Books: The Long Goodbye

FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT by LARRY COLLINS and DOMINIQUE LAPIERRE 572 pages. Illustrated. Simon & Schuster. $12.50.

At the stroke of midnight on Aug. 14, 1947, an age ended. After an occupation of 347 years, the British gave India back to the Indians. Like every detail of that massive transition, the moment chosen for India's deliverance was an awkward compromise. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the English viceroy, had intended to make his country's exit on Aug. 15, the second anniversary of Japan's surrender in the Pacific. Legions of India's astrologers howled; every stellar influence on that...

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