Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

The Strategic Issues & International Relations Forum is a venue to discuss issues pertaining to India's security environment, her strategic outlook on global affairs and as well as the effect of international relations in the Indian Subcontinent. We request members to kindly stay within the mandate of this forum and keep their exchanges of views, on a civilised level, however vehemently any disagreement may be felt. All feedback regarding forum usage may be sent to the moderators using the Feedback Form or by clicking the Report Post Icon in any objectionable post for proper action. Please note that the views expressed by the Members and Moderators on these discussion boards are that of the individuals only and do not reflect the official policy or view of the Bharat-Rakshak.com Website. Copyright Violation is strictly prohibited and may result in revocation of your posting rights - please read the FAQ for full details. Users must also abide by the Forum Guidelines at all times.



Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2294
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

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

Postby Rony » 07 Dec 2012 17:39

Absolute Sweden – A country in transformation

When Mikael Jalving’s book ”Absolute Sweden – A journey into the realm of silence” was published in Denmark a little over a year ago, it sparked a heated debate. Are things really as bad as this in Sweden? Do the Swedes walk around clenching their fists while displaying a united, happy front to the outside world? In his book the author travels around a Sweden characterized by fear. People want to talk about injustices they see, but are afraid to do so. The political and media elite have decided which opinions you can air in public, and those who dare defy the sanctions are disgraced and humiliated publicly.

“Sweden is a democracy only in name,” writes one man in an e-mail to Mikael Jalving.

“Many Swedes are frustrated that our voices are not being heard. The media and politicians are continually hounding people who don’t like the immigration policy, because they want to silence future critics beforehand,” writes another, begging Jalving and other Danish journalists to shed some light on the situation.

A large Swedish publishing house immediately wanted to translate and publish the book, but changed their minds after two weeks. Only now it has been made available in Swedish, with a lightly toned-down title; “Absolute Sweden – A country in transformation”. But as I write this article, it becomes clear that the book stands without a distributor. At the last moment, Recito förlag changed their minds, and suddenly and without warning sent the following e-mail to Mikael Jalving’s publisher:

”We regret to inform you that we have decided not to distribute the book, because it would put us in a situation we do not feel comfortable with. We wish you the best of luck in finding a distributor who can help you, and hope our late decision doesn’t put you out too much.”

“I have come to understand that the book is, as you say, a hot potato, but this is bizarre. It strengthens the thesis in the book, though, as did the so-called PK-affair,” Jalving says.

Oh yes, the PK-affair. In 2011, Mikael Jalving was invited to talk about his book at Publicistklubben Södra (PK for short, a debate club for journalists) in Malmö. However, when it turned out he had talked about the book at a meeting held by the National Democrats, PK chairman Per Svensson banned Jalving from speaking at the meeting. A poisonous argument led to PK vice chairwoman Ingrid Carlqvist, now editor-in-chief of Dispatch International, resigning in protest.

“There is some sort of ‘technical’ argumentation going on, that really serves the purpose of barring a genuine debate. But it’s easier to shut a small, foreign writer up than to silence Tryckfrihetssällskapet (The Free Press Society) and Dispatch International,” says Mikael Jalving.

As a Dane, he found a shortcut to loosening the tongues of the Swedes he met – he would simply start a discussion on Swedish versus Danish alcohol habits, and that would open the gate to heavier, more serious topics.

”Things that contradicted the official, glossy picture of Sweden slowly surfaced. People have their own experiences of reality; there’s a massive overflow of experiences that cannot be described; there is no language to describe what these individual experiences mean, no context to put them in.”

There are historical reasons why the debate climate is so fundamentally different in Denmark and Sweden, Jalving believes. Denmark has fought and lost wars, first against Sweden, then Germany. Sweden’s history during the last century is a story of unabated success. Sweden has managed to get out of every conflict without having to go to war, and yet has always come out on the winning side, apparently morally unscathed.

”Large Swedish corporations have led the way to success and created an industrial-political alliance. I believe this is the key to the apparent consensus – why fight when everything is going so well? The problem is that a deconstruction of what made Sweden so successful in the first place is now underway, the strong Swedish culture-state that generated so many good things.”

So, is it too late to turn things around? Not at all. Mikael Jalving believes that the anger now only visible as a sizzling on the internet, will sooner or later grow strong enough as to make people overcome their fear of speaking out.

”After I’ve spoken to people, I’ve sometimes gotten the feeling that Sweden has given up, there’s a widespread apathy. But in the end, when enough people are affected by the consequences of what’s happening now, then the debate will come. After all, the Swedes are only human,” Jalving says with a smile.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9664
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

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

Postby abhishek_sharma » 08 Dec 2012 06:43

Book: Durbar: Author: Tavleen Singh

Image

Book: Durbar

Author: Tavleen Singh

Publisher: Hachette

Price: Rs 599

Pages: 312

A recurring theme in veteran journalist Tavleen Singh’s exceedingly readable Durbar is that the country has been let down by its rulers. Insulated from the harsh realities of the country by a cocoon of privilege, most politicians are out of touch with the real political, social and cultural problems of India, she argues. Singh traces the root cause of this phenomenon to dynastic politics, which has installed a ruling class, which looks to the West as a role model and is unfamiliar with India’s rich heritage. Rajiv Gandhi, for instance, despite his speeches against power brokers in the party, was influenced largely by his advisers into taking the wrong decisions. The precedent for dynastic politics was set by the Gandhis and has since been emulated by other parties and politicians.

Singh gives us a peep into the darbari politics of the Gandhis in the Seventies and Eighties. She herself was part of the exclusive social circle in which Rajiv and Sonia once moved. The Gandhi coterie included Arun and Nina Singh, Suman and Manju Dubey, Romi Chopra, Ottavio and Maria Quattrocchi, Satish and Sterre Sharma and Mohan and Nimal Thadani. With her eye for detail and an incisive touch, Singh provides us some juicy nuggets. You get to know how the politically privileged conduct themselves in private. Politics was never discussed with the Gandhis during the Emergency. There is a riveting account of a dinner party conversation between Naveen Patnaik, now chief minister of Orissa, and Sonia Gandhi. Patnaik was not sure whether it was proper for him to mingle with Rajiv and Sonia since Indira Gandhi had put his father Biju Patnaik in jail but he finally decided that etiquette demanded he go across and say hello. Admiring Sonia’s dress, he asked if it was a Valentino. Sonia replied that it was stitched by her local darzi.

At another party, Singh encountered Rukhsana Sultana, Sanjay’s infamous Emergency aide, dressed in chiffon and pearls and sporting elegant dark glasses. She boasted of her social work in the slums of old Delhi, introducing Muslim women to modern ideas like family planning. She claimed she was a role model for these women. A few week later, there were riots in the Walled City because of Sultana’s forcible sterilisation programme and Singh, herself, was nearly attacked by a mob since her sunglasses caused some people to mistake her for Rukshana.

Despite her past proximity to Sonia, Singh fails to explain the Sonia enigma. Rajiv’s wife once swore she hated politics so fervently that she would rather see her children begging on the streets than joining politics. Sonia, according to Singh, was a good cook, a generous friend and a connoisseur of beautiful things. She had an impressive collection of shahtoosh shawls and once sent a Russian sable coat to Europe to be re-cut by Fendi. Sonia, however, seemed remarkably indifferent to social causes and to India in general. She was a major influence on her husband and weeded out people whom she considered undesirable from his social circle. She went out of her way to befriend Singh and sometimes bought clothes for her son Aatish, when the writer was temporarily in somewhat straitened circumstances after separating from her Pakistani partner. But when Singh wrote a profile in India Today, which was not entirely flattering — she blames a colleague on the editorial desk for adding some vitriol to a piece which the editor, Aroon Purie, felt was too bland — Sonia never forgave her and cut her dead at every subsequent encounter.

Singh’s gutsy conduct and determination come through in her recollections of covering trouble spots, particularly Punjab. She had the temerity to ask Bhindranwale if he had been funded by the Congress, after which the interview was hastily terminated. She was under a very real threat from Bhindranwale’s goons after he publicly criticised her writings. She managed to sneak into curfew-bound Amritsar after Operation Blue Star by sheer bluff and bluster, waving a letter from her father to General K S Brar.

Singh emphasises that though she might have come from the same privileged class as those who ruled India, her career in journalism has taught her to make up for deficiencies in her early education. For instance, she has re-learnt Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. But Singh cannot completely shed her upper-class instincts. There are occasional digs at middle-class mores, from commenting derisively on the Janata lot of politicians slurping their tea and picking their noses to the terylene shirts and badly cut trousers worn by clerks. She recounts with horror, the shabby state of the toilets she was compelled to use during her election tours. Singh’s self-righteous streak that she knows best, comes through very clearly. There are no shades of grey in her positions, she sees issues in clear-cut, black and white terms.


svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31

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

Postby svinayak » 17 Dec 2012 10:54

Turn the Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level
David Marquet (Author)

Hardcover: 250 pages
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608323749
From the vantage point of the commander of the USS Santa Fe, read how the crew completely turned the ship around, going from worst to first by questioning many of our basic leadership assumptions and shifting from take-control authority to give-control empowerment.

Share the author's insights as the crew gains unprecedented decision making authority, the risks of doing so, and the reward of an exponentially more effective and more resilient organization.

Learn how to achieve astounding results by applying the author's practical steps, such as
- Release proactivity and initiative with ''I intend to...''
- Build teamwork and minimize errors with ''deliberate action''
- Enhance responsibility and ownership by eliminating top-down monitoring
- Improving morale by focusing on excellence rather than errors.

