Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

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abhishek_sharma
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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 28 Feb 2012 09:24


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 01 Mar 2012 02:13

Douglas E. Streusand, "Islamic Gunpowder Empires: Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals (Essays in World History)"
Publisher: Westview Press | ISBN: 0813313597 | 2010 | 408 pages |

Islamic Gunpowder Empires provides readers with a history of Islamic civilization in the early modern world through a comparative examination of Islam’s three greatest empires—the Ottomans (centered in what is now Turkey), the Safavids (in modern Iran), and the Mughals (ruling the Indian subcontinent). Author Douglas Streusand explains the origins of the three empires; compares the ideological, institutional, military, and economic contributors to their success; and analyzes the causes of their rise, expansion, and ultimate transformation and decline. Streusand depicts the three empires as a part of an integrated international system extending from the Atlantic to the Straits of Malacca, emphasizing both the connections and the conflicts within that system. He presents the empires as complex polities in which Islam is one political and cultural component among many. The treatment of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires incorporates contemporary scholarship, dispels common misconceptions, and provides an excellent platform for further study.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 05 Mar 2012 10:01

Review: George Kennan's Memoirs

Long but useful for understanding Europe during 1925-50.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 06 Mar 2012 07:36

Kecia Ali, "Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam"
Publisher: Harvard Univerdisty Press | ISBN: 0674050592 | 2010 |

What did it mean to be a wife, woman, or slave in a society in which a land-owning woman was forbidden to lay with her male slave but the same slave might be allowed to take concubines? Jurists of the nascent Maliki, Hanafi, and Shafi‘i legal schools frequently compared marriage to purchase and divorce to manumission. Juggling scripture, precedent, and custom on one hand, and the requirements of logical consistency on the other, legal scholars engaged in vigorous debate. The emerging consensus demonstrated a self-perpetuating analogy between a husband’s status as master and a wife’s as slave, even as jurists insisted on the dignity of free women and, increasingly, the masculine rights of enslaved husbands.

Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam presents the first systematic analysis of how these jurists conceptualized marriage—its rights and obligations—using the same rhetoric of ownership used to describe slavery. Kecia Ali explores parallels between marriage and concubinage that legitimized sex and legitimated offspring using eighth- through tenth-century legal texts. As the jurists discussed claims spouses could make on each other—including dower, sex, obedience, and companionship–they returned repeatedly to issues of legal status: wife and concubine, slave and free, male and female.

Complementing the growing body of scholarship on Islamic marital and family law, Ali boldly contributes to the ongoing debates over feminism, sexuality, and reform in Islam.



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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 09 Mar 2012 07:13

Robert W. Orttung, A. S. Makarychev - National Counter-Terrorism Strategies: Legal, Institutional, and Public Policy Dimensions in the US, UK, France, Turkey and Russia

Publisher: IОS Prеss | 2006-12-01 | ISBN: 1586036955 | 224 pages


This publication discusses and compares various reactions to the challenges of mass-scale terrorism. Five countries are at the centre of the research: The United States, Great Britain, France, Turkey and Russia, each of them being a victim of multiple terrorist attacks. This volume is grounded in a conceptual presumption that the countries directly affected by terrorism produce different types of responses. Of course, there is much in common in all five country cases, but the most interesting part of the research exercise is identifying the divergences. Based upon this comparative analysis, this volume discusses a variety of counter-terrorism policies and strategies. Hopefully, these analyses will provide the basis for improving the counter-terrorism approaches for each of the countries as we learn from each other.




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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 16 Mar 2012 05:54

Ye Zicheng, Guoli Liu, Steven I. Levine, "Inside China's Grand Strategy: The Perspective from the People's Republic"
Publisher: The Uty Press of Kentucky | ISBN: 0813126452 | 2010 | 320 pages |


China's enormous size, vast population, abundant natural resources, robust economy, and modern military suggest that it will emerge as a great world power. Inside China's Grand Strategy: The Perspective from the People's Republic offers unique insights from a prominent Chinese scholar about the country's geopolitical ambitions and strategic thinking.

