M J Akbar is a versatile personality who has led the newspaper revolution in India. At the age of 25 he became the first editor of a compeltely political weekly magazine, the SUNDAY. Sunday soon became the most important source of information for the politically conscious India.
While at the Sunday, Mr. Akbar authored an important book on communal riots in India titled RIOT AFTER RIOT. He was instrumental in reporting on the complicity of the government with the rioters in places like Meerut.
Subsequently he established the daily newspaper THE TELEGRAPH [Calcutta] for the Anand Bazaar Patrika Group.
Mr. M J Akbar later went on to set up the newspaper ASIAN AGE.
Through the course of his journalistic writing he also found time to document the contemproary history of India.
His book Riot After Riot appeared in 1987. It was a collection of studies in violence, whether Hindu-Muslim or inter-caste. It mirrored the harsh realities of the subcontinent and included a prescient piece on the major social explosion over the mosque in Ayodhya built at the time of the Mughal emperor Babar. This book is still in print and continues to sell steadily.
In 1989, Viking and Penguin published the author’s major, substantive biography of Jawaharlal Nehru, called Nehru: The Making of India. Once again, the reception was splendid. Time magazine, to name just one instance, gave it a two page review in its international edition.
In 1991 Penguin India published the author’s fourth book as their special hundredth title. Kashmir: Behind the Veil told the story of India’s most troublesome and indeed deeply saddening crisis, one which has been responsible for more wars and bloodshed than any other.
After that India: The Siege Within, Challenges to a Nation’s Unity had attracted considerable attention. This book won excellent notices internationally, and became a staple of university courses on South Asia. It was also unique in that it accurately predicted where the next round of secessionist violence would come, in Punjab and Kashmir, and put these movements both in a historical as well as immediate context. No book by an Indian author on politics has had quite the impact that the author’s first book had.
In 2002 Routledge, in UK and USA, and Roli Books in India published M.J. Akbar’s book The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the conflict between Islam and Christianity. Once again, the reception was extraordinarily positive, worldwide, whether in the Indian media or international newspapers like the Financial Times. A selection of reviews is enclosed to indicate the worldwide applause that this seminal examination of a mojor contemporary crisis received.
In April 2006 M.J. Akbar’s book BLOOD BROTHERS was published. It is an amazing story of three generations of a Muslim family- based on his own- and how they deal with the fluctuating contours of Hindu-Muslim relations.