See what it's really like to operate a nuclear submarine -- from navigation to missile launching -- and learn the mechanisms used to propel Santa Fe not only to the top but to achieve a lasting transformation, one that resulted in the ship's continued operational excellence and the highly disproportionate promotion rate among Santa Fe's crew long after Marquet had left command.
Foreword by Stephen Covey, who rode Captain Marquet's submarine and called it the most empowered organization he'd ever seen.
''I don't know of a finer model of this kind of empowering leadership than Captain Marquet. And in the pages that follow you will find a model for your pathway.'' --Stephen R. Covey

''To say I'm a fan of David Marquet would be an understatement.... I'm a fully fledged groupie. He is the kind of leader who comes around only once a generation. He is the kind of leader who doesn't just know how to lead, he knows how to build leaders. His ideas and lessons are invaluable to anyone who wants to build an organization that will outlive them.'' --Simon Sinek, optimist and author of Start with Why

''How do we release the intellect and initiative of each member of the organization toward a common purpose? Here's the answer: With fascinating storytelling and a deep understanding of what motivates and inspires. David Marquet provides leaders in the military, business, and education a powerful vehicle that will delight, provoke, and encourage them to act.'' --Michael P. Peters, president of the St. John's College, Santa Fe

''I owe a lot to Captain David Marquet ... not only for turning the Santa Fe around during some REALLY bad times but I learned many lessons on leadership from him that have been invaluable in my post-Navy life.

I preach the three legs (control, competence, clarity) of Leader-Leader everyday to empower my people and move the decisions to where the information lives.... I used these principles to turn around the GE Dallas Generator Repair Department, which was in crisis when I arrived in 2010 and now is the best Generator Repair Department in the GE Network.... Now I am tasked with turning around the Dallas Steam Turbine Repair Department....'' --Adam McAnally, Steam Turbine Cell Leader at the GE Dallas Service Center and former crewmember, USS Santa Fe

David's views on leadership, and I repeat I heartily endorse these, are:

1) "Our greatest struggle is within ourselves. Whatever sense we have of thinking we know something is a barrier to continued learning."
2) The way to build a great team is to push decision making down, way down. The more each person feels he has the ability to do what he needs to in his immediate working environment, the more he will "own" his job and the more engaged he will be.
3) Engaged people will bubble with ideas about how to make the whole enterprise better. Some of these ideas will be relevant to a particular section and some for the entire organization. For the larger scope ideas, the originators will go out and get the cooperation/approval of others necessary to make the improvement happen.
4) It is not enough to push the decision making way down. You also have to send down responsibility, authority and the requisite resources. If you do not do this simultaneously, you simply increase the frustration level. Would you invite some one to come and smell dinner but not eat it? Case closed.
5) The mission is critically important. What is it, how is it defined and communicated, and is it a critical determinant of what decisions are made and how they are made? The answers to these questions will determine the success of the organization.

There is much more but these give you the picture. There are wonderful anecdotes throughout the book. For example, Marquet relates an incident where he was denied the opportunity to sail with a submarine whose command he was to assume within a month. He just wanted to get a quick read on what he would soon be facing. The departing captain refused to take him for many reasons mostly unexplained. One explained reason was that Marquet would have taken up scarce sleeping space. What is interesting is the lesson Marquet draws from this incident and how it shapes his own future actions. I will quote directly from the book to illustrate this:



About the Author
A top graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, L. David Marquet led a distinguished career in the U.S. submarine force. He commanded the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe, stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Captain Marquet completely turned around Santa Fe, where the crew went from being ''worst to first.'' Santa Fe earned numerous awards for being the most improved ship in the Pacific and the most combat-effective ship in the squadron. Santa Fe continued to win awards after his departure and promoted a disproportionate number of officers and enlisted men to positions of increased responsibility. After riding USS Santa Fe, noted author Stephen R. Covey said it was the most empowering organization he'd ever seen and wrote about Captain Marquet's leadership practices in his book, The 8th Habit.
His bold and highly effective leadership can be summarized as ''give control, create leaders.'' He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and lives in Florida with his wife, Jane.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9664
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

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

Postby abhishek_sharma » 18 Dec 2012 05:43


svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31

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

Postby svinayak » 21 Dec 2012 10:57

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Jared Diamond (Author)


Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (December 31, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670024813
Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday—in evolutionary time—when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.

The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of years—a past that has mostly vanished—and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.
This is Jared Diamond’s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesn’t romanticize traditional societies—after all, we are shocked by some of their practices—but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, The World Until Yesterday will be essential and delightful reading.

In the broader scope of evolution, it was only “yesterday” 11,000 years ago when we progressed from hunter-gatherer groups to modern states. Along the way, we’ve changed the ways we resolve disputes, raise children, care for the old, practice faith, nourish ourselves, communicate, and a host of other mundane and monumental human activities. Diamond, author of the highly acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel (1999) and Collapse (2005), offers a penetrating look at the ways we have evolved by comparing practices of traditional societies and modern and industrialized societies. Diamond draws on his fieldwork in New Guinea, the Amazon, Kalahari, and other areas to compare the best and most questionable customs and practices of societies past and present. Diamond does not idealize traditional societies, with smaller populations and more interest in maintaining group harmony than modern societies organized by governments seeking to maintain order, but he does emphasize troubling trends in declining health and fitness as industrialization has spread to newly developing nations. In this fascinating book, Diamond brings fresh perspective to historic and contemporary ways of life with an eye toward those that are likely to enhance our future. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Publicity and television and media appearances will be full-throttle for Diamond, an acclaimed scholar and best-selling writer and opinion-shaper. --Vanessa Bush
From Bookforum
Unlike his earlier books, The World Until Yesterday is not concerned with constructing grand theories of historical change. Yet when his conceptual assumptions do surface, Diamond reveals his continuing debt to contemporary conventional wisdom. He remains in thrall to neoliberal politics and pop-evolutionary biological determinism. He seems characteristically unaware of the huge historical and anthropological literature complicating the categories of the traditional and the modern. His understanding of modern societies is thin, superficial, and overgeneralized: He ignores differences created by culture and political economy, making no distinctions among neoliberal capitalism, social democracy, and the authoritarian hybrids emerging in such places as China and Singapore. The ideas are muddled and unclear, but the strategy is a familiar one in Big Picture arguments: Evolutionary theory—or some crude facsimile of it—is trundled onstage to provide legitimacy for an author’s claims, regardless of whether the theory has any actual power to illuminate the subject in question. —Jackson Lears


Biography
Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He began his scientific career in physiology and expanded into evolutionary biology and biogeography. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Among Dr. Diamond's many awards are the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Japan's Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Prize honoring the Scientist as Poet, presented by Rockefeller University. He has published more than two hundred articles and several books including the New York Times bestseller "Guns, Germs, and Steel," which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.


http://magazine.ucla.edu/depts/forward- ... yesterday/

Q: Why choose this topic?

A: Because it's what I've lived for the last 50 years of my life. Since 1964, I've been working on the island of New Guinea in cultures that were and partly still are traditional, small-scale cultures without centralized government, without law courts, and doing many things in traditional ways that have all these fascinating differences from our own ways. They settle disputes in different ways, they have different attitudes towards danger, they raise their children differently, they treat their old people differently and their health is very different.

Some of those ways horrified me, but some of them were wonderful, and I've incorporated them into my own life. So my book originated from what I learned from my New Guinea friends, but then it broadened into a survey of traditional societies around the world.

Q: In the book, you talk about the shortcomings of research that's limited to what you call "WEIRD" societies.

A: It's an acronym coined by a former UCLA grad student named Joe Henrich M.A. '95, Ph.D. '99 and his colleagues, and it stands for "Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic." The essence is that when we talk about human societies and we make comparisons, usually the comparisons are [between such nations as] Germany, Japan, the United States, Argentina and Indonesia — advanced, industrialized, educated societies. And such societies didn't exist until 5,000 years ago, so they are just a narrow slice of humanity. Worse yet, most studies by psychologists are just on American college undergraduates who major in psychology. It's a "WEIRD" sample.

Q: You note in The World Until Yesterday how fast traditional societies often become Westernized. Does that have any bearing on the lessons we can learn from them?

A: In the case of New Guinea, on the coast, Europeans started prowling around in the 1600s, but the first colonial government wasn't set up in coastal New Guinea until the 1880s, so Westernization there has been going on very slowly. It's only been in the last few decades that the [Westernized] epidemic of diabetes started, so that has taken 400 years. In the highlands, Europeans didn't arrive until the 1930s and 1950s. I met highlanders who had only come under European influence five years before I met them, and yet they're already speaking pidgin English and some of them were writing. So there's enormous variation in speed. My guess is the quicker the speed of change, the more drastic the changes.

Q: What can we learn from traditional societies about religion?

A: Religion is one of those things that differ so much between traditional and modern societies. Religion is often conceived as belief in the supernatural and God. But there is much more to it than that. In fact, I conclude my chapter on religion with the stories of three friends of mine in whose lives religion is important for reasons that have nothing to do with theology. Almost all of us go through a phase where we deal with religion; either we lose our original faith or we were brought up without it and we get interested and explore religion, or we change religions as one of my friends did. All of us inevitably try to figure out what religion means to us. I think it's valuable to realize that religion is not just a matter of supernatural beliefs.

Q: One of the most poignant parts of the book was when you talk about how quickly people who come here from traditional societies begin to develop Western diseases. Why is that such a pernicious effect, and does the trend work in reverse?

A: Absolutely. There are lots of people who choose the reverse trend in the U.S. or elsewhere. Americans who have learned about traditional diets or are overweight and beginning to develop diabetes or heart problems may be able to avoid these problems by watching what they eat and by exercising. Whole countries have adopted these ideas as matters of national strategy, and the results are dramatic.


Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2294
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

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

Postby Rony » 21 Dec 2012 22:03

Land of seven rivers: History of India's Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

DID THE GREAT FLOOD OF INDIAN LEGEND ACTUALLY HAPPEN?
WHY DID THE BUDDHA WALK TO SARNATH TO GIVE HIS FIRST SERMON?
HOW DID THE EUROPEANS MAP INDIA?
The history of any country begins with its geography. With sparkling wit and intelligence, Sanjeev Sanyal sets off to explore India and look at how the country’s history was shaped by, among other things, its rivers, mountains and cities. Traversing remote mountain passes, visiting ancient archaeological sites, crossing rivers in shaky boats and immersing himself in old records and manuscripts, he considers questions about Indian history that we rarely ask: Why do Indians call their country Bharat? How did the British build the railways across the subcontinent? Why was the world’s highest mountain named after George Everest?
Moving from the geological beginnings of the subcontinent to present-day Gurgaon, Land of the Seven Rivers is riveting, wry and full of surprises. It is the most entertaining history of India you will ever read.



