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

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 08:06
by paramu
Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World
Adam LeBor (Author)

Hardcover: 360 pages
Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (May 28, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161039254X
ISBN-13: 978-1610392549
Tower of Basel, a investigative history of the Bank for International Settlements, the world's most secretive and influential financial institution, is published in the US and Britain

Tower of Basel is the first investigative history of the world’s most secretive global financial institution. Based on extensive archival research in Switzerland, Britain, and the United States, and in-depth interviews with key decision-makers—including Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England; and former senior Bank for International Settlements managers and officials—Tower of Basel tells the inside story of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS): the central bankers’ own bank.

Created by the governors of the Bank of England and the Reichsbank in 1930, and protected by an international treaty, the BIS and its assets are legally beyond the reach of any government or jurisdiction. The bank is untouchable. Swiss authorities have no jurisdiction over the bank or its premises. The BIS has just 140 customers but made tax-free profits of $1.17 billion in 2011–2012.

Since its creation, the bank has been at the heart of global events but has often gone unnoticed. Under Thomas McKittrick, the bank’s American president from 1940–1946, the BIS was open for business throughout the Second World War. The BIS accepted looted Nazi gold, conducted foreign exchange deals for the Reichsbank, and was used by both the Allies and the Axis powers as a secret contact point to keep the channels of international finance open.

After 1945 the BIS—still behind the scenes—for decades provided the necessary technical and administrative support for the trans-European currency project, from the first attempts to harmonize exchange rates in the late 1940s to the launch of the Euro in 2002. It now stands at the center of efforts to build a new global financial and regulatory architecture, once again proving that it has the power to shape the financial rules of our world. Yet despite its pivotal role in the financial and political history of the last century and during the economic current crisis, the BIS has remained largely unknown—until now.

Not only is this Secret Bank exempt from the taxes and oversight of any nation in the world, but also has been that way since it was founded in 1930. This is the inside story of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) which is based in Basel Switzerland but does not answer to Swiss authorities or anyone else. It is the world's Central Bankers own bank.

Learning about this super secret Super Bank will add much credence to the conspiracy theory of the bankers trying to create a New World Order. It's like a shadow world government that is so powerful and useful that no nation in the world is willing to try and control or shine the spot light into its dark recesses.

The world's most exclusive and powerful club has only eighteen members most of whom are men. The power and influence they exercise is almost unbelievable. It is said the Nazi's didn't invade Switzerland because they didn't want to cut off their access to this institution, which is where they shipped much of the wealth they striped from the nations they invaded.

The book contains an introduction and sixteen information packed chapters contained in three major sections. Those chapters are titled "The Bankers Know Best, A Cozy Club in Basel, Hitler's American Banker, An Arrangement with the Enemy, The German Phoenix Arises, The Rise of the Desk-Murders, The Tower Arises, The Second Tower, The All-Seeing Eye, (despite the familiar sounding names this is not "Lord of the Rings") and the Citadel Cracks."

"The Tower of Basel reaches only eighteen stories above the city skyline, but the fate of the biblical tower-builders should give the bankers pause. For When God saw their work, he confounded their speech and introduced a multitude of tongues. The builders could no longer understand one another. The construction work stopped, they were dispersed and their town vanished into history."

The bank is fighting for its survival by trying to evolve into a socially responsible institution. "Secrecy, opacity, and unaccountability--like gold--are embedded in the bank' DNA. The bank may find it can't continue as it has since its birth.

This in a wonderful investigative report on one of the most secret and powerful institutions in world history. A reader doesn't have to like economics or banking to be mesmerized by this highly readable expose.