Ye Zicheng, professor of political science in the School of International Studies at Peking University, examines China's interactions with current world powers as well as its policies toward neighboring countries. Despite claims that repressive domestic policies and an economic slowdown are evidence that the country's efforts toward modernization will fail, Ye points to China's inclusion in the G-20 as an indicator of success. Ye compares China's global ascension, particularly its emphasis on peace, to the historical experiences of rising European superpowers, providing an insider look at a country poised to become an increasingly prominent international power.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby shiv » 16 Mar 2012 06:20

Book review: "Breaking India" by Rajiv Malhotra
http://www.arshavidya.in/Newsletter/Feb ... -India.pdf
Three global networks that have well
established operating bases inside India,
undermine India’s integrity. First is Islamic
radicalism linked with Pakistan. Second is
Marxist radicals supported by China. Third
is Dravidian and Dalit identity separatism
being fostered by the West.
The focus is on the role of U.S. and
European Churches, academics, foundations,
Government and human rights groups in
fostering separation. It tracks money trails
that start out claiming to be for education,
human rights and empowerment training
but end up in programmes designed to
misguide Indian youth to separatist
thinking.
The British to suit their colonial interests
had the policy of divide and rule. Hence
they created a myth that Aryans and
Dravidians are separate races. Christian
evangelists and local Politicians use this
myth for their selfish ends. Christian
organizations in the West spread false
propaganda that Dalits and religious
minorities are persecuted in India.
The Aryan race theory has been rejected by
Europe. But the academics and media in
India still hold on to Aryan invasion
theory. Many such myths are systematically
manufactured and disseminated through
entrenched channels with ulterior motive.
A Tamil translation of this English book is
also available

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 17 Mar 2012 07:55

Gandhi: Naked Ambition By Jad Adams
Publisher: Qu[erc]us Bo..oks 2011 | 288 Pages | ISBN: 085738161X |


The pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India's independence movement, pioneer of non-violent resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience (satyagraha), honoured in India as 'father of nation', Mohandas K. Gandhi has inspired movements for civil rights and political freedom across the world. Jad Adams offers a concise and elegant account of Gandhi's life: from his birth and upbringing in a small princely state in Gujarat during the high noon of the British Raj, to his assassination at the hands of a Hindu extremist in 1948 only months after the birth of the independent India which he himself he had done so much to bring about. He delineates the principal events of a career that may truly be said to have changed the world: his training as a barrister in late Victorian London; his civil rights work in Boer War-era South Africa; his leadership of the Indian National Congress; his focus on obtaining self-government and control of all Indian government institutions, and the campaigns of non-cooperation and non-violence against British rule in India whereby he sought to achieve that aim (including the famous 'Salt March' of March/April 1930); his passionate opposition to partition in 1947 and his fasts-unto-death in a bid to end the bitter and bloody sectarian violence that attended it. Jad Adams's accessible and thoughtful biography not only traces the outline of an extraordinary life with exemplary clarity, but also examines why Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings are still profoundly relevant today.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 17 Mar 2012 08:13

The Roots of American Exceptionalism: Institutions, Culture, and Policies By Charles Lockhart
English | 2012 | ISBN: 0230116760 | 294 pages |

How do United States public policies differ from those of other wealthy democracies? Why do they differ? The Roots of American Exceptionalism draws on societies' unique histories, distinctive paths of institutional development and contrasting cultures to explain why they adopt different policies for common problems. It compares the United States with Sweden on tax policy, Canada on financing medical care, France on abortion policy, and Japan on immigration.

The book shows that American public policies across these four areas fit a pattern of embodying the fundamental beliefs and value priorities of a particular culture: individualism. And while American public policies are rational from this cultural perspective, the relative strengths and weaknesses of this culturally-constrained rationality are contrasted with those of alternative, more egalitarian and/or hierarchical, culturally-constrained rationalities which prevail in Sweden, Canada, France and Japan.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 18 Mar 2012 04:50

Another stealing the Indian narrative!

Ronald B. Inden, Jonathan S. Walters, Daud Ali - Querying the Medieval: Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia

Publisher: Oxfоrd Univеrsity Prеss | 2000-06-08 | ISBN: 0195124308 | 248 pages |

Indologist Ronald Inden has in the past raised questions about the images of a "traditional" or "medieval" India deployed by colonial scholars and rulers--"Orientalists"--and has also argued that a history of "early medieval" India very different from both the colonial and nationalist accounts could be written. This volume is designed as an important first step towards that goal. The authors look closely at three genres of texts that have been crucial to the representations of precolonial India. All three essays challenge not only colonialist scholarship but the attempts by religious nationalists to identify Hinduism as the essence of national identity in India and Buddhism as the essence of nationality in Sri Lanka.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 20 Mar 2012 22:49

So now compare the colonial scholarship with nationalists and make it equal equal.
They need something to defy the real actual peoples narrative of the land.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 23 Mar 2012 09:14

Reith Lectures

Download


1948 Bertrand Russell, Authority and the Individual
...
1951 Lord Radcliffe, Power and the State
...
1953 Robert Oppenheimer, Science and the Common Understanding
...
1957 George F. Kennan, Russia, The Atom and The West
...
1966 John K. Galbraith, The New Industrial State
...
1993 Edward Said, Representation of the Intellectual

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 26 Mar 2012 08:10


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 29 Mar 2012 09:52

Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam By Fred M. Donner
Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2010 | 304 Pages | ISBN: 0674050975 | B


The origins of Islam have been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. The traditional view, which presents Islam as a self-consciously distinct religion tied to the life and revelations of the prophet Muhammad in western Arabia, has since the 1970s been challenged by historians engaged in critical study of the Muslim sources.