In Good Faith: A Journey in Search of an Unknown India by Saba Naqvi

Engaging and eloquent, In Good Faith makes a brilliant case for pluralism in India through examples of communities that live in perfect communal harmony with one another.

In an age when the idea of the religious community is determined by stereotypes and old fault lines, Saba Naqvi takes a journey across the country in search of her own identity among people, communities and shrines that challenge our predetermined notions of what makes a Muslim or a Hindu. Along the way, she finds places and people on the periphery of absolute identities, culling out a unique space for themselves in an orthodox, exclusivist society. In Good Faith is a journalistic account of the discovery of an India that at times defies belief the India of faraway shrines in quaint little places, and of communities and individuals who reach out to a common God.

From the Muslim forest goddess of Bengal to an unknown facet of the Shivaji legend in Maharashtra; from the disputed origins of the Shirdi Sai Baba to shrines across the land that are both temple and dargah this book shows how, in these little pockets, the idea of a tolerant India still survives. These neglected ground realities, argues the author, these little islands of pluralism, music, art and culture, may yet provide a counter to fundamentalism.

Kukreja
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 76
Joined: 24 Aug 2010 19:28

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

Postby Kukreja » 21 Dec 2012 23:26

anyone have a recommendation for some books on partition?

I've read Narendra Singh Sarila's book (The Shadow of the Great Game) but am looking for some more to read

Thanks!

Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2294
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

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

Postby Rony » 25 Dec 2012 08:25

^^

Two books about partition in the east which i haven't read but was told were interesting

Partition, Bengal and After: The Great Tragedy of India | Author: KP Mukhopadhaya

The Great Calcutta Killings and Noakhali Massacre | Author: Dinesh Sinha, A Dasgupta



Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying Hinduism and Islam in British India

Peter Gottschalk offers a compelling study of how, through the British implementation of scientific taxonomy in the subcontinent, Britons and Indians identified an inherent divide between mutually antagonistic religious communities.

England's ascent to power coincided with the rise of empirical science as an authoritative way of knowing not only the natural world, but the human one as well. The British scientific passion for classification, combined with the Christian impulse to differentiate people according to religion, led to a designation of Indians as either Hindu or Muslim according to rigidly defined criteria that paralleled classification in botanical and zoological taxonomies.

Through an historical and ethnographic study of the north Indian village of Chainpur, Gottschalk shows that the Britons' presumed categories did not necessarily reflect the Indians' concepts of their own identities, though many Indians came to embrace this scientism and gradually accepted the categories the British instituted through projects like the Census of India, the Archaeological Survey of India, and the India Museum. Today's propogators of Hindu-Muslim violence often cite scientistic formulations of difference that descend directly from the categories introduced by imperial Britain.

Religion, Science, and Empire will be a valuable resource to anyone interested in the colonial and postcolonial history of religion in India.



Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India

What India’s founders derived from Western political traditions as they struggled to free their country from colonial rule is widely understood. Less well-known is how India’s own rich knowledge traditions of two and a half thousand years influenced these men as they set about constructing a nation in the wake of the Raj. In Righteous Republic, Ananya Vajpeyi furnishes this missing account, a ground-breaking assessment of modern Indian political thought.

Taking five of the most important founding figures—Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru, and B. R. Ambedkar—Vajpeyi looks at how each of them turned to classical texts in order to fashion an original sense of Indian selfhood. The diverse sources in which these leaders and thinkers immersed themselves included Buddhist literature, the Bhagavad Gita, Sanskrit poetry, the edicts of Emperor Ashoka, and the artistic and architectural achievements of the Mughal Empire. India’s founders went to these sources not to recuperate old philosophical frameworks but to invent new ones. In Righteous Republic, a portrait emerges of a group of innovative, synthetic, and cosmopolitan thinkers who succeeded in braiding together two Indian knowledge traditions, the one political and concerned with social questions, the other religious and oriented toward transcendence.

Within their vast intellectual, aesthetic, and moral inheritance, the founders searched for different aspects of the self that would allow India to come into its own as a modern nation-state. The new republic they envisaged would embody both India’s struggle for sovereignty and its quest for the self.



The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran

This sophisticated and challenging book by the distinguished historian Ali M. Ansari explores the idea of nationalism in the creation of modern Iran. It does so by considering the broader developments in national ideologies that took place following the emergence of the European Enlightenment and showing how these ideas were adopted by a non-European state. Ansari charts a course through twentieth-century Iran, analyzing the growth of nationalistic ideas and their impact on the state and demonstrating the connections between historiographical and political developments. In so doing, he shows how Iran's different regimes manipulated ideologies of nationalism and collective historical memory to suit their own ends. Firmly relocating Reza Shah within the context of the Constitutional Revolution, Ansari argues that Reza Pahlavi's identification with a monarchy by Divine Right bore a greater resemblance to, and facilitated, the religious nationalism that catapulted Ayatollah Khomeini to power on the back of a populist and highly personalized mythology. Drawing on hitherto untapped sources, the book concludes that it was the revolutionary developments and changes that occurred during the first half of the twentieth century that paved the way for later radicalization. As the first book-length study of Iranian nationalism in nearly five decades, it will find an eager readership among scholars of the Middle East and those students more generally interested in questions of nationalism and ideology.



The Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial Hyderabad

svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31

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

Postby svinayak » 25 Dec 2012 22:37

The Evil Axis of Finance: The Us-Japan-China Stranglehold on the Global Future
by Richard Westra



Product Details
File Size: 1271 KB
Print Length: 245 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0932863906
Publisher: Clarity Press (March 1, 2012)

Publisher Comments:
Richard Westra's The Evil Axis of Finance fills in pages left blank in the flurry of meltdown writings with a highly accessible account of the insidious forces at work in the global economy. Westra explains, why, despite the existence of a raft of potential international investment outlets, a major share of global wealth and savings is still impelled toward the highly dubious Wall Street-centred casino; why an increasingly gaping chasm has opened up between ever bloating global financial activities and the real world economy of production and trade; why wealthy governments' injection of trillions of dollars into stumbling financial sectors across the globe is failing to create decent new jobs; and, why, nonetheless, this remains the preferred solution. He exposes the destructive systemic conditions that make it possible for the US and Wall Street to play a central role in international economic affairs when the US has the world's largest national debt, a gaping trade deficit, an ongoing capital account deficit, an exploding budget deficit, and personal savings hovering near zero. The story Westra tells of international economic depredation and humanity's stolen future is truly chilling. From its Wall Street command centre, and funded by Japan and China, the United States ensnares the world's states and people in a sinister, rigged, zero-sum game. This game, played for the narrowest of ends and to the benefit of an international cohort of uber-rich, traps humanity in a twilight zone of long decay, with its major players intent on preventing a more equitable international order from emerging from the detritus. We ignore the arguments of The Evil Axis of Finance at our peril.
Synopsis:
Why, despite the existence of raft of potential international investment outlets, is a major share of global wealth and savings impelled toward a United States (US) Wall Street-centered casino ? Why has an increasingly gaping chasm crystallized between ever bloating global financial activities and the real world economy of production and trade? How is it that wealthy governments' injecting trillions of dollars into stumbling financial sectors across the globe is failing to create one new decent job? This book connects the dots linking the 2008 meltdown--and over a decade of dress rehearsals for it--to a rigged global financial game that is unraveling the very foundations of modernity. This game cemented US international dominance even as it simultaneously attained the status of world's principal debtor economy. In a nutshell, the rigged global game under girding Axis power is that of dollar seigniorage. The US furnishes international money for the cost of running a printing press while the rest of the world produces goods and services, competing to push wages to the bottom to access those dollars. Select states, predominately Japan and China (though others as well), thenstore the surpluses they amass in dollar denominated savings. The US access to investment capital through little substantive economic effort, as it in fact incurs exponentially burgeoning debt, underpinned its seemingly out-of-this-world economic performance across the 1990s and early 21st century.The book deftly explores the set of momentous though largely unrecognized consequences for the global future which flow from this rigged game.
back to top


About the Author
Richard Westra 's teaching has taken him around the world including Queen's University and Royal Military College, Canada, the International Study Centre, in East Sussex, College of The Bahamas, Nassau and Pukyong National University, South Korea. He has been a Visiting Research Fellow at Focus on the Global South/Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute, Bangkok, Thailand. Currently he is Designated Associate Professor of Political Science, Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University, Japan. His work has been published in numerous international academic journals. He has authored and edited ten books including Political Economy and Globalization, Routledge, 2009 and Confronting Global Neoliberalism: Third World Resistance and Development Strategies, Clarity Press, 2010.

Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2294
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

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

Postby Rony » 26 Dec 2012 08:43

The Making of Modern Indian Diplomacy: A Critique of Eurocentrism

Diplomacy is conventionally understood as a European invention that gained international traction through the spread of colonialism. Consequently, scholars believe the moment of India's colonial liberation was in fact a false dawn, for the liberated, having internalized a European logic, mimicked Western practice. Postcolonial Indians are therefore anything but free.

Abandoning this Eurocentric model, Deep K. Datta-Ray investigates what actually happens inside a foreign ministry, based on unique participant observation within India's bureaucracy. His findings reveal practices deeply confounding to Western diplomats and academics, because they defy the parameters of known models. To explain these practices, Datta-Ray develops a framework for understanding the ideas within which Indian diplomacy operates. He traces the transformation of diplomacy from Mughal times to the present, outlining the concepts underpinning Indian foreign policy, which disclose abiding continuities within Indian diplomacy from the days of the Mahabharata to nuclear policy. In doing so, he not only challenges the received wisdom on diplomacy but also reframes common conceptions of the Indian state.



Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries

In its history since Independence, India has seen widely different economic experiments: from Jawharlal Nehru’s pragmatism to the rigid state socialism of Indira Gandhi to the brisk liberalization of the 1990s. So which strategy best addresses India’s, and by extension the world’s, greatest moral challenge: lifting a great number of extremely poor people out of poverty?

