Best History Books for UPSC to Clear Exam in First Attempt

Best History Books for UPSC: A thorough knowledge of history is necessary for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam preparation. These books offer a strong basis for UPSC preparation and cover all facets of Indian history, from antiquity to the current period.

We are listing the best history books for UPSC in this post. If you want to crack UPSC in your first attempt, you should read these books.

List Of the Best History Books for UPSC

We highly recommend the following history books for UPSC preparation.

1. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra

One of the most detailed books on India’s independence movement is Bipan Chandra’s India’s Movement for Independence. It discusses the occasions and movements that prompted India to secede from the British Empire.

Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Non-Cooperation Movement, and the Quit India Movement are all discussed in depth in this book. For UPSC candidates, reading this book is essential since it clarifies the socio-political and economic forces that influenced India’s war for independence.

Using a range of historical sources and records, Bipan Chandra, together with co-authors Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, K.N. Panikkar, and Sucheta Mahajan, delivers a fair and thoroughly researched account. The book is widely considered an important reference for anyone wanting to comprehend the difficulties and intricacies of India’s path to freedom.

2. A History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir

Rajiv Ahir’s book “A History of Modern India” thoroughly analyses Indian history from the time of the advent of the Europeans until the present. The book is well-organized and discusses various contemporary political, economic, and social issues in India.

This book covers the history of British dominance over India, including the laws and policies forced upon the Indian populace. The Indian National Movement and the fight for independence are also covered, along with the contributions of different figures, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Subhash Chandra Bose.

The book also discusses India’s struggles with communalism, casteism, and regionalism during the post-independence era. It also discusses the diverse economic strategies adopted by various administrations, such as the Green Revolution, liberalization, and globalization.

3. India’s Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma

The well-known book “India’s Ancient Past” by R.S. Sharma gives a thorough account of the history and culture of ancient India. R.S. Sharma was a renowned historian and an authority on early Indian history. His book is largely regarded as a ground-breaking study of the subject.

In this book, ancient Indian culture is examined in depth from a political, social, economic, and religious perspective. It spans a significant time, from the Indus Valley Civilization to the Gupta Empire, which thrived between the third and sixth centuries CE.

In his book “Ancient India,” R.S. Sharma analyses the political and governmental systems of the ancient Indian kingdoms and empires. He examines the socioeconomic circumstances of several eras, touching on issues like urbanization, trade, and agriculture.

The book also explores Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other ancient Indian religions and philosophical systems.

The book also discusses issues like the caste system, gender roles, art, architecture, and literature while highlighting ancient India’s social and cultural variety. It offers insights into the gains made by ancient Indians in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy, among other fields of knowledge.

4. Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals by Satish Chandra

It is a thorough and well-regarded text that offers a detailed account of India’s political, social, and cultural history from the fall of the Delhi Sultanate to the emergence and foundation of the Mughal Empire.

The 13th to the 17th centuries, which are covered in the book, are a crucial time in Indian history. This period saw the rule of several dynasties and empires in India, including the Delhi Sultanate, the Vijayanagara Empire, the Bahmani Sultanate, and eventually the Mughal Empire.

Renowned historian Satish Chandra carefully analyses India’s mediaeval era’s political processes, economic conditions, social and cultural features, and religious dynamics.

The relationships between various ruling powers, the emergence of regional kingdoms, the influence of the Sufi and Bhakti movements, the form of administration, and the architecture and art of the time are all topics he examines.

Chandra clarifies the complexity and nuanced aspects of mediaeval Indian history through his research. He uses a variety of sources, such as Persian chronicles, travelogues, official records, and historical writings, to offer a fair and nuanced portrayal.

5. India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

The book explores several facets of India’s post-independence path, including the difficulties the country has experienced, the political and economic developments, and the social and cultural changes that have occurred.

Guha investigates the complexities of Indian democracy, the expansion of political parties, the impact of regional politics, and the nuanced interaction between religion and politics in India.

The historical narrative of Guha dives into the significant occasions and figures that have influenced modern India. The integration of princely states, the formulation of the Indian Constitution, the Nehruvian era, the emergence of regional politics, the Emergency era, the era of coalition administrations, economic liberalization, and the difficulties posed by caste, gender, and religious identities are just a few of the subjects he discusses.

