IAS Exam Preparation: Booklist for History Optional

UPSC Mains Exam: Booklist and Strategy for History Optional

Here we present a compilation of the list of books and strategy required for History optional Subject.

PAPER – I


ANCIENT INDIA

  1. UPINDER SINGH- A history of ancient and early medieval India The most important book, according to the current trend of questions being asked on socio-economic aspects of history
  2. IGNOU B.A Notes
  3. IGNOU M.A NOTES – helpful in understanding various political, economic and socio- cultural aspects
  4. Romila Thapar- Early India( only a very selective reading)
  5. NCERT Class 6, NCERT Class 11

MEDIEVAL INDIA

  1. IGNOU MA and BA NOTES
  2. Medieval India by Satish Chandra.
  3. NCERT CLASS 7, CLASS 11

PAPER – II


MODERN INDIA

  1. SHEKHAR BANDOPADHYAY- From Plassey to partition
  2. SUMIT SARKAR- Modern India
  3. BIPIN CHANDRA- Freedom Struggle and Post-Independence
  4. IGNOU B.A and M.A
  5. NCERT CLASS 8, CLASS 12

WORLD HISTORY

  1. IGNOU BA and MA
  2. RANJAN CHAKRABARTY- A history of modern world
  3. NORMAN LOWE
  4. DAVID THOMSON (Selective reading)
  5. NCERT CLASS 9 and 10.

Strategy for History Optional Paper I


  • Be thorough with the UPSC Syllabus.
  • Solve UPSC Previous Years’ Question Papers
  • Analyse the type of questions asked in the past 4-5 years UPSC Mains Exam.
  • If one observes past four years’ question papers they can come understand the trend in the question asked in the UPSC Mains History Optional Paper.
  • Question asked interlinking ancient, medieval and modern history.
  • Trend in historiography can be noticed for e.g. debates on various schools of historians.
    • Below given is a question asked in UPSC 2014 Mains Exam.
    • To what extent is “segmentary State’ model relevant for defining the Vijayanagar State? Critically examine.(UPSC 2014)
  • At least one or two questions are asked on from culture and religion.
    • “The Upanishadic principles embody the epitome of the Vedic thought.” Discuss. (UPSC 2014)
  • Questions on gender
    • Analyze the steps taken Razia Sultan by to strengthen our position as an independent ruler despite various obstacles. (UPSC 2013) 

Strategy for History Optional Paper II


To cover this part of the syllabus, candidates should have in depth understanding of the revolutions like Russian Revolution, French Revolution etc.

Points to focus on revolutions:

  • Why were the revolutions revolutionary?
  • Concept of the revolutions
  • Explore the causes of the revolutions
  • Reasons that overthrow the old system
  • Diverse social interests that supported or opposed the revolutions
  • Intervention of famous personalities influenced the revolution
  • Classification of revolution
  • Role of revolutionary ideology and politics
  • Role of philosophers and enlightenment in triggering the revolution
  • Role of Women
  • The impact of revolution on
  • Modern Politics
  • Ideological parties (left and right)
  • Citizen bodies
  • Total war
  • Nationalism
  • Socialism

For e.g. below given is a question asked in the UPSC Mains 2015

“Critically examine the statement that the French Revolution was not caused by the French philosophers but by the conditions of national life and by the mistakes of the government.” UPSC 2016 

“The Mutiny of 1857 was much more than a Mutiny of Sepoys and much less than a National Rebellion. Comment.” (UPSC 2016)

In a similar way, this question could be answered by interlinking the Indian National Movement with world History.

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