In Muhammad and the Believers, the eminent historian Fred Donner offers a lucid and original vision of how Islam first evolved. He argues that the origins of Islam lie in what we may call the "Believers' movement" begun by the prophet Muhammad—a movement of religious reform emphasizing strict monotheism and righteous behavior in conformity with God's revealed law. The Believers' movement thus included righteous Christians and Jews in its early years, because like the Qur'anic Believers, Christians and Jews were monotheists and agreed to live righteously in obedience to their revealed law. The conviction that Muslims constituted a separate religious community, utterly distinct from Christians and Jews, emerged a century later, when the leaders of the Believers' movement decided that only those who saw the Qur'an as the final revelation of the One God and Muhammad as the final prophet, qualified as Believers. This separated them decisively from monotheists who adhered to the Gospels or Torah.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 30 Mar 2012 05:58

Robert G. Hoyland - Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam
Publisher: Rоutledge | 2001-10-12 | ISBN: 0415195349, 0415195357 | 336 pages |


Long before Muhammed preached the religion of Islam, the inhabitants of his native Arabia had played an important role in world history as both merchants and warriors

Arabia and the Arabs provides the only up-to-date, one-volume survey of the region and its peoples, from prehistory to the coming of Islam
Using a wide range of sources - inscriptions, poetry, histories, and archaeological evidence - Robert Hoyland explores the main cultural areas of Arabia, from ancient Sheba in the south, to the deserts and oases of the north. He then examines the major themes of
*the economy
*society
*religion
*art, architecture and artefacts
*language and literature
*Arabhood and Arabisation

The volume is illustrated with more than 50 photographs, drawings and maps.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 03 Apr 2012 07:30

Christopher Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian (Art of Mentoring)"
B--c B-oks | 2005 | ISBN-10: 0465030335 | 160 pages |

In the book that he was born to write, provocateur and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens inspires future generations of radicals, gadflies, mavericks, rebels, angry young (wo)men, and dissidents. Who better to speak to that person who finds him or herself in a contrarian position than Hitchens, who has made a career of disagreeing in profound and entertaining ways.This book explores the entire range of "contrary positions"-from noble dissident to gratuitous pain in the butt. In an age of overly polite debate bending over backward to reach a happy consensus within an increasingly centrist political dialogue, Hitchens pointedly pitches himself in contrast. He bemoans the loss of the skills of dialectical thinking evident in contemporary society. He understands the importance of disagreement-to personal integrity, to informed discussion, to true progress-heck, to democracy itself. Epigrammatic, spunky, witty, in your face, timeless and timely, this book is everything you would expect from a mentoring contrarian.

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Re:

Postby nawabs » 03 Apr 2012 08:40

JE Menon wrote:Guys, am desperately in need of Durant's

Case for India

and the Civilization book with the chapter of India.

Have tried high and low to get them with no success...

Any way of forwarding to me will be much appreciated, will pay.

jmarvind at yahoo

If you want,go to this link and buy it.It will cost Rs. 200
http://www.strandbookstall.com/DetailsV ... uctNo=4990

member_19686
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Re: Re:

Postby member_19686 » 03 Apr 2012 09:08

nawabs wrote:
JE Menon wrote:Guys, am desperately in need of Durant's

Case for India

and the Civilization book with the chapter of India.

Have tried high and low to get them with no success...

Any way of forwarding to me will be much appreciated, will pay.

jmarvind at yahoo

If you want,go to this link and buy it.It will cost Rs. 200
http://www.strandbookstall.com/DetailsV ... uctNo=4990

Civilization book can be read here:

http://archive.org/stream/storyofcivili ... 1/mode/2up

Case for India here:

http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/scripts/Ful ... 0110009744

ramana
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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 07 Apr 2012 06:09

Michael D. Petraglia, Bridget Allchin - The Evolution and History of Human Populations in South Asia
Publisher: Sрringer | 2007-05-03 | ISBN: 1402055617 | 477 pages |


