The Spoils of Partition

Bengal and India, 1947–1967

The Spoils of Partition

The partition of India in 1947 was a seminal event of the twentieth century. Much has been written about the Punjab and the creation of West Pakistan; by contrast, little is known about the partition of Bengal. This remarkable book by an acknowledged expert on the subject assesses the social, economic and political consequences of partition. Using compelling sources, the book, which was originally published in 2007, shows how and why the borders were redrawn, how the creation of new nation states led to unprecedented upheavals, massive shifts in population and wholly unexpected transformations of the political landscape in both Bengal and India. The book also reveals how the spoils of partition, which the Congress in Bengal had expected from the new boundaries, were squandered over the twenty years which followed. This is an intriguing and challenging work whose findings change our understanding and its consequences for the history of the subcontinent.


'Joya Chatterji's eminently readable and superbly researched book on the partition of Bengal and its aftermath addresses a lacuna in studies of Indian independence, both in terms of the region and context, and in the freshness of its approach. … Building on the author's ground-breaking first book, Bengal Divided (Cambridge University Press, 2002), the narrative of the Hindu bhadralok's [elitist social class] drive for partition is taken further to examine the political choices surrounding the creation of West Bengal. … Each part of the book is beautifully narrated and rigorously researched …' Asian Affairs

'The Spoils of Partition not only is a meticulously researched study but is written with considerable style, verve, and elegance. The text provides a compelling and authoritative account of the transitions and transformations in West Bengal in the early post-independence era. It is an essential addition to the burgeoning literature on partition and is deserving of a wide readership.' Journal of Cold War Studies