I recently got the opportunity to review the book Chanakya: The Kingmaker and the Philosopher written by Anu Kumar. Almost all of us would have heard of Chanakya.
He was one of the wisest men in the history of India and he was responsible for the establishment of Chandragupta Maurya as a king and in turn the Maurya Dynasty in India.
While he is known by other names such as Kautilya and Vishnu Gupta, he is more popularly known by the name Chanakya, said to be derived from his father’s name Chanak.
There is a lot of confusion regarding the story of Chanakya with different sources citing the same man and historians unable to completely decide, which, the most authentic one is.
In this book, Anu Kumar tries to piece together the life history of Chanakya drawing from all the various sources available.
He constructs the life and times of Chanakya, starting from his childhood; his father being executed by the Nanda king, Dhana Nanda; his escape to the forests to gain knowledge; getting insulted in Dhana Nanda’s court; his vow and finally, his political manoeuvres to install Chandragupta Maurya as the king.
It makes fascinating reading, especially if you are not aware of his bio.
There are many positives in Chanakya: The Kingmaker and the Philosopher. It is not at all pretentious and does not look to create any complexity around the story.
Anu Kumar only concentrates on trying to tell the story in the simplest form possible so that the reader can appreciate the genius that is Chanakya.
Along with the story of Chanakya, Anu Kumar makes it even more interesting for the reader in the form of various sayings and teachings of Chanakya in between the chapters.
While sometimes, you may feel that these teachings come in between an interesting part of the story, on the whole, it made a lot more sense to have them after every chapter.
On the negative side, sometimes the story goes back and forth and that kind of makes it hard for the reader to keep track of what is going on, especially one who is not too much into history and would have trouble in immediately recalling the names or making the connection.
If the story could have maintained the flow throughout the book, then it would have made it even more interesting for the reader. Otherwise, there was nothing much to complain about.
If you are even mildly interested in Chanakya, then Chanakya: The Kingmaker and the Philosopher is a good start to get you into the groove to learn more about the great man.
However, if you are looking at a more in-depth study on Chanakya, then this is not the book for you.
On a side note, the flipbook action at the bottom of the page was a very good touch!