Mehta begins by describing the politics that swirled around Indira Gandhi during the last two years of her life - in particular, the growing hostility among Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims. He tells of the Sikhs' demand for special status, their uprising against the Hindus in the Punjab, the government's retaliation, the murder of Mrs. Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards, and the anti-Sikh rioting that followed. He goes on to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding Rajiv's election as his mother's successor; the change in atmosphere from optimism to disenchantment as Rajiv's government became mired in a kickback scandal; Rajiv's loss of office to V. P. Singh in the 1989 election; and his murder by a secessionist Tamil group from Sri Lanka in 1991. Throughout, Mehta provides vivid details of aspects of Indian history and culture, such as the impact of the accident at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, the debate between the judiciary and Muslim clerics over economic support of divorced Muslim women, the peculiarities of the Indian telephone system, and the effect of television and movies on Hindu revivalism. His lucid and incisive book is mandatory reading for those who wish to understand India today.