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

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 04:38
by ramana
Pioneer Book Review: ... myths.html

Rama and Ayodhya

Author: Meenakshi Jain

Publisher: Aryan Books, Rs 695

Meenakshi Jain’s book challenges the lordship of India’s ‘eminent' historians who indulge in the worst form of negationism to forward their pseudo-secular viewpoints, writes Rohit Srivastava

"Before LK Advani converted an Indian icon into a Hindu deity as he flexed his nationalist muscles astride a makeshift chariot, he was on his way to the destruction of an unused 16th century mosque in Ayodhya to reclaim the mythical glory of his Mother India.” Thus wrote Jawed Naqvi, India correspondent of Dawn, Pakistan, in an article on humour in religious discourse. The Indian icon in question is Rama, the most popular incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the most beloved deity for at least two millennia.

Naqvi would have us believe that Advani’s rath yatra made Rama a deity. He cannot see the hollowness of his claim, for if Rama in his own view was already an Indian icon (a symbol of reverence and devotion), it means he was already a deity.

Naqvi, like others, is in the business of negating and mocking the civilisational memory associated with Rama, and believes his minority status confers upon him the privilege to do so with impunity. Yet, he would not dare satisfy non-monotheistic curiosity on a fundamental confusion of Abrahamic dogma: Did the patriarch Abraham offer his son Ismail in sacrifice to God, or was it his son Isaac? Christians and Muslims both accept the historicity of the event and agree only one child was offered. Which one?

Over the past two decades, several Left-wing historians have indulged in high-voltage propaganda that Rama was not a deity before Tulsidas wrote Ramcharit Manas in the 16th century. The purpose, of course, is to discredit the movement for reclamation of his birthplace. For if there is no proof of Rama and his Ayodhya, the movement falls into disrepute.

Historian Meenakshi Jain has given a robust reply to those who question the historicity of Rama as deity, and provided ample historical proof of Ayodhya as the city of Rama. Activists may question the memory of a civilisation with superficial and politically-motivated arguments, but the book, Rama and Ayodhya, has demolished their case.

Jain leaves no stone unturned in collating all historical and literary evidence relating to Lord Rama. She has covered a vast corpus of literature from the eighth century onwards. The Pratihara dynasty, which ruled western and central India from the ninth to the 13th century, claimed descent from Lakshman, younger brother of Rama, and considered themselves defenders of India from mlechha (barbarian) invaders, and were proud of their victory over them. For four centuries they gave an intrepid fight to invaders.

The book covers the popularity of Rama in antiquity in three long chapters, citing evidence from literature, sculpture and epigraphy. The author has compiled her evidence State-wise to conclusively prove Rama’s pan-national popularity throughout antiquity. The question of his becoming a deity only after the publication of Ramcharit Manas in the era of the Mughal emperor Akbar, has been answered with ample evidence to discourage even the most arrogant Leftist historian from repeating old lies again.

Some notable references include Varahamihira’s Brhatsamhita (sixth century AD) which formulates rules for making images of Rama. The Rama story finds mention in three early Buddhist texts, Dasharatha Kathanam (first-second century AD), Anamakam Jatakam and Dasharatha Jataka. The great poet-dramatist, Bhavabhuti (eighth century), a native of Vidarbha, wrote two dramas based on the Ramayan — the Mahaviracharita and the Uttararamacharity; the latter contained the earliest verbatim quotations of verses from theRamayan, according to Jacobi.

A Gupta period stone panel from Mathura shows Ravan shaking Mount Kailasa, a scene from the ‘Uttara Kanda’. A Gupta period brick temple at Bhitargaon, Kanpur (fifth century AD), has several terracotta panels, one of which depicts Rama and Lakshman seated and engaged in conversation.

M Zaheer, in his book on the Bhitargaon temple, mentions two terracotta reliefs showing scenes from the Ramayana: One has a woman offering alms to a giant man, clearly Ravan in disguise, while the other depicts a seated Rama and Sita.

The Rama cult was promoted by Madhavacharya Anandatirtha (variously placed between AD 1199-1278 and 1238-1317). He devoted seven chapters to the Ramayana story in the Mahabharat-tatparya-nirnaya and brought an image of the “world-conquering” Digvijaya Rama to the south. Similarly, Narahari Tirtha, probably the same as Narasimha, is recorded in a Telugu epigraph dated AD 1293, as having set up the image of Rama, Sita and Lakshman in the Vaishnava temple near Chicacole, Ganjam district.

