he central villain in the book is undoubtedly the arrogant and unrealistic Mountbatten.
"Partition maps revealing the butchered boundary lines drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe," Wolpert says, "through the Sikh heartland of Punjab and the east of Calcutta in Bengal, were kept under lock and key on Mountbatten's orders."
Radcliffe, a barrister, had never set foot on Indian soil before 1947. "He was to accomplish, in a month, work that should have taken at least a year," Wolpert points out. "He was so afraid of what he had done -- worried that Sikhs, Hindus or Muslims would kill him -- (that) he left India hastily."
Wolpert says had the governors of Punjab and Bengal known about the way the two provinces were being partitioned, "they could have, with their early knowledge, saved countless lives by dispatching troops and trains to what would soon become the lines of fire and blood.
"The rapid departure of the British from the region was the catalyst for over half a century of violence, a legacy that lives on today," the historian says, discussing why Partition still holds interest for him.
"The Indian leaders as well as their counterparts in England failed to appreciate how bad and how weak a viceroy Mountbatten was," Wolpert continues. "In many ways, he was the worst viceroy of India, he was the centerpiece of this tragedy."