Bhagwati and Panagariya argue forcefully that only one strategy will help the poor to any significant effect: economic growth, led by markets overseen and encouraged by liberal state policies. Their radical message has huge consequences for economists, development NGOs and anti-poverty campaigners worldwide. There are vital lessons here not only for Southeast Asia, but for Africa, Eastern Europe, and anyone who cares that the effort to eradicate poverty is more than just good intentions. If you want it to work, you need growth. With all that implies.



Hinduism and the Ethics of Warfare in South Asia: From Antiquity to the Present

This book challenges the view, common among Western scholars, that precolonial India lacked a tradition of military philosophy. It traces the evolution of theories of warfare in India from the dawn of civilization, focusing on the debate between Dharmayuddha (Just War) and Kutayuddha (Unjust War) within Hindu philosophy. This debate centers around four questions: What is war? What justifies it? How should it be waged? And what are its potential repercussions? This body of literature provides evidence of the historical evolution of strategic thought in the Indian subcontinent that has heretofore been neglected by modern historians. Further, it provides a counterpoint to scholarship in political science that engages solely with Western theories in its analysis of independent India's philosophy of warfare. Ultimately, a better understanding of the legacy of ancient India's strategic theorizing will enable more accurate analysis of modern India's military and nuclear policies.

jamwal
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5095
Joined: 19 Feb 2008 21:28
Location: Somewhere Else
Contact:

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

Postby jamwal » 03 Jan 2013 21:27

Just finished reading R.I.P. The Resurgent Indian Patriots by Mukul Deva.
Image

Self appointed guardians of a nation seething with anger at the endless scams and scandals rocking its very foundation. Vigilantes who vow to stop corrupt politicians and colluding civil servants.
Even if it means killing them.

Colonel Krishna Athawale and his team of Special Forces officers rally to protect the country from the enemy within. They call themselves the K-Team. And no one is safe from their deadly intent.
Hellbent on stopping them is Raghav Bhagat, rogue para commando, gun for hire and Krishna’s
bête noir. Caught in the crossfire is Vinod Bedi, Special Director CBI. Reena Bhagat, a glamorous news anchor, embittered by her husband’s betrayal. And two young boys, Sachin and Azaan, torn apart by the loss of a parent.
It doesn’t get bigger.

sum
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9935
Joined: 08 May 2007 17:04
Location: (IT-vity && DRDO) nagar

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

Postby sum » 03 Jan 2013 23:25

^^ What was your opinion of the same, Jamwal-ji?

Was it like that piece of thrash, "Main hoo na" where dedicated and "patriotic" IA folks try to stop rogue ex-IA from disrupting bhaichaara between innocent TSP and Desh?

Hiten
BRFite
Posts: 1085
Joined: 21 Sep 2008 07:57
Location: Baudland
Contact:

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

Postby Hiten » 04 Jan 2013 09:58

"Modern equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci": Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha
http://www.aame.in/2013/01/equivalent-o ... -homi.html

....The book is titled 'A Masterful Spirit: Homi J Bhabha 1909-1966' and has been most wonderfully written by its two authors, Indira Chowdhury & Ananya Dasgupta. Dr. Bhabha is, arguably, one of the most widely recognised Scientists in India1. It was his initiative that lead to the setting up of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research [T.I.F.R.] in 1945, within whose classrooms & laboratories were sown the seeds of India's Nuclear programme, genesis of which could be traced, in some ways, even before the country became independent. Later, it was through his untiring efforts, and far-sighted vision, that he jumped right into the task of setting up the vast R&D & industrial infrastructure needed to do the job, recruiting & training the very best in the country. It is to his credit, that India in the 50s, with an amoebic Nuclear energy programme, bravely envisioned achieving complete energy security through a three-stage nuclear power programme where, in the third stage, India would be in a position to convert its vast reserves of fertile Thorium into fissile Uranium to fuel India's Nuclear reactors for generating electricity.

It certainly helped that he was a contemporary of Scientific luminaries like Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, John Cockroft, among many other who would later go on to win the Nobel Prize, with whom he had extensively interacted while studying & researching abroad, and could tap into this Old Boys' Club if the need arose. But most importantly he had the ears and unrestricted access to then Prime Minister of India Mr Jawaharlal Nehru, whose word, very few could countermand, if at all, in those days, in India. Thus, unhindered by the shackles imposed by hierarchy & bureaucracy, he could go about his job, as he deemed fit, much to the benefit of the nation.

The authors of this book have beautifully captured the essence of his persona, making effective use of rare photographs, interviews, letters & paintings, seamlessly weaving them into their engaging writing, helping create a vivid & arresting imagery, as one reads through its pages. Paintings, did I write? Yes, and therein lies the relevance of the comparison to Leonardo da Vinci, made by Sir C.V. Raman while speaking of Dr. Bhabha in 1941 at the Nagpur session of the Indian Academy of Science's Annual meeting. Not only was he a world-renowned Physicist with theories & phenomena named after him - Bhabha-Heitler Cascade theory & Bhabha scattering, he was also a violinist, who played at philharmonic concerts. While at Cambridge, he was the coxswain of its rowing team. He was also an acclaimed painter whose work had been exhibited at prestigious art shows worldwide. A polymath, just like da Vinci. We learn, that these multiple facets to his personality & ability, was something he had consciously cultivated and nurtured. In one of his letters reproduced in the book he writes,

"I know clearly what I want out of life. Life and my emotions are the only things I am concerned of. I love the consciousness of life and I want as much of it as I can get. But the span of one’s life is limited. Since, I cannot increase the content of life by increasing its duration, I will increase it by increasing its intensity. Art, music, poetry and everything else that I do have this one purpose - increasing the intensity of my consciousness of life."

While the book helps reiterate & reinforce admiration for the person, at no point does it transgress into deifying him. It is candid enough to throw light on conducts & intentions, one can genuinely attribute as "human". For example, the book argues that the real intention behind Dr. Bhabha conceiving T.I.F.R. was because, with World War II raging through Europe, he was unable to go back A-Masterful-Spirit-Homi-J-Bhabha-1909-1966to Cambridge. Although his association with the Indian Institute of Science [IISc] is well-chronicled, again because Sir CV Raman had taken a liking for Dr. Bhabha, he had a vision for a research institute that could not be put into practise at IISc, since it was, for all practical purposes Sir CV Raman's baby. Moreover, with the World War ending, the vast legion of European & American scientists, who were earlier working on military programmes would be returning back to Academic research and, hence, Indian Dr. Bhabha would have found it difficult to find a suitable position there. Therefore, he decided to setup an institute that would be built to his vision. He approached the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust to help finance it. However, arguing he needed their money to build an institute that would "reflect his vision" would not have passed muster with a business house, whose philanthropy marks the pinnacles of Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR] to this very day. Moreover, the Tata Trust, during those days of colonialism, had a policy of funding only those project that had either direct social or industrial benefits. Physics, a branch of pure Science, fails on both counts. Thus Dr. Bhabha, in consultation with his uncle, Sir Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, presented his idea in a manner that convinced the Trust that setting up T.I.F.R. would indeed serve a 'National Cause'. Whatever may have been his original intentions, as stated earlier, T.I.F.R. played a vital role in kick-starting serious research in the field of Nuclear-everything in India. Even today, it remains one of the leading institutes in the country in the field of pure Science.

In a way, on learning about these aspects of him, it reinforces the case for Dr. Bhabha as a role model. While one can not emulate God, considering him as a role-model would, therefore, amount to wrestling with intangibles & improbabilities, Dr. Bhabha, OTOH, is a symbol of how high a human can rise & achieve, provided one has conviction of belief and the will to persevere through the strongest of oppositions. A Karmayogi, par excellence.

His untimely death, in a plane crash in 1966, created a momentary vacuum in India's leadership for stewarding its Scientific & Strategic programmes, of which he was the helmsman. On his death, Professor Rustum Choksi, another individual who had great influence on Dr. Bhabha, said,

"On a sudden there is a gaping void, and men are left masterless, their sense of direction lost, their purposes reduced to nothingness; for in that whole world of atomic energy and fundamental research “presiding everywhere upon event was one man’s character”. The mood must change. To indulge in lamentation or feel that everything is over were poor tribute to his strong, confident, masterful spirit."

It is to his credit for institution building and nurturing talent, as opposed to developing a cult of personality, that he could have easily succumbed to, that capable replacements were found to play the roles that had earlier been his, though no single person was entrusted all the job, earlier carried out by him alone. The growth & development in India, especially in the field of Nuclear Energy, that we see today, owe its debt to the visionary Scientific mind, called Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha.

Must read - 'A Masterful Spirit: Homi J Bhabha 1909-1966'

jamwal
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5095
Joined: 19 Feb 2008 21:28
Location: Somewhere Else
Contact:

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

Postby jamwal » 05 Jan 2013 22:18

Sum sahib
It's based on events related to protests led by Anna Hazare. A fantasy on how vigilante justice should be meted out to the politicians and their cronies. He has just changed the names but Congress president, her son, a few prominent ministers, Anna Hazare etc , all make an appearance. Not as much gripping as his Salim Must Die series, but a time pass read. It'll cost less than Rs 200 depending upon where you buy, not a bad deal.
He has released another book Dust Will Never Settle , but I haven't started it yet.

SPOILER:

As hinted in the ad, good guy vigilantes are ex-army.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 53047
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

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

Postby ramana » 13 Jan 2013 02:36

Peter Gottschalk, "Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying Hinduism and Islam in British India"
English | ISBN: 0195393015 | 2012 | 448 pages |



Peter Gottschalk offers a compelling study of how, through the British implementation of scientific taxonomy in the subcontinent, Britons and Indians identified an inherent divide between mutually antagonistic religious communities.

England's ascent to power coincided with the rise of empirical science as an authoritative way of knowing not only the natural world, but the human one as well. The British scientific passion for classification, combined with the Christian impulse to differentiate people according to religion, led to a designation of Indians as either Hindu or Muslim according to rigidly defined criteria that paralleled classification in botanical and zoological taxonomies.

Through an historical and ethnographic study of the north Indian village of Chainpur, Gottschalk shows that the Britons' presumed categories did not necessarily reflect the Indians' concepts of their own identities, though many Indians came to embrace this scientism and gradually accepted the categories the British instituted through projects like the Census of India, the Archaeological Survey of India, and the India Museum. Today's propogators of Hindu-Muslim violence often cite scientistic formulations of difference that descend directly from the categories introduced by imperial Britain.

