India and China the inheritors of two ancient civilizations and aeons of neighbourly bonds cemented by Buddhism and the bridge-building missions of Fa-Hien, Huen Tsang, Tagore and Kotnis never witnessed strife between themselves till the fateful autumn of 1962, when they fought a short but bitter border war on the desolate heights of the Himalayas. Mutual suspicion and sporadic face-offs have ever since bedevilled relations between the two Asian giants, based on their still-unsettled borders. What caused the tragic estrangement of Asia s leading lights? In this cogent and comprehensive analysis, the author traces the origins of the discord to a legacy flawed by the flip-flops of imperial Britain s unilateral border delineation, and the ebbs and flows of Chinese activism in Tibet. The gripping narrative carries us from the post-1947 scenario of initial Panchsheel bonhomie, yielding place to mutual distrust, aggravated, among other causes, by Chinese paranoia over Tibet and the unrelenting pressure of Indian public opinion. India s cataclysmic defeat in the war, which remains a young nation s humiliation, is attributed to the ill-advised forward policy and failure of the politico-military leadership of the time, revalidating Clemenceau s adage, that war is too important a matter to be left to generals .