Time Pieces: A Whistle-Stop Tour of Ancient India

A delightful romp through 10 themes in ancient India by a smart and engaging writer who knows her Indus civilization history and all that which followed. These brief essays give some sense of how engaging history can be in the hands of a good writer, not afraid to take risks and push material politically and theoretically while keeping her feet on the ground. The connections she draws between Paleolithic, Indus and Historical periods are solid and engaging. If only more historians would range this widely and have a similar depth of knowledge to draw upon with fine turns of phrase, many more people would delve into the subject.

Lahiri opens each of her chapters with a quote or epigram, and it is the last one, from T.S. Eliot that stands out and perhaps best captures her own effort here: "The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence." ('Tradition and the Individual Talent', 1919)