The Vayu Purana and the ‘Uttara Kanda’ mentioned two Kosalas, with Shravasti the capital of Uttara Kosala and Kausavati of Dakshin Kosala or Mahakosala. The two Kosalas were once believed to have been under the suzerainty of Rama, who installed his son Lava in North Kosala and Kusa in South Kosala.

The book is additionally important for the detailed analysis of the Allahabad High Court ruling on the Babri Masjid case. The motives and scholarship of many of our famed historians are hilariously exposed during the court proceedings. The book shows how an exclusive club of historians (Leftists, of course) have been making false claims of expertise to perpetuate their own agenda, to the detriment of true scholarship. This helps us understand why history has been taught so poorly in our schools colleges and universities — the professors have been taking liberties with truth. No wonder, a nation with such a rich history has some of the dullest history departments!

The Allahabad High Court noted the links between the academics representing the Sunni Central Waqf Board. Suvira Jaiswal, former Professor of the JNU, told the court, “I have not read Babarnama... It is correct to say that I am giving statement on oath regarding Babri Mosque without any probe and not on the basis of my knowledge, rather I am giving the statement on the basis of my opinion... Whatever (information) I gained with respect to the disputed site was on the basis of newspaper or what others told, that is, from the report of historians. By historians’ report I mean ‘Historians Report to Nation’.”

Satyawati College lecturer SC Mishra intoned, “Prithvi Raj Chauhan was king of Ghazni; he (Muhammad Ghori) was king of its adjoining area... I have heard of jaziya tax... At present I fail to recollect when and for what purpose it was levied. I do not remember that the jaziya was levied only on Hindus...”

Little wonder the court observed, “He accepts of being expert in Epigraphy but... neither he knows Arabic nor Persian nor Latin, therefore he had no occasion to understand the language in which the alleged inscription was written... The slipshod and casual manner in which he made inquiry about inscription is further interesting.”

The Ayodhya debate reveals a disturbing aspect of the personality of pre-eminent historian Irfan Habib — he has not hesitated to cast serious aspersions on the integrity of academicians and institutions in disagreement with his views. This book challenges such lord chaplains of Indian history.

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

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 10:07
by rohitvats
^^^Excellent. Will buy this ASAP.

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

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:32
by abhishek_sharma
The Frankfurt School at War: The Marxists Who Explained the Nazis to Washington


Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort. by FRANZ NEUMANN, HERBERT MERCUSER, and OTTO KIRCHHEIMER. edited by RAFFAELE LAUDANI. Princeton University Press, 2013, 704 pp. $45.00.

War makes for strange bedfellows. Among the oddest pairings that World War II produced was the bringing together of William “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) -- a precursor to the CIA -- and a group of German Jewish Marxists he hired to help the United States understand the Nazis.

Donovan was a decorated veteran of World War I and a Wall Street lawyer linked to the Republican Party. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt tapped him to create the United States’ first dedicated nonmilitary intelligence organization. At that time, many in the foreign policy establishment saw intelligence and espionage as somewhat undignified, even unimportant. So Donovan cast a wide net, recruiting not only diplomats and professional spies but also film directors, mobsters, scholars, athletes, and journalists.

Even in that diverse group, Franz Neumann stood out. Neumann, a Marxist lawyer and political scientist, had fled Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933. He arrived in the United States a few years later, where he was hailed as an expert on Nazi Germany after the 1942 publication of his book Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, which depicted Nazism as a combination of pathological, monopolistic capitalism and brutal totalitarianism. Neumann’s work brought him to the attention of Donovan, who was eager to mobilize relevant expertise regardless of its bearer’s political views.