This is the first volume of its kind on prehistoric cultures of South Asia. The book brings together archaeologists, biological anthropologists, geneticists and linguists in order to provide a comprehensive account of the history and evolution of human populations residing in the subcontinent. New theories and methodologies presented provide new interpretations about the cultural history and evolution of populations in South Asia.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 11 Apr 2012 10:26

Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar By Barry Eichengreen 2011 | 192 Pages | ISBN: 0199596719



For more than half a century, the dollar has been not just America's currency but the world's. It is used globally by importers, exporters, investors, governments and central banks alike. This singular role of the dollar is a source of strength for the United States. It is, as a critic of U.S.policies once put it, America's "exorbitant privilege." But now, with U.S. budget deficits extending as far as the eye can see, holding dollars is viewed as a losing proposition. Some say that the dollar may soon cease to be the world's standard currency - which would depress U.S. living standards and weaken the country's international influence.In Exorbitant Privilege, one of our foremost economists, Barry Eichengreen, traces the rise of the dollar to international prominence. He shows how the greenback dominated internationally in the second half of the 20th century for the same reasons that the United States dominated the global economy.But now, with the rise of China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies, America no longer towers over the global economy. It follows, Eichengreen argues, that the dollar will not be as dominant. But this does not mean that coming changes need be sudden and dire - or that the dollar is doomed tolose its international status. Challenging the presumption that there is room for only one true global currency, Eichengreen shows that several currencies have regularly shared this role. What was true in the distant past will be true, once again, in the not-too-distant future. The dollar will lose its international currencystatus, Eichengreen warns, only if the United States repeats the mistakes that led to the financial crisis and only if it fails to put its fiscal and financial house in order. Incisive, challenging and iconoclastic, Exorbitant Privilege, is a fascinating analysis of the changes that lie ahead. It is a challenge, equally, to those who warn that the dollar is doomed and to those who regard its continuing dominance as inevitable.



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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 13 Apr 2012 08:10



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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby kunalverma » 15 Apr 2012 07:11

Long Road to Siachen: The Question Why

Bob McKerrow is from New Zealand; one of the big time adventurers and an authority on Antartica. Quite an honour to have him comment extensively on the Siachen book. This review was published a couple of weeks ago, after an avalanche killed 120 plus soldiers in the region.

http://bobmckerrow.blogspot.co.uk/2012/ ... s.html?m=1

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 16 Apr 2012 06:33

Eric Walberg, "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games"
English | ISBN: 098335393X | 2011 | 300 pages |

The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism.

The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include: * US imperial strategy as an outgrowth of British imperialism, and its transformation following the collapse of the Soviet Union; * the significance of the creation of Israel with respect to the imperial project; * the repositioning of Russia in world politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union; * the emerging role of China and Iran in Eurasia; * the emerging opposition to the US and NATO.

As the critical literature on NATO, the new Russia, and the Middle East is fragmented, this work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world's point of view, as it is the main focus of all the "Great Games”. It strives to bridge the gap between Western, Russian and Middle Eastern readers with an analysis that is accessible and appeals to all critical thinkers, and at the same time provides the tools to analyze the current game as it evolves. The Great Games of yore - Britain vs. Russia and their empires in the 19th century, and the US vs. the Soviet Union in the 20th century - no longer translate merely as the US vs. Russia or Russia/ China. A major new player is a collective one, NATO, which today is as vital as the emperor's clothes to justify the global reach of US imperialism. Today, the "playing field” - the geopolitical context - is broader than it was in either the 19th or 20th century games, though Eurasia continues to be "center field”, where most of the world's population and energy resources lie. The existence of Israel is an anomaly which seriously complicates the shaping of the geopolitical game.

Its roles in the Great Games as both colony and an imperial power in its own right, is analyzed in the context of the history of Judaism and its relations with both the western Christian and the Muslim worlds.




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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 19 Apr 2012 07:20

Bollywood: A History By Mihir Bose
2007 | 320 Pages | ISBN: 0752428357 , 8174365087 |



The first comprehensive history of India’s film industry, one that now rivals Hollywood.
Hollywood may define our idea of movies but it is the city of Bombay on the west coast of India that is now the center of world cinema. Every year the Indian film industry produces more than a 1,000 feature films, every day fourteen million Indians go to a movie and, a billion more people a year buy tickets for Indian movies than for Hollywood ones. The rise of Bombay as the film capital of the world has been remarkable. Bollywood takes the cinematic tech-niques of Hollywood and uses them to produce movies that bear no relation to the original, but have a compelling appeal, that, in the last half a century, has enthralled audiences throughout eastern Europe, the Middle East and north Africa. The movies themselves are a self contained world with their multiple song and dance routines, intense melodrama, a plot that contains everything from farce to tragedy, but always produces a happy ending. The men and women who create these movies are even more remarkable and it is this fantastic, rich, diverse story, a veritable Indian fairyland that Mihir Bose, a native of Bombay, tells with vivid brilliance, in the first comprehensive history of this major social and cultural phenomenon.
Bollywood movies may only recently have begun to be noticed in the west, but they have long defined the very concept of cinema for many millions across the globe. While the name Bollywood echoes and acknowledges its ******** American parentage the son has long since taken over from the father.



