The Last Heroes: Foot Soldiers of Indian Freedom by P Sainath

After Two Decades, P. Sainath Is Back With A New Book His last book Everybody Loves a Good Drought is in its 56th print run.


New Delhi, October 2022: Penguin Random House India proudly announces the acquisition and publication of eminent writer and Journalist, P. Sainath’s upcoming book on India’s freedom struggle, titled The Last Heroes. The book is scheduled for release on November 21 from the Penguin Viking imprint.

As we observe our 75th year of independence, The Last Heroes celebrates little known fighters from India’s freedom struggle. The book tracks the role of ordinary, everyday people in achieving Independence. Farmers, labourers, homemakers, forest produce gatherers, artisans and others—stood up to the British. These people never went on to be ministers, governors, presidents, or hold high public office. The Last Heroes is a book that helps them tell their stories, giving them a recognition they truly deserve, but were never granted.

The book highlights the distinction between Freedom and Independence that these fighters speak of. The Last Heroes shows that Indian Independence was not the gift of a handful of Oxbridge elites. And does so by revealing the spectacular diversity of these foot soldiers who fought the great battles of freedom – Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus; OBCs, Brahmins; men, women and children, believers and atheists. They came from different regions, from diverse political streams. spoke different languages but stood up together against British colonial rule.  However, The Last Heroes goes beyond their fight for Independence as many continued their battle for freedom long after 1947.

 Talking about his second book, author P. Sainath, shares his motivation to write: ‘In the next five or six years, there will not be a single person alive who fought for this country’s freedom. Newer generations of young Indians will never get to meet, see, speak or listen to India’s freedom fighters. That’s why and for whom I wrote this book. For quite a while now, we see young people being robbed of their history, denied any knowledge of what India’s fight for freedom and Independence was about – and who it was who spearheaded that struggle.’

 Karthik Venkatesh, Executive Editor, Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘The book recounts a very important and exciting phase of our history by retelling how the struggle for freedom in India was universal, something all sections of society chose to participate in. It records for posterity a selection of the experiences of those tumultuous times, making it a truly valuable document both for us and for future generations.’

Meru Gokhale, Publisher, Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘P. Sainath’s book, his first in more than two decades, captures a critically important slice of history by documenting the participation of ordinary people in India’s freedom struggle. The people whose lives and stories are wonderfully documented in this book are from all parts of the country and all sections of society, demonstrating the deep roots of India’s national movement. It is particularly wonderful for us as publishers to be able to present this book to the reading public on the occasion of the 75th year of India’s independence.’

 About the author

Palagummi Sainath is the founder-editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI). He has been a journalist and reporter for 42 years, covering rural India full time for thirty of those. With an MA in History from JNU, Sainath joined the United News of India in 1980. In 1982, he became foreign editor of The Daily and deputy chief editor of the weekly Blitz in Mumbai. In 1993, he left Blitz to work full-time reporting rural poverty. He was the rural affairs editor of The Hindu from 2004 to 2014.

Sainath has won over 60 national and international reporting awards and fellowships. These include the Fukuoka Grand Prize 2021, the World Media Summit award 2014, the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2007, Amnesty International’s Global Human Rights Reporting Prize and the Ramnath Goenka Journalist of the Year award. He has been teaching journalism at the Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, for three decades, and also at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, since 2000. He was McGraw Professor of Writing at Princeton in 2012.

In December 2014, Sainath launched PARI. Publishing in 14 languages, PARI is an independent multimedia digital platform, whose reporting mandate is to cover every region and section of rural people. In seven years, PARI has won over 50 journalism awards. His earlier book with Penguin, Everybody Loves A Good Drought is now in its 56th print run.

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