Writing history & India with Shashi Tharoor and William Dalrymple

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…