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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 25 Apr 2012 07:22


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 26 Apr 2012 07:12

The First Global Man: The Americas Before and After Columbus

By Jeremy Adelman


Image
Image

The last half century has not been kind to Christopher Columbus. Drawing on a study of exhumed skulls from fifteenth-century Europe, an article in the most recent Yearbook of Physical Anthropology found that syphilis, first diagnosed in Europe in 1495, was carried back to the continent by Columbus' crew. Within a decade, the bacterium had spread to European soldiers in India, who then infected Asians, making syphilis the first global epidemic. Once the great explorer, Columbus was now just an agent of venereal disease.

Columbus has long stood at the center of debates about globalization: when and how it began, and who it has helped and hurt in the five centuries since he made landfall in 1492. His discovery of the Americas was central to the process of integration and growing interdependence of the various parts of the world, one that continues to this day.

For many years, historians and the public viewed Columbus as a visionary, a heroic discoverer, and a defier of orthodoxy. In the 1960s, however, the prevailing academic view of the Genoese mariner became less flattering. Columbus was slathered with blame for all the destruction that followed in his wake: tens of millions of Native Americans dead and another ten million Africans enslaved. Yes, Columbus connected the hemispheres and ushered in the modern world, but the benefits accrued mainly to Europeans. Revisionist historians, such as Kirkpatrick Sale, captured this mood. Sale's popular 1990 account, The Conquest of Paradise, argued that Columbus spearheaded a campaign to plunder and destroy the Edenic world of the Americas. Instead of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the American landfall, Sale and others lamented it, echoing the growing public discontent with globalization itself.

Among scholars, the simplistic debate over whether Columbus was good or bad has become considerably more nuanced. The full significance of 1492 for global history -- and the history of globalization -- has come into ever-sharper relief. Historians now focus more on the role that native peoples played in the course of European expansion and conquest, treating them less as passive victims and more as active participants in global integration.

There has been a broader shift, too. Instead of seeing the discovery and colonization of the Americas as just one in a series of discoveries and breakthroughs, a school of thought now identifies 1492 as the central pivot of world history. The first popular book to do this was the scientist Jared Diamond's 1997 bestseller, Guns, Germs, and Steel, which tried to explain how Europeans came to dominate the world -- how they came to possess lethal technologies and biological immunities. For Diamond, the conquest was more or less inevitable, and the effects of the clash less important than its course.

It is against this backdrop that the journalist Charles Mann has written two major books that, more sharply than any others, ask how 1492 shaped the subsequent centuries of global integration. The conquest of Native American worlds is not his subject. It is rather the conquest's effects and legacies, including lessons that Native Americans and their descendants can teach the rest of us about the use of resources. Native Americans may have been victims. But whereas Diamond saw them as doomed because of their technological backwardness, Mann reveals that they had accumulated a staggering amount of knowledge on the eve of the conquest. Their indigenous innovations triggered an economic bonanza and kicked off what we today call globalization.

NATIVE AMERICA'S GOT TALENT

What did the world look like before 1492? This is the question Mann asks in 1491, which depicts the Western Hemisphere before it was inducted into global trade and immigration. Mann, a popular science author, has written several books on the intersections of science, technology, and commerce. Standing aloof from academic squabbles, he is able to put scholarly findings in perspective, free of insider jargon. Mann brings science to life through his narratives of discovery; his heroes are the anthropologists, archaeologists, and demographers who shatter received wisdoms about the past by applying their tools to anomalies and unexplained histories.

Mann seems to get particularly excited when the discoveries debunk the textbooks he was raised on, such as William McNeill's 1967 A World History, which ignored the Americas when charting the wellsprings of civilization. Mann forgives McNeill for reflecting the conventional wisdom of his day, which explained the so-called rise of the West as the result of an endogenous European capacity for progress. But he has no patience for the historians who commit the same oversight in his son's textbooks several decades later. "The thesis of the book in your hands," he tells readers, "is that Native American history merits more than nine pages."