Religion, Science, and Empire will be a valuable resource to anyone interested in the colonial and postcolonial history of religion in India.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9664
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby abhishek_sharma » 16 Jan 2013 13:12

Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War

Image

This superb book is Kennedy’s best. He has crafted a lucid, original take on World War II that also offers insights on broader issues of strategy and war. His simple but striking proposition is that the Allied victory rested not only on the work of grand strategists in presidential cabinets and high military commands but also on the efforts of middle managers, such as the logisticians, engineers, and operational analysts who addressed the major obstacles to success: getting convoys across the Atlantic, coping with Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics, and sustaining a campaign over vast distances in the Pacific. With sound analysis of intelligence reports and a readiness to experiment with new methods and equipment, these managers made victory possible. Kennedy’s argument clarifies that it was not just bravery at the frontlines or superior productivity that gave the Allies an advantage over the Axis powers but also an organizational culture -- most evident in the United Kingdom, which was stretched the thinnest of the Allies -- that “contained impressive feedback loops, flexibility, a capacity to learn from mistakes,” and a willingness to encourage innovation and cross institutional boundaries.


The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe

Image

“Eastern Europe is special,” Shore writes in her opening lines. “It is Europe, only more so. It is a place where people live and die, only more so.” That sense of pathos shapes her highly intimate reflections on communism’s bitter residue for Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks. That residue has much to do with the lingering burden of choices made during the era of communist rule—hard choices that harmed others, for, as the Czech dissident Václav Havel wrote, “Everyone in his or her own way [was] both a victim and a supporter of the system.” By sharing the emotional fervor of her many, often deep personal relationships with eastern Europeans, formed during ten years of travel and research in the region, Shore gets at the agony and guilt felt by some and the sublimation resorted to by others. During her visits, she also managed on more than one occasion to meet and ruffle the feathers of those who had served the system loyally and without regrets. Shore, now on Yale’s history faculty, gives depth to this searching, personalized account by weaving into her story brief but deft and unobtrusive elements of historical context.


The Totalitarian Temptation

Image

One evening in June 1940, an excited crowd in Berlin awaited Adolf Hitler's arrival at the opera. The German army was scoring victory after victory in Europe at the time, and when the dictator finally entered the room, the audience greeted him with impassioned cries of "Sieg Heil!" "Heil Hitler!" and "Heil Fuehrer!" With the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact still in force, one of the attendees that night was Valentin Berezhkov, an interpreter for Stalin. "As I am watching all that," he recalled in his memoirs, "I am thinking to myself -- and the thought scares me -- how much there is in common between this and our congresses and conferences when Stalin makes his entry into the hall. The same thunderous, never-ending standing ovation. Almost the same hysterical shouts of 'Glory to Stalin!' 'Glory to our leader!'"

The parallels between communism and fascism have often been noted, fueling endless debates over whether the movements were fundamentally similar or different. The Devil in History, a new book by the political scientist Vladimir Tismaneanu, presents a genuinely fresh perspective on this topic, drawing enduring lessons from the last century's horrifying experiments with totalitarianism.

Instead of writing a historical treatise, Tismaneanu set out to produce "a political-philosophical interpretation of how maximalist utopian aspirations can lead to the nightmares of Soviet and Nazi camps epitomized by Kolyma and Auschwitz." Prompted by the author's personal intellectual journey, the book is an extended essay that examines the evolving interpretations of communism and fascism.

Tismaneanu touches on so many questions that he cannot possibly provide all the answers. But in doing so, he reinvigorates important debates about not only past ideologies but also present and future ones. The animus toward modern liberalism that he finds at the root of both earlier totalitarian move-ments has not disappeared, and the liberal world today should remain alert to its contemporary manifestations.


^^ full review is not free.

Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2294
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby Rony » 29 Jan 2013 07:39

What are they smoking with respect to Diggy raja ?

Against the Odds: Politicians, Institutions, and the Struggle Against Poverty

Most analyses of development and poverty alleviation focus on overall economic growth and the design of particular economic programs. In contrast, this book focuses on particular leaders who launched successful efforts to help the poorest (usually rural) members of their societies, drawing attention to the consummate political skills necessary to implement even well-conceived policies. In detailed case studies, the authors examine the records of three leaders: Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda since 1986; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the president of Brazil between 1995 and 2002; and Digvijay Singh, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, an Indian state of 60 million people, between 1993 and 2003. Although the details of their approaches differed, all three men had been committed to alleviating poverty before they won high office and, once in power, engaged the poor in political decision-making -- partly to learn what the poor most wanted and partly to increase the accountability of otherwise corrupt local politicians and government officials. All three also moved to the political center, stressed the importance of private investment, and put heavy emphasis on primary education for the poor.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 53047
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby ramana » 04 Feb 2013 02:12


Charles Murray, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010"

English | ISBN: 0307453421 | 2012 | 416 pages |

From the bestselling author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, this startling long-lens view shows how America is coming apart at the seams that historically have joined our classes.

In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.

Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.

The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.

The evidence in Coming Apart is about white America. Its message is about all of America.


svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby svinayak » 17 Feb 2013 11:39

Biography
"Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called, ""One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation,"" by best-selling author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University. Wise has spoken in 48 states, and on over 400 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, and the Law Schools at Yale and Columbia, and has spoken to community groups around the nation. Wise is the 2008 Oliver L. Brown Distinguished Visiting Scholar for Diversity Issues at Washburn University, in Topeka, Kansas: an honor named for the lead plaintiff in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. He is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. A collection of his essays, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male, was published in the Fall of 2008."

White Americans have long been comfortable in the assumption that they are the cultural norm. Now that notion is being challenged, as white people wrestle with what it means to be part of a fast-changing, truly multicultural nation. Facing chronic economic insecurity, a popular culture that reflects the nation's diverse cultural reality, a future in which they will no longer constitute the majority of the population, and with a black president in the White House, whites are growing anxious.

This anxiety has helped to create the Tea Party movement, with its call to "take our country back." By means of a racialized nostalgia for a mythological past, the Right is enlisting fearful whites into its campaign for reactionary social and economic policies.

In urgent response, Tim Wise has penned his most pointed and provocative work to date. Employing the form of direct personal address, he points a finger at whites' race-based self-delusion, explaining how such an agenda will only do harm to the nation's people, including most whites. In no uncertain terms, he argues that the hope for survival of American democracy lies in the embrace of our multicultural past, present and future.

*Tim Wise is currently on a 30+ city tour organized by his amazing speaker's bureau, Speak Out. If you would like to extend an invite to Tim to come to your campus or community, please contact them at info@speakoutnow.org (Bookstores seeking events should contact stacey@citylights.com)

Praise for Dear White America:

"Tim Wise has written another blockbuster! His new book, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, is a cogent analysis of the problems of race and inequality as well as a plea for those who harbor views about race and racism to modify and indeed eliminate them. While the book's title addresses white people, this is really a book for anyone who is concerned about eliminating the issue of racial disparity in our society. This is must read and a good read." -- Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He is the author of a number of books, including The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America

"Tim Wise is an American hero in the truest sense of the term -- he tells the truth, no matter how inconvenient that truth might be. Dear White America is a desperately needed response to the insidious mythology that pretends whites are oppressed and people of color unduly privileged. In the process, it exposes how new forms of racism have been deliberately embedded into our supposedly 'color blind' culture. Read this book -- but rest assured, it's not for the faint of heart." -- David Sirota, syndicated columnist, radio host, author of Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now

Praise for Tim Wise:

"Sparing neither family nor self . . . he considers how the deck has always been stacked in his and other white people's favor . . . his candor is invigorating." —Publishers Weekly

"One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation."—Michael Eric Dyson

Publisher City Lights Publishers
Format Paperback
Nb of pages 190 p.
ISBN-10 0872865215
ISBN-13 9780872865211


http://www.citylights.com/resources/dow ... erptCL.pdf

Note to Reader and First Pages from Dear White America
(PDF 291 KB)
Read the opening note to the reader and first pages from Tim Wise's personal letter concerning race in America

member_23629
BRFite
Posts: 676
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby member_23629 » 17 Feb 2013 11:50

In its history since Independence, India has seen widely different economic experiments: from Jawharlal Nehru’s pragmatism to the rigid state socialism of Indira Gandhi to the brisk liberalization of the 1990s.


What do these people smoke? What was the "pragmatism" Nehru showed in any sphere of life? Joker had his head in the clouds and was a woolly headed philosopher.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9664
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby abhishek_sharma » 20 Feb 2013 07:59

Image

Over the Horizon Proliferation Threats; Sanctions, Statecraft, and Nuclear Proliferation

Wirtz and Lavoy assembled top experts to consider which countries might go nuclear next. They do not dwell on the usual suspects but instead examine a number of unlikely prospects, such as Indonesia, Myanmar (also called Burma), Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, and some that were once believed to be on the verge but are no longer, such as Argentina and Brazil. Warning lights do not really flash in any of these cases, although the Middle Eastern and Asian examples do indicate the problems that could develop if the United States were perceived to be withdrawing from its established security commitments. Later chapters look at the policy options available for heading off proliferation. The 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty remains the centerpiece, but there are a variety of other means for warning would-be proliferators that they could struggle to realize their ambitions, and there are also positive inducements to persuade countries to forego nuclear arms.

Such efforts to coerce or cajole are the subject of Solingen’s collection. To what extent did the nuclear disarmament of Iraq and Libya depend on the pressure and practical consequences of economic sanctions? Why have Iran and North Korea not buckled under pressure? The analyses contained in the book are underpinned by considerable conceptual innovation and methodological rigor, leading to a number of sharp insights—but no firm conclusions. Solingen’s team makes the case for using both sticks and carrots but notes that positive incentives are harder to design. Moreover, for sticks and carrots to complement each other, what is required is not only a great deal of diplomatic choreography but also an understanding of their impact on the domestic politics of would-be proliferators.


