Niharranjan Ray’s highly acclaimed magnum opus, Bangalir Itihas: Adi Parva, translated here as History of the Bengali People is a seminal work on the history of the Bengalis from the earliest times to the beginning of the Muslim rule in India.
As much a work of literature as of history, this book is not a story of kings and the extension of their power but of the life of ordinary people. Thus, through detailed, methodical discussions on origins of the various peoples, their language and literature, science, trade and commerce, religious practices and rituals, there emerges a vivid picture of society and its development through the passage of time.
This able translation by J. W. Hood has retained the vibrancy and subtle nuances of the Bengali original. In his Foreword to this edition of the translation, Sumit Sarkar writes: 'Niharranjan Ray was, indeed, a towering figure among my generation of historians. But not many scholars are familiar with his writings these days. The new edition of the English translation, which has done full justice to the original version, hopefully will rectify this.’