The Dalit and women’s movements, environmental activism, and the fights for linguistic and cultural rights are only a few of the countless social movements that have influenced India’s post-independence history that are highlighted in the book.

6. The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen

The book “The Argumentative Indian” was authored by Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen, a recipient of the Nobel Prize. The book, published in 2005, examines India’s rich intellectual legacy and its emphasis on open discourse.

Sen offers a collection of writings titled “The Argumentative Indian” that look at various facets of Indian culture, society, and history. He explores issues like identity, diversity, social justice, and the function of the public sphere in a democratic society. The book strongly emphasizes the value of open discourse and analytical thought in promoting a diverse and inclusive society.

7. The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Basham

This book provides a comprehensive account of ancient India’s history, culture, and civilization. The political, social, economic, and religious facets of Indian society from prehistoric to mediaeval periods are among the many topics it addresses.

The writings of A.L. Basham are regarded as foundational works on Indian history and have received high praise for their thorough research and perceptive interpretation. It explores numerous facets of India’s rich history and paints a fair and nuanced picture of its past. The Vedic period, the rise and collapse of empires, the Indus Valley Civilization, the influence of faiths like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, the evolution of art and architecture as well as the effects of foreign invasions are just a few of the subjects covered in the book.

8. Ancient and Medieval India by Poonam Dalal Dahiya

It combines narrative with historical analysis to reveal an intriguing heritage encompassing all important topics suitable for Union Public Service Commission candidates and candidates for state public service examinations.

The second version has been updated to reflect the most recent facts, numbers, questions, and maps on every subject covered in the exams. This book offers unique chapter-by-chapter practice questions, is bicolour with underlined key passages to help pupils concentrate and has a detachable chart that provides an overview of the entire revision.

It includes the entire syllabus for the UPSC and State Service Examinations. It has key points marked in boxes and is written in a way that is simple to understand and is incredibly lucid and eloquent. Updated questions, information, images, flowcharts, and maps are included for greater clarity, and a detachable chart is included for quick and simple pre-exam review.

There are many chapter-based practice questions for both the Prelims and the Mains.

9. The Idea of India by Sunil Khilnani

Khilnani explores numerous facets of Indian society and identity in “The Idea of India,” trying to understand what distinguishes India as a country. He examines the ancient history of India, taking into account the unique cultural heritage and contributions of numerous civilizations. In addition, he looks at the effects of British colonialism and the independence movements headed by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

The difficulties and contradictions that India as country encounters are also covered by Khilnani.

He provides insights into the complexity of Indian society and the continuous fight to define the country’s identity through his analyses.

The book “The Idea of India” has received much attention and reading on the subject of Indian studies. It gives readers a broader understanding of India and its unique society by thoroughly analyzing its history, culture, and politics.

10. The Indian War of Independence by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

The First War of Independence also referred to as “The Indian War of Independence,” is a significant work by Savarkar and was released in 1909. In this book, Savarkar offers his view of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, a revolt against British colonial control in India in 1857.

Savarkar criticized the notion that the uprising was primarily driven by religious considerations in his work, contrary to what many historians had contended. His focus was more on the rebellion’s social, political, and economic aspects. Savarkar drew attention to the resentment of many segments of Indian society, such as the peasants, craftsmen, and intellectuals, who were subjected to British colonial policies.

11. The Making of Modern India by Bipan Chandra

This book describes the historical events and procedures that created modern India. It examines a number of historical facets of India, including political, social, cultural, and economic advancements from the late 19th to the early 21st centuries.

The book explores the significant individuals, occasions, and ideologies that shaped India’s march to independence and its subsequent development into a democratic state. There is a detailed discussion of how Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and other key figures shaped India’s future.

Additionally, Bipan Chandra looks at several social and economic aspects of modern India, including caste politics, land reforms, industrialization, and the effects of globalization.

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12. The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan

It examines the background and consequences of India’s 1947 split, which resulted in the foundation of the sovereign countries of India and Pakistan.

Khan thoroughly describes the bloodshed and massive migrations that took place during the division and caused significant human death and relocation. She also looks into the long-term effects of the split, such as the continued hostilities between Pakistan and India, the hardship of refugees, and the effect on inter-communal relations.

Final Words

These are only a few top-notch histories that UPSC hopefuls can choose from. You can learn more about Indian history and culture by reading these books, which will be helpful as you get ready for the UPSC exam.

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