von Tunzelmann, Alex 1977-
von Tunzelmann, Alex 1977-
Born 1977. Education: Studied at Oxford University.
Home—London, England. Agent—A.P. Watt Ltd., 20 John St., London WC1N 2DR, England.
Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Vogue and Financial Times. Contributor to books, including The Political Animal, by Jeremy Paxman; The Truth about Markets, by John Kay; Does Education Matter?, by Alison Wolf; and Not on the Label, by Felicity Lawrence.
Alex von Tunzelmann is a researcher. She studied at Oxford University in England and contributes to various books and periodicals. In 2007 she published her first book, Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire. The account covers the transition of power from colonial Britain to the emerging leaders of India and Pakistan.
Nigel Collett, writing in the Asian Review of Books, commented that "this book is not really a ‘secret history’ for there is not much of it that has not been penned elsewhere, as her excellent bibliography demonstrates, but it is what could be described as almost a multi-personality biography, for von Tunzelmann uses the life histories of the principal players (Gandhi, Nehru, the two Mountbattens and, to a much lesser extent, Jinnah and Churchill) to weave the story of the Indian national struggle from the late years of the nineteenth century to its denouement in the second half of the twentieth." Collett noted that "it is not sentiment to recognize greatness of character and bravery of conduct nor the effect of love on human affairs. Alex von Tunzelmann has this, as she has the major things in her book, absolutely right." Saubhik Chakrabarti, writing in Mumbai's Indian Express, observed that "the last bit, looking at the subcontinent now, is weak by the standards of the rest of the book. There's a hurried, newspapery feel to Tunzelmann's precis on modern India (and not so modern, as she says, Pakistan and Bangladesh)." Nevertheless, Chakrabarti felt that "readers may well have different takes, but whatever your politics, Tunzelmann's history will provoke you into thinking about your country." Fritz Lanham, reviewing the book in the Houston Chronicle, commented that von Tunzelmann is "far more admiring of Nehru and the Mountbattens. She portrays Nehru in glowing colors, as a man cerebral and passionate, personally courageous, committed to India as a secular democracy tolerant of all religions." Lanham took note of the parallels between the accounts in the book and those of Iraq following the United States' forceful removal of its president, stating: "You can't help reading Indian Summer without thinking of likely scenarios when the United States finally leaves Iraq, another country beset by sectarian divisions the parties seem unwilling to bridge. Fortunately history never repeats itself, exactly." Lanham concluded by saying that "Indian Summer is a nicely opinionated, briskly written book. Von Tunzelmann has a fine knack for teasing out the play of personality in momentous events."
In a London Mail article, Kate Chisholm remarked that "Von Tunzelmann tells one story of the end of Empire—that of the small clique who tried, and failed, to control the handover of power—but there are many others, adding pathos and depth of meaning to the drama of political events." Christopher Silvester, writing in the London Express, also felt that there was little new information, but conceded that "the prose is lucid and witty, and the pace of the storytelling is sublimely judged, with just the right element of analysis and due attention given to the human foibles of the key players." Jonathan Kirsch, writing in the Los Angeles Times, commented that "Von Tunzelmann's first book is a highly readable popular history, an impressive piece of work that is rooted in scholarly sources, her own original research and a solid command of Indian history and politics—all considerably spiced up with tidbits of gossip and speculation. Academic historians may be put off by some of Von Tunzelmann's stylistic flourishes and her undeniable flair for telling a good tale. For the rest of us, Indian Summer is a fascinating book that may well change how we look on the benighted world in which we live today."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Asian Review of Books, November 25, 2007, Nigel Collett, review of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire.
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Jay Freeman, review of Indian Summer, p. 24.
Express (London, England), July 13, 2007, Christopher Silvester, review of Indian Summer.
Fortune, September 3, 2007, Daniel Okrent, review of Indian Summer, p. 38.
Houston Chronicle, August 3, 2007, Fritz Lanham, review of Indian Summer.
Independent (London, England), August 10, 2007, Susan Williams, review of Indian Summer.
Indian Express (Mumbai, India), July 1, 2007, Saubhik Chakrabarti, review of Indian Summer.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of Indian Summer.
Library Journal, August 1, 2007, Elizabeth Morris, review of Indian Summer, p. 102.
Los Angeles Times, August 19, 2007, Jonathan Kirsch, review of Indian Summer.
Mail (London, England), July 31, 2007, Kate Chisholm, review of Indian Summer.
New York Times Book Review, September 2, 2007, Ben Macintyre, review of Indian Summer, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2007, review of Indian Summer, p. 48.
Spectator, July 28, 2007, Philip Ziegler, review of Indian Summer.
Washington Post Book World, August 2, 2007, Joanne Collings, review of Indian Summer, p. C2.
Alex von Tunzelmann Home Page,http://alexvontunzelmann.com (February 14, 2008), author biography.
Blog Critics,http://blogcritics.org/ (August 10, 2007), Mayank Austen Soofi, review of Indian Summer.
Do Now Do,http://www.donowdo.com/ (February 14, 2008), Paul Vlitos, author interview.
First Post,http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/ (July 12, 2007), review of Indian Summer.
Metroactive,http://www.metroactive.com/ (August 8, 2007), Michael S. Gant, review of Indian Summer.