In this three part episode, Shashi Tharoor and William Dalrymple talk about how they write history, how they got started, why history is important, how history is used as a weapon in today’s culture wars, and who has the right to write a country’s history. Shashi tells us about his least favourite historian. And William dodges some extreme criticism of the bullet-from-a-gun variety and has a happy reunion with a lost manuscript. We also investigate the rumours that the character of Indiana Jones was based on William. Listen here.
Shashi Tharoor is former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, former Indian Government minister, Member of the Indian Parliament, prolific author and historian. His many books include Riot, India: From Midnight to the Millennium, Nehru: The Invention of India, and An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India also published under the title Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India.
William Dalrymple is one of the co-founders and co-directors of the Jaipur Literary Festival, a broadcaster, curator and the author of many books, including In Xanadu, City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, White Mughals, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty Delhi 1857, Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond (with Anita Anand) and The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company.
Lots of other authors, people and topics get a mention too – JP Martin’s Uncle books, Barbara Tuchmann’s The March of Folly: Troy to Vietnam, Anita Anand, Stephen Fry, Gabriel Byrne, Samson Kambalu and the 4th Plinth, Americanisms, Captain WE Johns & Biggles, Operations Bellows, Enid Blyton, The Six Solvers, contested histories, the evolution of language, bloodthirsty St Agnes, Cornish & Irish giants, The Goodies, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Narendra Modi, Neil Jordan’s Lord Edward and Citizen Small, Victoria and Abdul, & Miki Berenyi (formerly of Lush, and who has an excellent memoir published recently fingers crossed: how music saved me from success).
Plus a certain pug joins in…