indian Army’s bloodiest battles were fought. Interviewing war survivors and martyrs’ families, Rachna Bisht Rawat tells stories of extraordinary human courage, of not just men in uniform but also those who loved them the most. With its gritty stories of incomparable bravery, Kargil is a tribute to the 527 young braves who gave up their lives for us-and the many who were ready to do it too.


Guns, Guts and Glory

The perfect boxset to gift: this has three titles. 1965: Stories from the Second Indo-Pakistan War, Shoot, Dive, Fly: Stories of Grit and Adventure from the Indian Army and The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories that share stories from the war


India’s Most Fearless I &II

India’s Most Fearless covers fourteen true stories of extraordinary courage and fearlessness, providing a glimpse into the kind of heroism our soldiers display in unthinkably hostile conditions and under grave provocation. The highly anticipated sequel to India’s Most Fearless brings you fourteen more stories of astonishing fearlessness, and gets you closer than ever before to the personal bravery that Indian military men display in the line of duty.



On 1 September 1965, Pakistan invaded Chamb district in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering a series of tank battles, operations and counter-operations. It was only the bravery and well-executed strategic decisions of the soldiers of the Indian Army that countered the very real threat of losing Kashmir to Pakistan. Recounting the battles fought by five different regiments, the narrative reconstructs the events of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, outlining details never revealed before, and remembers its unsung heroes.


The Brave 

Twenty-one riveting stories about how India’s highest military honor was won. Rachna Bisht Rawat takes us to the heart of war, chronicling the tales of twenty-one of India’s bravest soldiers. Talking to parents, siblings, children and comrades-in-arms to paint the most vivid character-portraits of these men and their conduct in battle and getting unprecedented access to the Indian Army, Rawat has written the ultimate book on the Param Vir Chakra.



My Mother is in the Indian Air Force  

Rohan thinks his mom is a bit like a a superhero-she flies in to save the day, she loops and swoops between the clouds, she even jumps off planes wearing parachutes! But her job demands that she keep moving from place to place, and Rohan doesn’t want to move again. Not this time. Can he find a way to stay?

Read on to find out about the people and their families whose big and small acts of heroism make the Indian air force formidable!


My Father is in the Indian Army

Beena’s dad is in the Indian army, which means that when duty calls, he’s got to get going at once. Beena knows her dad’s job is important, but her birthday is coming up. She really, really wants her dad to be at home to celebrate with her. Will he be able to make it back in time?

Read on to find out about the people and their families whose big and small acts of heroism make the Indian army inspiring!


My Sister is in the Indian Navy

Nikky’s sister is in the navy. When her ship is in port, she and Nikky get to do lots of fun things together. Nikky would like to spend more time with his sister, and he doesn’t want her to leave, but he knows that, eventually, her sailing orders will arrive…

Read on to find out about the people and their families whose big and small acts of heroism make the Indian navy exemplary!