Image

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

This compelling examination of the causes of World War I deserves to become the new standard one-volume account of that contentious subject. Clark, a history professor at Cambridge University, concedes the importance of basic structural causes, such as rigid alliance commitments; the temptations of preventive war on a rapidly growing, militarized continent; and the peculiarities of authoritarian decision-making. Yet he believes that such forces alone cannot explain the war and might just as likely have led to peace. He argues that war emerged from a complex conjunction of factors, each of which was far from inevitable and in many cases even improbable, often because it involved decision-makers who behaved less than fully rationally. They indulged in illusions of power, stereotypes about their enemies, and outmoded conceptions of sovereignty; they succumbed to the demands of transient domestic coalitions; and they misperceived their surroundings, sometimes for no good reason. In all of this, such leaders were sleepwalkers,generally unaware of the horrific consequences of the war they were about to unleash. This interpretation not only captures trends in modern historiography on the Great War but also highlights striking similarities with (and a few differences from) the decision-making in contemporary conflicts.


Image

Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today

Spy stories always fascinate, and Lucas has real ones to share. They center on the activities of a group of ten Russian spies in the United States whose discovery in 2010 created a media sensation. The tabloids were especially keen on Anna Chapman, a comely redhead who emerged as a pop-culture sex icon after she returned to Russia, along with the rest of the group, as part of a spy swap. Lucas also tells the more dramatic but less sensationalized tale of Herman Simm, an Estonian ex-policeman who later became the keeper of Estonia’s top military secrets—and a Russian agent, until he was arrested by Estonian authorities in 2008. Simm prospered less in his post-spying career than Chapman did; he was convicted of treason and wound up in a Tartu prison. Lucas plugs this material, together with an interesting chapter on contemporary spycraft, into a fevered portrait of Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a state thoroughly controlled by the successor agencies of the KGB, which are hell-bent on “rigging” the decision-making of U.S. and European policymakers, disrupting their alliances, and murdering the Russian regime’s opponents.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9664
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby abhishek_sharma » 20 Feb 2013 08:07

Image

Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms With the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Leveretts, former U.S. National Security Council staffers, argue that the Islamic Republic is a powerful, rational actor in the Middle East. In their view, it enjoys political legitimacy internally and is faithful to its constitution and accountable to its people. It is also the main impediment to the United States’ hegemonic dominance in the region. Iran’s nuclear program aims to force the United States to deal with it on an even footing. The Islamic Republic has sought a grand bargain but has been repeatedly rebuffed by Washington, which is intent on regime change. The Leveretts conclude that the United States needs a “Nixonian moment,” in which Washington would seek strategic accommodation with Tehran, as it did with Beijing. The argument has merit, but the authors overargue it, straining the reader’s credulity. To the Leveretts, the Iranian regime and its supreme leader are models of good political practice. They report unblinkingly that the establishment of the Islamic Republic was approved by 98 percent of voters in a 1979 referendum. They dismiss as groundless the allegations of fraud in Iran’s 2009 presidential election. They insist that Iran’s regional posture is purely defensive. Most telling, the Leveretts’ list of those who get Iran wrong, from neoconservatives to liberal internationalists, leaves out almost no one except themselves.


Image
Image
Brokers of Deceit; Pathways to Peace

In Khalidi’s view, the limits of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were established in 1978, when Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin laid down markers for the Camp David negotiations. Ever since then, the United States, although occasionally tempted to stray from these rules, has carefully adhered to them and sometimes argued for them even more strenuously than the Israelis. The rules forbid sharing control of Jerusalem, allowing the return of Palestinian refugees driven from their homes during the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967, and granting the Palestinians sovereignty over the occupied territories and their inhabitants. Khalidi argues that the Madrid conference of 1991, the Oslo process of the 1990s, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s peace initiative of 2009 were integral parts of a joint U.S.-Israeli strategy to buy time for the Israelis to expand their settlements in the West Bank and sever East Jerusalem from the Palestinian hinterland. Saudi Arabia could have anchored an Arab counterweight but has acquiesced to the status quo out of concern for its own security. Khalidi’s book is as despairing as it is short; he sees no way out.

Kurtzer’s collection tries valiantly to pierce Khalidi’s gloom. The contributors are mostly veterans of the peace process. They believe in the two-state solution as the least bad alternative to the status quo. They recognize that the odds are against such an outcome but argue that U.S. interests will suffer if the United States does not engage in the effort—at the level of the president, or at least the secretary of state, as Aaron David Miller argues in his essay. But the contributors do not agree on how to reach a viable two-state solution, and most important, they fail to identify how U.S. interests would be harmed by continuing business as usual. They do not address the one-state solution at all, not even to dismiss it. Consequently, one cannot suppress the image of a horse frolicking on a distant hill as these authors ponder an open barn door. Each contribution, however, is full of the wisdom of experience. Marwan Muasher, a former foreign minister of Jordan, emphasizes the need to seek a comprehensive settlement involving all of Israel’s Arab foes. Robert Malley, who served as a special assistant to U.S. President Bill Clinton, stresses that the Oslo process was too focused on solving the problems created by the 1967 Six-Day War, ignoring the deeper problems caused by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Samih Al-Abid and Samir Hileleh, experts on Palestinian economic development, suggest a possible reciprocal recognition, in which Israel would accept the Palestinians’ right of return and, in exchange, the Palestinians would acknowledge the Jewish nature of Israel. Needless to say, it is doubtful that any current Israeli, Palestinian, or American leaders would find this proposal persuasive.


Image

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958–1962

A growing scholarly literature has left no doubt that the greatest famine in history, with a death toll of around 36 million Chinese, was caused not by natural disasters but by excessive state levies ordered by Chairman Mao Zedong. But in China, these facts remain officially taboo. For Yang, a journalist and one-time believer in Mao’s utopian vision, discovering the truth was a personal quest. This long book is an abridgement of an even longer work in Chinese that Yang intended as a memorial for his father and other victims. He fills it with hundreds of names of victims that he discovered in local archives during years of travel and research and with the stories of how they died. His painful account reveals the cruelties ordinary people are capable of when they are pitted against one another for survival. Yang discovers that among famished Chinese in extremis, cannibalism was more widespread than previously known. He also demonstrates Mao’s direct responsibility for the disaster; the slavish refusal of Mao’s chief aide, Zhou Enlai, to challenge Mao; and the complicity of local officials who launched misconceived construction projects that exacerbated the grain shortage by taking peasants away from farm work.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9664
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby abhishek_sharma » 21 Apr 2013 21:40

‘A Little Feu de Joie’: Adam Shatz

Days of God: The Revolution in Iran and Its Consequences by James Buchan

nawabs
BRFite
Posts: 1637
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby nawabs » 22 Apr 2013 10:30

Handbook of Hindu Economics and Business

English ~ ISBN 148398088X ~ 646 Pages

Authored by Prof Hrishikesh D Vinod

The innovative Handbook offers 23 state-of-the-art peer-reviewed essays by leading international authorities summarizing evidence-based research on ancient and modern India. For example, Kautilya’s Economics text published some 2000 years before Adam Smith is shown to include ideas in Marx’s Labor Theory of Value, UN’s Human Rights, optimization, etc. Hindu India topics include: beef eating, astrology, rituals, sacraments, pilgrimages, guilt-free pursuit of wealth and pleasures, caste system’s huge costs and benefits in nurturing entrepreneurship, charity, Hindu Law, gender issues, overpopulation problem, yoga for business management and human capital growth. The scholarly essays provide a unique reference work for students, teachers, businessmen, India investors and general readers.

Michael Szenberg, editor of The American Economist wrote: “Hindu Economics and Business Handbook is an engaging and informative survey of the economics of Hinduism. I highly recommend it.

Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University said “… interesting collection … will be widely read”

Prof. Panchamukhi, Former Chairman, Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi and editor of Indian Journal of Economics wrote:
“.. systematically arranged into different themes and chapters …Protection and prosperity, Importance of animals, Four-fold Objectives of Life, Hindu Social Corporate form, Ayurvedic Medicines, Impact of Rituals, (etc.)…perceptive articles on the recent thoughts on development and governance …extremely valuable reading material…the most useful addition to the literature”

Prof. Rishi Raj of CCNY, president of SIAA, wrote:
“…many methods and strategies ..(by).. Hindu economists are desperately needed to help solve the present day world economic crisis.”

Narain Kataria, President of Indian American Intellectual Forum wrote: “…review of contrasting viewpoints… This unique reference work edited by Prof. Vinod belongs not only in every public library, but also in the home of everyone interested in India, including non-Hindus and international investors.”

List of distinguished authors includes the likes of: (1) former Harvard professor and president of Janata Party, Subramanian Swamy, (2) Suresh Tendulkar, Chair, Indian Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, (3) Shankar Abhyankar, founder of Aditya Pratishthan, (4) Anil Bokil, founder of ArthaKranti Pratishthan, (5) Prof. R. Vaidyanathan, IIM Banglore, (6) Balbir Sihag of U. Mass. (7) M.G. Prasad of Stevens Tech. (8) M. V. Patwardhan former Fellow Institute of Bankers, London, (9) Gautam Naresh, formerly at the National Institute of Public Finance, (10) M. V. Nadkarni, founder of Journal of Social and Economic Development, (11) Prof. R. Kulkarni, IIT Bombay, (12) K. Kulkarni, editor of the Indian Journal of Economics and Business, (13) Prof. S. Kaushik, Pace University, NY, Founder of Women’s College in India, (14) H. Mhaskar, von Neumann distinguished professor, Technical University, Munich, Germany, (15) Vasant Lad, founder of Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, NM, (16) Yogi S. Vinod, founder MVRF, Pune, (17) S. Kalyanaraman, Director, Sarasvati Research Centre, Chennai, (18) M. and P. Joshi, founders of Gurukul Yoga Center, NJ, (19) Advocate S. Deshmukh, and (20) Advocate C. Vaidya, among others.

Mukesh.Kumar
BRFite
Posts: 1015
Joined: 06 Dec 2009 14:09

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby Mukesh.Kumar » 23 Apr 2013 01:24

Considering the churn in the Middle East, a short suggested reading list for those looking for a perspective of why the Arab world is this way.