Mann's books invite readers to picture the past differently. He asks them to imagine flying over the urban sprawl of Tiahuanaco, in modern-day Bolivia, one of the oldest metropolises of the ancient Andes, or to examine from a height the farm of Dona Rosario, a descendant of runaway slaves in Brazil. These snapshots of the New World show how nature was ordered, resources organized, and property tended. What may look ramshackle or dilapidated from one angle makes good sense from another.

From such unusual vantage points, Mann builds an unusual counternarrative about the Americas before the conquest. Where Diamond stressed some basic differences between peoples (their technological prowess, their biological immunities, their cultures of warfare), Mann emphasizes human commonalities. For instance, he argues that Eurasians and the original Americans were not so different in the way they dealt with nature. Mann wants to bury the myth of the New World as a pristine Eden where people lived suspended in time, incapable of turning nature into their garden. The conquistadors often justified the devastation they wrought by proclaiming that the defeated were simply part of nature, not its masters. Ironically, centuries later, purportedly progressive environmentalist authors, such as Sale, would similarly argue that, in Mann's words, Native Americans lived "in a spiritual balance with Nature." Mann shows that Native Americans were in fact something very different, and in that sense familiar: inventive people who molded the world around them.

To make this case, Mann turns to demographers and archaeologists, such as Henry Dobyns and William Denevan, whose recent research has confirmed that pre-Columbian civilizations exploited nature to support large, densely populated, urbanized societies. Whereas in the early 1960s, the prevailing view was that the New World had only a few million people when the Spanish arrived, nowadays the more accepted figures are between 40 mil-lion and 80 million; some scholars argue the population may have reached 200 million.

In order to sustain such large numbers and such immense cities as Cahokia (in today's midwestern United States) and Tiahuanaco, the original Americans had to do more than pick berries; they had to transform their environment. Mann demonstrates this by invoking recent findings that the first Native Americans crossed from Siberia to Alaska earlier than was traditionally thought, perhaps as far back as 25,000 years ago. They thus had time to develop their own techniques for shaping the virgin landscape. In central Mexico, Native Americans devised a complex system of hydraulic engineering. At a time when Europeans were still counting with their fingers, the Olmec had already invented the number zero. By 3000 BC, there were fully 25 complex cities in the New World. And Mann speculates that before Columbus arrived, up to two-thirds of what is now the continental United States was covered in fields, with much of the Southwest terraced and irrigated.

Europeans, in short, were not the only ones who laid waste to the Americas; so did the Native Americans. But Mann makes the case for a particular Native American approach to the environment and the use of natural resources that people today would do well to study and possibly emulate. In the thousands of years it took for the Native Americans to adapt to their environments, they devised strategies to make exploitation sustainable. Consider the Amazon, which would be a wet desert if cultivated like a European farm because intensive tillage would deprive the weathered, acidic soils of the energy they need. Native Americans turned this rainforest into an arable frontier capable of feeding millions.

The European conquest did not entirely bury the evidence for this alternative model of resource husbandry. Asked to write a magazine article in the 1980s on the battle over Pacific Northwest salmon, Mann found proof that Native Americans in present-day Oregon had long ago figured out how to extract fish in large numbers without killing them off. Their descendants have continued the practice. So Native Americans were, and to some extent remain, the champions of a balanced method of extracting resources. Their lesson for today is not that one should give up on technological progress and become subject to the land. It is that one can master the land without sowing the seeds of its destruction.

UNFAIR TRADE

In 1491, Mann showed how Native Americans, like Eurasians, harbored ancient traditions of innovation and remade their surroundings. But there was a fundamental difference. In the Eastern Hemisphere, inventions spread quickly through trade, and in doing so, they spurred new technologies. The western half of the globe saw very little, if any, traffic between its hubs of human improvement.

All societies, Mann insists, miss technological breakthroughs and have blindspots that can be bridged by traffic in ideas and goods. The problem for Native Americans before 1492 was that they were cut off from African, Asian, and European discoveries -- and even innovations on their own continent -- that could have filled those gaps. Lacking seaworthy craft or effective beasts of burden (the llama is a prickly porter), Native American communities were largely unable to travel, and so most became inward-oriented.

Mann's sequel, 1493, is an account of the Americas and globalization: how trade and immigration, kicked off by Columbus, transformed the New World, and how the New World, in turn, remade the old one. The idea of a Columbian exchange comes from one of Mann's scientific heroes, the environmental historian Alfred Crosby. Crosby's revolutionary 1972 book, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492, focused not only on the humans who traveled between the Old and New Worlds but also on the diseases (smallpox to the Americas, syphilis to Eurasia), crops (sugar went west, potatoes went east), and animals (pigs tore through the American underbrush with predator-free abandon) that accompanied them. This exchange was the most important ecological event in the planet's history since the death of the dinosaurs. Crosby overturned a long-standing academic tradition of seeing the integration of the hemispheres as flowing one way, from Europe to the Americas. He also helped tear down the view that progress and economic growth were endogenous to Europe.

