Sumit Guha, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, has written a book even more expansive than his title promises. Not only does he investigate a wide range of ways that South Asians have remembered their past over the last eight centuries, he explores in a comparative way the practices of other societies, from the record keeping of ancient Andeans and Chinese to Enlightenment European attempts at what we might call professional history.

Guha's expertise in early modern Indian history allows him to explore “social structure and historical narration in western India” in great depth. For scholars of Maharashtra, his study of the precolonial chronicles known as bakhars and their analysis by colonial-era British and Indian scholars will be of especial interest.

Guha is sensitive to the ways that the collective memories of Indians, marshaled to protect the pride, status, and interest of particular groups, is contested...

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