A great book if you are interested in the Arab World, especially on the evolution of Saudi Arabia, British and French efforts in MENA and the history of the Ottoman Empire.

The Arabs: A History-Eugene Rogan

A slightly different take (and a shorter read): A History of the Middle East-Peter Mansfield.

Would also recommend rereading O Jerusalem-Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre

An interesting exercise to read the same story from different angles. From Lapierre's pro-Israel tilt to the more balanced view in the other books. Would request forum members to suggest other sources too (especially about Easter Africa and the region's interaction with these areas (till now my reading has been to the fictionalized editions of Wilbur Smith :oops: )

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9664
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby abhishek_sharma » 24 Apr 2013 06:35

Two Books on Terror in Mao's China and Stalin's Russia

Image
Image

If anyone needs a reminder of the inscrutability and mercilessness of the Stalin and Mao regimes, these books can help. Hu Feng was a distinguished Marxist literary critic whom Mao made a prime target of a major campaign to intimidate independent thinkers in the early years of the Chinese communist regime. Hu spent 24 years in various forms of imprisonment. For much of the time, he was accompanied by his wife, Mei Zhi—an unusual privilege probably attributable to Hu’s age and fragile health. In her memoir, she recounts their experiences. Hu was constantly pressured to “reform his worldview” to match the new political campaigns Mao launched. As the couple’s situation became more and more hopeless, Hu stopped insisting on his innocence and lost his sanity. He outlived Mao but passed away a few years after his release from prison, at the age of 82.

Sin-Lin tells the Tolstoyan tale of her struggle to understand her parents, who continued to love each other despite their forced separation, remarriage to other spouses, and political estrangement. They were young Chinese revolutionaries studying in Moscow when Sin-Lin was born. She grew up in a Communist Party boarding school in the Soviet Union and traveled to her parents’ homeland for the first time only as a teenager, several years after her mother had gone back but before her father, who spent years in Stalin’s gulag before returning to China. The way the Chinese regime abused both of her parents after they came back showed the party’s insecurity about anyone whose loyalties might be divided, even though it was the party that had sent her parents to the Soviet Union to study in the first place. The book includes documents that Sin-Lin gathered much later from Soviet archives about a few of the many Chinese revolutionaries who disappeared into Stalin’s gulag as a result of paranoid power struggles within the communist movement.


War, Guilt, and World Politics After World War II

Image

For over half a century, Germany and Japan have struggled to put World War II behind them. Berger has produced one of the most sophisticated and sensitive treatments yet about how these two countries have contended with their troubled histories. Germany, with perhaps the most horrific legacy of state-sponsored brutality, has made many public expressions of remorse and contrition, adopting a relentlessly negative official narrative of its own past. Japan, in contrast, has tended to see itself as a victim as much as a victimizer. Berger shows that Japanese leaders have in fact acknowledged responsibility for the atrocities the country’s forces committed in the past and have tried to make amends. The trouble is that government apologies and admissions of responsibility are interpreted differently by different audiences. The book’s message to Japanese leaders is that for symbolic acts of reconciliation to succeed, they must simultaneously address the fears and grievances of Japan’s neighbors and undercut nationalist movements at home.


On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future

Image

This book, by a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, is deeply pessimistic about the future of the Saudi kingdom. A coming generational shift in the monarchy—from a son of the dynasty’s founder to one of his grandsons—might lay bare the structural fissures of Saudi society. These consist of a youth bulge (60 percent of Saudis are under the age of 20), a myopic and conservative leadership, the outsourcing of some economic and social policies to religious reactionaries, and the elite’s willful ignorance of the significant sector of Saudi society that lives in poverty. House anticipates an explosion of some sort: she wagers that if one occurs, it will have been young people and women who lit the fuse. But it is hard to reconcile the vision of a polity bursting at its seams with House’s emphasis on the inveterate passivity, somnolence, and conformity of “average” Saudis. In extensive interviews, she does reveal broad-based grievances. But it is not clear that compared with past frustrations, these feelings are any less susceptible to appeasement by the state’s habitual doling out of generous financial rewards to its citizens.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 53047
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby ramana » 03 May 2013 18:59

Richard A. Posner, "Remaking Domestic Intelligence"
Publisher: Hoover Institution Press | ISBN: 0817946810 | 2011 | 141 pages |

A new solution for reforming U.S. domestic intelligence Domestic intelligence in the United States today is undermanned, uncoordinated, technologically challenged, and dominated by an agency—the FBI—that is structurally unsuited to play the central role in national security intelligence. Despite its importance to national security, it is the weakest link in the U.S. intelligence system. In Remaking Domestic Intelligence, Richard A. Posner reveals all the dangerous weaknesses undermining our domestic intelligence in the United States and offers a new solution: a domestic intelligence agency modeled on the concept and basic design of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. He details why the FBI, because its primary activity is law enforcement, is not the solution to the problem of domestic intelligence and how a new agency, lodged in the Department of Homeland Security, would have no authority to engage in law enforcement and thus avoid the deep tension between criminal investigation and national security intelligence that plagues the FBI. He also shows how a new U.S. domestic intelligence agency might offer additional advantages over our current structure even in terms of civil liberties.


Police origin counter intelligence organizations work only in monarchies where the prime job is to protect the dynasty.

a complex wrold needs better solutions.


svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby svinayak » 07 May 2013 05:53

The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New
Peter Watson (Author)




Peter Watson, the acclaimed author of Ideas and The German Genius, offers a groundbreaking new exploration of the progress of human history. Watson’s The Great Divide compares and contrasts the development of humankind between the “Old World” and the “New”—between 15,000 B.C. and 1,500 A.D—and, like Jarod Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, Watson’s remarkable book offers a fascinating, all-encompassing, highly readable overview of how human civilization has grown and expanded. Combining the most up-to-date findings in archaeology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, cosmology and mythology, this unprecedented, masterful study offers uniquely revealing insights into what it means to be human.

The past, Peter Watson argues in this magnificent history of sixteen and a half millenia, is a whole series of foreign countries - and explaining the differences between them helps accounts for just about everything we take for granted in the here and now...Impossible, of course, to summarise this massive book in a small review. Sufficient, perhaps, to say that the year's first necessary read is here. -- Christopher Bray WORD MAGAZINE In drawing together evidence from complex strands of archaeology, climatology, genetics and religious symbolism, Watson is compulsively speculative. -- Peter Forbes THE INDEPENDENT Synthesizers like Watson play a valuable role in disseminating and linking up specialist research findings -- Peter Coates TLS 20120608 An ingenious work about the course of human history...The author seems to know everything about his subject and to hold an opinion on every issue, which he enthusiastically passes on...fascinating KIRKUS REVIEWS --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Exploring the development of humankindbetween the Old World and the New—from15,000 BC to AD 1500—the acclaimed authorof Ideas and The German Genius offers agroundbreaking new understandingof human history.

Why did Asia and Europe develop far earlierthan the Americas? What were thefactors that accelerated—or impeded—development? How did the experiences of OldWorld inhabitants differ from their New Worldcounterparts—and what factors influenced thosedifferences?

In this fascinating and erudite history, PeterWatson ponders these questions central to thehuman story. By 15,000 BC, humans had migratedfrom northeastern Asia across the frozen Beringland bridge to the Americas. When the worldwarmed up and the last Ice Age came to an end,the Bering Strait refilled with water, dividingAmerica from Eurasia. This division—with twogreat populations on Earth, each unaware of theother—continued until Christopher Columbusvoyaged to the New World in the fifteenth century.

The Great Divide compares the developmentof humankind in the Old World and the Newbetween 15,000 BC and AD 1500. Watson identifiesthree major differences between the twoworlds—climate, domesticable mammals, andhallucinogenic plants—that combined to producevery different trajectories of civilization in thetwo hemispheres. Combining the most up-to-dateknowledge in archaeology, anthropology, geology,meteorology, cosmology, and mythology, thisunprecedented, masterful study offers uniquelyrevealing insight into what it means to be human.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 53047
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby ramana » 16 May 2013 04:33

Homer's Turk

Author : Jerry Toner

Publisher : Harvard University Press, $29.95



In Jerry Toner's Homer’s Turk, the voice of the East is largely missing. Because of this shortcoming, says ASHOK VOHRA, the theories in the book are Eurocentric

Every new traveller to an unfamiliar land and its people is baffled not so much by its flora and fauna, climate and other geographical novelties, as by the difficulty in understanding the prevalent social, political and religious practices, customs, culture, traditions and food habits of the habitants. The difficulty becomes more acute when the land and the people are completely alien to the visitor’s culture. With the passage of time he is able to understand, at least superficially, these new practices and becomes familiar with them.

After a considerable time of interaction with the natives and extensive observations of the pattern of their behaviour, the visitor grasps the import of their practices. He finds some family resemblances between the practices of his own customs, culture and tradition, and the ones which he comes across in the unknown land. Still he finds it arduous to express his experiences and observations in a language which would convey to his people back home the true nature, content and extent of the unfamiliar experiences, traditions, and social, political and religious practices of the aliens.

Jerry Toner, in his book Homer’s Turk, argues that Western classics have played a “pivotal role” in understanding and communicating the ingredients, nuances and subtleties of the new civilisation. He argues, “When faced with new world, it has often been to the old world that they (Europeans) have turned to help them understand such novelty”. These Greek and Roman classics, according to him, “provided models and exemplars... a repertoire of rhetorical styles, imagery, comparisons, tropes and representative figures” to enable the travellers to come to grips with the new civilisations and religions. He supports his argument with the travelogues written by several Europeans travellers and historians from Jacobean to modern Hollywood blockbusters, from the Augustan to the post-modern.

The author has based his thesis on the assumption that classical references provide to the traveller “the space to form a more detached, more sympathetic view” of the newly encountered civilisation. “Classics”, according to him, “represented civilisation and itself was believed to hold civilising powers”. As a consequence, he upholds that the classics “acted as a prism through which writers saw the object of their study, one that refracted the images they saw”. It was because of these powers of the classics that the travellers used them as mediations to translate “the East into familiar past in order to familiarise their audience back home”.