Even the victims of Columbus' landfall contributed to the welfare of Eurasians. Centuries of Native Americans' genetic improvements to maize and potatoes, for example, let the rest of humankind extract more calories per acre. Although the Native Americans themselves were nearly wiped out by diseases brought by Columbus and his followers, in the centuries after 1492, the rest of the world's population began to climb steadily. By laying waste to the Americas, Europeans acquired the means to rebuild their own societies, which had been decimated by medieval plagues and invasions. Along the way, of course, they spun tales of having discovered "natural man" living in the unspoiled forest.

For the past four decades, historians have been living in the shadow of The Columbian Exchange; indeed, Crosby remains the dominant character of 1493. This may explain why the publication of Mann's sequel has made much less of a splash than did 1491; the gist of the argument and much of the evidence are so familiar. Old World crops, such as tobacco and sugar, made such places as Virginia and Brazil possible. As parasites killed off the locals, Europeans enslaved Africans, who became a new source of labor. Drawing on Crosby, Mann terms the years following 1492 a "nascent Homogenocene" -- a biological era of increasing homogenization -- because the conquest created the conditions for the mixing, swapping, and blending that have yielded a more biologically uniform planet. Still, although 1493 is less of a concept buster than 1491, it does illuminate the full extent of the exchange, adding recent empirical findings to Crosby's foundational model.

Mann's new narrative has plenty of twists, and even some instances of inadvertent Native American revenge. He describes how the explorer Francis Drake brought the potato back to -England, where it spread to Ireland and Ukraine -- only to betray the peasants who had come to depend on it when it fell prey to diseases for which it had no immunities. (To compound the irony, the culprit was a fungus that came with guano, the excrement that had been stripped from Peruvian islands in order to fertilize European farms.) The exchange came full circle when, following the potato famine of 1845-52, the Irish started moving in droves to the Americas.

Mann also globalizes what was for Crosby an essentially Atlantic exchange. New World resources and crops reached as far as China, establishing a worldwide commercial network. Europeans' access to American silver allowed them to trade for Chinese silks, bringing China back into the international order, from which it had withdrawn in the fifteenth century. China also imported new grains and tubers, which allowed its agrarian frontier to spread and its population to grow. The humble American sweet potato helped China double its population, to 300 million, by 1800.

These developments support Mann's view that globalization started much earlier than most scholars assume. But his figures are not quite as reliable as one might hope. His estimate, for example, that China sucked up half of the New World's silver output does not rest on solid foundations. Mann's 1493 also contains a number of embellished claims, such as his assertion that Mexico City was the first of the world's "modern, globalized megalopolises."

Despite these rhetorical flights, Mann succeeds in demonstrating that after 1492, the world became not just interconnected but interdependent. From the convergence of two old worlds emerged one: ours. But 1493 is no emollient history of globalization. Mann shows how the transfer of biota, knowledge, and assets from Europe to the Americas was a profound, wrenching, and, for Native Americans, pitilessly devastating process. By 1650, 90 percent of the native population had been wiped out. In 1491, Mann recounts how large and sustainable the pre-Columbian population was; in 1493, he details the findings of demographic historians, such as Noble David Cook, who have charted the wave after wave of epidemics that ravaged the survivors of the conquest. Meanwhile, the countries most greedily importing American silver, China and Spain, were soon beset by inflation and economic turmoil. Still, in the end, biology, not technology, gave Europeans the advantage.

NEW WORLD ORDER

The most obvious contribution Mann's books make to the history of globalization is the often forgotten point that the New World was central to the story of global integration. His books will continue to challenge Eurocentric histories, such as Niall Ferguson's recent Civilization: The West and the Rest, in which a half dozen Western "killer apps" do the handiwork of Europe's ineluctable triumph over the rest, including the Americas. Mann reminds those who tend to think of the Americas as having remained essentially separate from the rest of the world until the United States emerged as a superpower that the hemispheres actually had a deep history of interaction. And he forcefully rebuts those, such as Ferguson, who tend to think that Europeans invented modernity on their own. Globalization was not a unique European creation; it could not have been possible without the resources that Native Americans had already figured out how to exploit before 1492.