Kannur: Inside India's Bloodiest Revenge Politics by Ullekh N.P. – An Excerpt

Kannur, a sleepy coastal district in the scenic south Indian state of Kerala, has metamorphosed into a hotbed of political bloodshed in the past few decades. Even as India heaves into the age of technology and economic growth, the town has been making it to the national news for horrific crimes and brutal murders with sickening regularity. Ullekh N.P.’s latest book, Kannur: Inside India’s Bloodiest Revenge Politics draws a modern-day graph that charts out the reasons, motivations and the local lore behind the turmoil. 
As Sumantra Bose, Professor of international and comparative politics, London School of Economics and Political Science, mentions in his foreword for the book, “Ullekh N.P. is uniquely placed to write this chronicle of Kannur, both as a native of the place and as the son of the late Marxist leader Pattiam Gopalan. Being an ‘insider’— and a politically connected insider…Ullekh tells the story of unending horror with deadpan factuality, tinged with compassion in his latest book, Kannur: Inside India’s Bloodiest Revenge Politics.
Let’s read an excerpt from the book-
The news that hits headlines from Kannur these days is mostly about its law-and-order situation. TV scrolls announce items such as these with great frequency: ‘One killed in Muslim League–CPI(M) clashes’; ‘Two hurt in RSS–CPI(M) fracas’; ‘CPI(M) man killed, RSS men nabbed’; ‘RSS youth hacked, 7 CPI(M) men held’; ‘PFI [Popular Front of India] activists attacked’; ‘District Collector calls all-party peace meeting’, and so on.
The crime bureau statistics, as of November 2016, show that forty-five CPI(M) activists, forty-four BJP–RSS workers, fifteen Congressmen and four Muslim League followers have been killed since 1991 in Kannur, besides a few other murders of the cadres of parties such as the PFI. Between November 2000 and 2016, the number of party workers killed in Kannur was thirty-one from the RSS and BJP, and thirty from the CPI(M), according to data obtained from the police by the independent news website through a right-to-information request. While the RSS leaders claim that the CPI(M) are now doing to them what the Congress had done to the communists in the past, the CPI(M) leaders contest it, reeling off stats, and claiming that they have been forced to resist because the Hindu nationalists are hoping to effect a religious polarization through the politics of violence in order to reap electoral gains that have eluded them for long.
The latest numbers do not endorse the RSS’s claims of being a victim in this Left stronghold. Regardless, the Sangh has actively pursued a campaign, spiffily titled Redtrocity(short for Red Atrocity, referring to the reported high-handedness by the Marxists), as a counterweight to the series of accusations hurled against it for allegedly sowing religious hatred, perpetuating violence against non-conformists, triggering riots and deliberately aiding a mission to heighten communal hostilities.
Police records show that the RSS and the BJP have been at loggerheads not with the CPI(M)alone, but also with other parties, including the PFI and the Congress. Yet, equally laughable is the contention by the CPI(M) that it is portrayed as a villain without reason because it has only been engaging in acts of resistance and seldom in violent aggression.
Recent data show that from 1972 to December 2017, of  the 200 who died in political violence in Kannur district—which accounted for the highest number of political crimes
in the state during the period, far ahead of other districts—seventy-eight were from the CPI(M), sixty-eight from the RSS–BJP, thirty-six from the Congress, eight from the Indian
Union Muslim League (IUML), two each from the CPI and the National Development Front (now called the PFI), while the rest were from other parties. Notably, of the total 193 political murder cases that took place in Kannur during the period, 112 of the accused were from the Sangh Parivar and 110 from the CPI(M).
The RSS–BJP argue that the escalation of hostilities started with the killing of an RSS worker on 28 April 1969, but the Marxists aver that the death was a denouement to a series of clashes stemming from the RSS’s support to a beedi baron who refused his workers a justified hike in salary and shut his business before floating two new companies. Media reports often show that more communist workers have died in Kannur than those belonging to any other party. The greatest irony in the RSS–CPI(M) fights is that the pro-Hindu Sangh Parivar has had no qualms about targeting CPI(M)-dependent Hindus, while the Marxists, the much-touted saviours of the proletariat, vehemently, so the story goes, go after the working classes who happen to be aligned with the Hindu nationalists.
Along Payyambalam beach, not far from the grave of K.G. Marar, one of the RSS’s topmost leaders in the state, is a grave of a twenty-one-year old man. Too young to die, that’s what visitors to the place would say. Sachin Gopalan died from sword injuries in July 2012. Allegedly, he was hacked by members of the radical Islamist Campus Front, a feeder organization of the PFI against which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has now sought a ban for its anti-India activities. Gopal died at a hospital in Mangalore where he had arrived after shifting from one hospital to another in Kannur for want of better facilities. A student of a technical institute in the district, he was attacked when he had gone to a school for political work.
In the darkness of a late windswept evening, standing alone in the forbidding graveyard at Payyambalam, one is filled with evocative visions from the region’s chequered past and a violent present caught in the vortex of vendetta politics.
When I studied in a boarding school in Thiruvananthapuram, my classmates looked down on my hometown as Kerala’s Naples, a thuggish backwater; but then the district had
contributed two chief ministers (and one more later) as well as several luminaries to the state’s cultural, social, professional and political spheres.
I also came to be known as someone from the ‘Bihar of Kerala’. Later, I invented a rather self-deprecating phrase of my own: ‘the Sicily of Kerala’, factoring in the local omertà-
like code the Italian region was once known for. Poking fun at oneself does make sense, as it’s an effort to tide over the mental fatigue that sets in on being judged as a violent people, who are puritanical and foolish. Deep within, however, it hurts like a migraine.
The waves keep breaking hard on the shore like smooth knives on raw flesh.

What does a City Ravaged by War Look Like?

Everyday hearing the news makes war seem like a very real possibility.  But do we really know what happens to a city when it is hit by war?
In Exit West – a heartrending story of love in the time of a refugee crisis – Mohsin Hamid paints a searing picture of a city torn by war and the destruction that the people go through.
Here are some of heartbreaking  moments from Mohsin Hamid’s new novel.
Do you, too, have a war-time experience to share? Share with us!

error: Content is protected !!