The Western authors believed that the classics are the repositories of eternal truths and used the classic texts for three purposes. The first was to preserve “political conservativism”. The second was “to push the claims of reform and revolution”. Finally, the third was to serve “anthropological” purposes — to provide “models of objective history” which, in turn, helped in developing a “heretical framework for interpreting the religious other”.

Homer’s Turk, as Toner agrees, is “a book about English images”. The voice of the Easterners, therefore, is “largely absent”. Because of this shortcoming, the theories in it are one-sided. They are Eurocentric. For example, most of the writings referred to in it conclude that the Orient is “childlike, juvenile and irrational” and that “the Asiatics are born to be slaves”. They view “Europe as a sovereign princess and Asia as her handmaid”. Consequently, it is the task of the English to teach “it about liberty, freedom and democracy”. Too much reliance on the reference to the classics and treating them as final authority only helps in propagating the stereotypes of the orient and interpreting the foreign otherness in irreverent tones.

For instance, too much dependence on the classics led some readers to see the “East as exotic and dangerous as a place of alluring sexuality”. The ancient perceptions of the East led many to believe it as “the place of loose sexual morality, the idea being that the physical heat of the place must result in human beings of certain sexual proclivities”. Even with respect to the literature, the classics — some of which are as old as Alexander — claim that European talents are far superior to the Asian talents. :rotfl:

Likewise, the accounts of Indian culture and civilisation in the classics are far from true. They contain descriptions which allege that there are some Indian “men that sleep in their ears”, or “men are without ears”; and, that there are “ants that mine gold” in India. The descriptions also contain libellous accounts as the inhabitants of India “have intercourse with the women in the open and... eat the bodies of their kinsmen”. Besides narrating that it is a land where “tough sophists stand on one leg and hold logs over their heads”, they also claim that it is a land “of flowing milk and olive oil” and that its “people lived to be over four hundred years old but stayed young and beautiful and had no disease”.

European classical literature upholds that Indian culture is “static and unchanging” and has no sense of history and, therefore, of progress. It maintains, “Hindus, at the time of Alexander’s invasion, were in a state of manners, society and knowledge, exactly the same with that in which they were discovered by the nations of modern Europe”. Nothing could be more misleading. This kind of misconception about Indian culture, values, traditions and literature led philosopher-historians like JS Mill to conclude that Indian history “begins with the arrival of the British”. The British, according to such historians, were needed by India “to lead it out of the perpetual standstill in which it was trapped”. Nothing can be farther than the truth then such inferences.


These travellers because of the influence of the Western classics not only upheld that as compared to the advanced West the Orient enjoys only primitive existence. Regarding “the locals as uncivilised cowards”, they also saw “the Orient as having had nothing but a decivilising influence on the West” and “the Orientals as ‘antipathetical’ to an Englishman”. They believed that an ‘East Indian’ is worst of all the Orientals.

The depiction of the Orient in the Hollywood blockbusters shows that even in the present day the West has not been able to shed the classic image of the Orient. In almost all the flicks, “the Orient is shown as a hackneyed backdrop — an ossified society where nothing changes, peopled by caricatures addicted to exoticism, eroticism and decadence, fit only to be oppressed by sadistic despots”.

One may not agree with the author’s interpretation of the concept of ‘classic’ as a ‘plastic concept’, or the conclusions drawn in the book. However, one has to admit that the book is well-researched, readable and accessible.

The reviewer is Professor of Philosophy, University of Delhi


RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby RajeshA » 26 May 2013 22:46

Online Books

Image

The Bible Unearthed. Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts [Download] [Amazon]
Authors: Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman
Publication Date: May 28, 2002

Rampy
BRFite
Posts: 269
Joined: 25 Mar 2003 12:31
Contact:

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby Rampy » 28 May 2013 21:06

I am reading Amish's books Mulehan, Naga and Promise of Vayuputras. I am smewhat confused, is it a work of Finction using actual names or is it non-fiction and Amish has books that can prove his point of view on Shiva/Rudra and NAgas etc.

BajKhedawal
BRFite
Posts: 1160
Joined: 07 Dec 2008 10:08
Location: Is it ethical? No! Is it Pakistani? Yes!

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

Postby BajKhedawal » 31 May 2013 07:11

jamwal wrote:Just finished reading R.I.P. The Resurgent Indian Patriots by Mukul Deva.

Image

Hey Jamwal,

Are Deva's book chronologically related? or can I read them in any order?

Thanks,
Baj.K

Brad Goodman
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2368
Joined: 01 Apr 2010 17:00

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby Brad Goodman » 04 Jun 2013 03:11

Can some one please post a pdf link for Shri Narsimha Rao's book "The Insider"

jamwal
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5095
Joined: 19 Feb 2008 21:28
Location: Somewhere Else
Contact:

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby jamwal » 04 Jun 2013 23:46

Books after Lashkar series, Dust Will Never Settle and RIP can be read in any order. They are not related.

Image

The Dust Will Never Settle
When terror strikes Jerusalem again, the international community persuades the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume their long-stalled peace talks. A dozen negotiators converge on Delhi to try and wrest peace for a land torn apart by centuries of strife and mistrust.

Lashkar-e-Toiba, struggling to fill the leadership void created by the killing of Osama bin Laden, will not allow these talks to proceed. Enter Ruby Gill, an MI6 agent manipulated by the Lashkar and the Qassam Brigades to disrupt the summit.

Caught in the crossfire is her father Ravinder Singh Gill, head of the Indian Anti-Terrorist Task Force, who is in charge of securing the Peace Summit. His work is immensely complicated by the Commonwealth Games being hosted simultaneously in Delhi.

No one could have foreseen how explosively Ravinders past and Ruby's destiny would collide.

Will peace finally find these strife-torn countries? Or will the dust never settle in the Promised Land? In this pacy fusion of fact and fiction by Indias literary stormtrooper Mukul Deva, the private tragedy of the Gill family unravels against a high-stakes backdrop of international politics and deadly intrigue.


These two books have been a bit of let down for me after the Lashkar series.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 53047
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013

Postby ramana » 07 Jun 2013 06:54

Spartacus

Author: Aldo Schiavone

Publisher: Harvard University Press, $19.95


The book by Aldo Schiavone, a noted Italian historian, places Spartacus and the slave revolt he led in the context of the prevalent agrarian economy and political thinking of the early Roman Empire, writes Gautam Mukherjee

Real people who become legendary do end up living forever. Spartacus, who led a revolt of gladiators and slaves against the might of Rome in the first century BCE, is one such. Several movies have been made on him over the years. And most recently, a rip-roaring sword and sandals TV series that ran into three highly popular seasons. And this latter, though highly commercialised, did cover the historical ground quite diligently, as this book by Aldo Schiavone reveals.

Spartacus by Aldo Schiavone, a noted Italian historian, places the man and the slave revolt he led in the context of the economy and political thinking of the early Roman Empire. It was an economy, largely agrarian, skewed to serve a patrician elite, and some Roman plebians, that would not have been sustainable without slave labour.

The free men, the Romans, patricians and plebians alike, had to be mainly soldiers, invested with the duty to conquer, expand, consolidate and sustain the Roman Empire. They were few, the slaves were many, hence the need for an iron fist. And so, the revolts, not just of Spartacus and his followers, but several other eruptions unconnected with his, were a threat to the very existence of Rome.

But fortunately for the Romans, almost all the revolts had no game plan beyond the first flush of rebellion. In Spartacus’s case, he had some experience of governance as he was once a Thracian mercenary and then a Roman soldier before being sold into slavery and becoming a gladiator at Capua.

Because of his Roman military training and his natural gifts as a strategist and tactician, Spartacus managed to keep his variegated flock together and focussed for much longer than usual. But his followers, even those with gladiatorial experience, were not much good for essential unity or administration. They were also disparate in origin, with differing personal aspirations on what to do with their hard won freedom.

Nevertheless, Spartacus and his band of rebels won a number of military victories in the early stages when Rome did not take his insurrection very seriously. But eventually, Rome sent its richest man Crassus, with 50,000 battle-hardened Roman soldiers after them. The Roman Senate also directed Pompey, returning from a victorious campaign in Etruria, to help Crassus. The end of the slave revolt thereafter, was inevitable.

The Romans were disciplined, organised and motivated to defend their republic and way of life. This, along with an attitude and belief in arch-militarism as the route to power, glory and riches, animated their worldview. So conquest, plunder and dominion were an economic necessity. But consolidation and viability thereafter necessitated the acquisition of defeated peoples as slaves. Slaves, to be put to work for the sustenance of Rome.

Today it may seem that Spartacus and others of his ilk were early martyrs to the ideal of democracy, equality, liberty, natural justice and so forth, but in imperialist Roman times, revolting slaves were subversives to be captured and killed. But the slaves who revolted were themselves not very clear as to what they wanted to do with their freedom. They had no ideology or bigger purpose. They did not want to form their own independent country. This divisiveness among slaves always worked to the benefit of the enslaving order.

The slave labour-based economic model, not just in Rome but throughout the various European empires that followed it, and even in slave-keeping America, believed that slaves were property much more than they were human beings, which was an incidental in that entire scheme of things. And the fact that as an “unfair” way to organise society, it persisted for so many centuries under diverse stewardship, only goes to show how times have changed. The major difference today is, of course, the effect of an industrial age that ended up empowering labour of both genders. And the technological revolution, the mechanisation that grew alongside, democratised and gave a modicum of dignity to the labouring classes.

Back in the lifetime of Spartacus though, he walked along the fault lines of both the individual aspiration cruelly suppressed, and the tensions caused by an expansionist military empire. The last element of that evolutionary system was the limitations of a republic. As it was constructed then, it was ideal for a city state, where the people could all assemble in the city square, but not an empire stretching over vast geographies and peoples.

The attempt to run things better as the time went on, took the shape of a dictatorial triumvirate soon after Spartacus’s death; then a Caesar all powerful; and later, a far flung autocracy.


And this shared imperial power, under an Emperor, a Caesar, with his largely advisory Senate, did keep the Roman Empire going for centuries. When it ended in the West at Rome, it lived on in the East from Constantinople for several centuries more before finally giving way to the Ottomans.




Return to “Strategic Issues & International Relations Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 23 guests