Mann's second message is that the accumulated learning of the original Americans -- their mastery of nature -- survived the catastrophe of the Columbian exchange. The wardens of that learning are the Native Americans' descendants, who continue to make use of resources in artful and productive ways. Take, for example, Rosario and her family in Brazil. By letting messy shrubbery grow along the tributaries of the Amazon River, they create habitats to harvest shrimp alongside trees for producing limes, coconuts, and hearts of palm. This mishmash does not look like an orderly farm, but it is lucrative and sustainable. Models such as these serve as a rebuke to trendy environmentalists in the West who want to slow or stop the human exploitation of natural resources altogether. And it challenges those industrialists who want to release man and machine from all constraints in a mad rush to exploit today's commodity boom. The clash of these two philosophies takes place almost exclusively in the global North. Most of their counterparts in the South do not think much of either option and reject the false choice between pure predation and deforestation, on the one hand, and untouched wilderness, on the other.

It is no secret that globalization has been a disaster for some and a boon to others. That it has been the cause of great ecological transformations, dating back to Columbus' arrival in the Americas, is less well understood. Any future textbook on world history will have to reckon with this development and its portrayal in Mann's books.


ramana
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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 26 Apr 2012 10:09

Western Power in Asia: Its Slow Rise and Swift Fall, 1415 - 1999 By Arthur Cotterell
2009 | 448 Pages | ISBN: 0470824891




For centuries, the major poweres of the West were seduced by the allure of the countries of "the Far East". Spices, textiles, silk and tea were the staples of East- West trade. But competition between Western traders eventually caused military intervention in Asian affairs and the establishment of colonial empires. These actions have shapred the history of mankind and left a legacy that still reverberates throughout Asia.

Western Power in Asia is a unique contribution to the understanding of present- day Asia. Essential reading for anyone interested in world history, Arthur Cotterell offers fascinating insights into five hundred extraordinary years of power and influence by the West, which disappeared spectacularly after the Second World War. The author's ability to tell both sides of the story, with the aid of contemporary illustrations as well as quotations, makes this book a tremendous resource for students of Asian history. And because the entire colonial experience is covered for the first time within a single volume, Western Power in Asia also provides the general reader with an unusual and invaluable perspective on East- West relations.

As countries such as China and India become key players on the world stage, Western Power in Asia provides a timely reminder of the path that led to their present positions, while allowing a poignant opportunity to reflect on how they might in future treat their Western trading partners.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 27 Apr 2012 19:46

Nile Green - Islam and the Army in Colonial India: Sepoy Religion in the Service of Empire
Published: 2009-05-25 | ISBN: 0521898455 | 236 pages |

A ground-breaking study of the cultural world of the Muslim soldiers of colonial India. Set in Hyderabad in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the book focuses on the soldiers' relationships with the faqir holy men who protected them and the British officers they served. Drawing on Urdu as well as European sources, the book uses the biographies of Muslim holy men and their military followers to recreate the extraordinary encounter between a barracks culture of miracle stories, carnivals, drug-use and madness with a colonial culture of mutiny memoirs, Evangelicalism, magistrates and the asylum. It explores the ways in which the colonial army helped promote this sepoy religion while at the same time attempting to control and suppress certain aspects of it. The book brings to light the existence of a distinct 'barracks Islam' and shows its importance to the cultural no less than the military history of colonial India.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 01 May 2012 09:58

The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History By J.M. Blaut
1993 | 246 Pages | ISBN: 0898623480 , 0898623499 |



This book challenges one of the most pervasive and powerful beliefs of our time concerning world history and world geography. This is the doctrine of European diffusionism, the belief that the rise of Europe to modernity and world dominance is due to some unique European quality of race, environment, culture, mind, or spirit, and that progress for the rest of the world results from the diffusion of European civilization. J.M. Blaut persuasively argues that this doctrine is not grounded in the facts of history and geography, but in the ideology of colonialism. It is the world model which Europeans constructed to explain, justify, and assist their colonial expansion.

The book first defines the Eurocentric diffusionist model of the world as one that invents a permanent world core, an "Inside," in which cultural evolution is natural and continuous, and a permanent periphery, and "Outside," in which cultural evolution is mainly an effect of the diffusion of ideas, commodities, settlers, and political control from the core. The ethnohistory of the doctrine is traced from its 16th-century origins, through its efflorescence in the period of classical colonialism, to its present form in theories of economic development, modernization, and new world order. Blaut demonstrates that most "Western" scholarship is to some extent diffusionist and based implicitly in the idea that the world has one permanent center from which culture-changing ideas tend to emanate. Eurocentric diffusionism has shaped our attitudes concerning race and the environment, psychology and society, technology and politics.


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