Donovan put Neumann in charge of the Research and Analysis Branch of the OSS, studying Nazi-ruled central Europe. Neumann was soon joined by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse and the legal scholar Otto Kirchheimer, his colleagues at the left-wing Institute for Social Research, which had been founded in Frankfurt in 1923 but had moved to Columbia University after the Nazis came to power. What came to be known as the Frankfurt School combined an unorthodox brand of Marxism with an interdisciplinary approach to research that stressed the pivotal roles played by culture, law, politics, and psychology in buttressing injustice. Its members always disdained the more rigid leftist thinking that had claimed Marx’s mantle in the Soviet Union and elsewhere...

Full review is not available to me.

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

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 01:51
by abhishek_sharma
Lady of the House

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not for Turning
By Charles Moore (Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 859pp £30)

Not for Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher
By Robin Harris (Bantam Press 494pp £20)

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

Posted: 07 Jul 2013 07:52
by BajKhedawal
Just finished Lashkar by Mukul Deva, nice read.

I should have bought the part II Salim must die together with Lashkar. Now I have to wait 10 days for part II to arrive.

Lashkar soon to be a Movie, I wonder who the cast will be? The usual suspect John Abraham, Manoj Bajpai, etc. that Jamwal guy from "Commando" is not bad either.

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

Posted: 08 Jul 2013 16:22
by Adrija
^^ all the books by Mukul Deva are a nice read IMHO.

It's actually a bit amazing that he got away with his latest ("RIP") without it being banned.........won't say anything more otherwise it's be a spoiler :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Worth a read :mrgreen:

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

Posted: 09 Jul 2013 00:59
by ramana
Folks No comments in Book Review Thread.
Only book reviews.
Thanks, ramana

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

Posted: 09 Jul 2013 02:40
by ramana ... rical.html

Indians were not Ahistorical

Geography, People and Geodynamics of India in Puranas and Epics

Author : KS Valdiya

Publisher : Aryan Book,Rs 495

Noted geologist KS Valdiya investigates the geological history of the Indian subcontinent as mentioned in the epics and Puranas, hitherto a largely neglected field, writes Rohit Srivastava

In his famous Minutes on Education (1835), Thomas Babington Macaulay admitted that he had “no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic”, but nevertheless pontificated about the “intrinsic superiority” of Western literature. In the 20th century, Indian scholarship unfortunately internalised his views and rejected the merit of our ancient literature in totality, as part of a shameful attempt to gain acceptance — jobs, scholarships, seminar invitations — from Western academia, without ever trying to seriously evaluate the corpus and its relevance in our contemporary lives.

As a result of this intellectual abdication, modern Indians are totally disconnected from the intellectual currents of their native tradition over the past 3,000 years and cannot put context to its historical books and epics. In sharp contrast, historians in the West have made strenuous efforts to revisit Greek and Roman mythology with the help of archeology, geology and other branches of science.

The decades of intellectual sloth and subservience are now being shattered through pioneering work of experts with an appetite for new explorations and a desire to bequeath a legacy that future generations can view with pride. Thus, we have a number of path-breaking publications on the historicity of Hindu texts. Noted geologist KS Valdiya, through his book Geography, People and Geodynamics of India in Puranas and Epics, investigates the geological history of the Indian subcontinent as mentioned in the Puranas, hitherto a largely neglected field. Although every Hindu has for centuries done puja with the sacred mantra — “Jambudweep bharatkhande aryavarte” — very few know what Jambudweep is and where it lies, or what the difference is between Bharatkhande and Aryavarte.

According to the Puranas, the earth comprises of seven mega-islands or continents, each one bigger than the other, and all surrounded by oceans of salt water. The mega-islands are Jambudweep, Plaksh, Shalmal, Kush, Kraunch, Shak and Pushkar (Shiva Purana, Pancham Umasanhita, Kurma Purana). It is likely that the seven mega-islands are the seven continents we know today — Eurasia, Africa, South America, North America, Arctic and Antarctica. This book answers many such questions.

Ancient Indian texts are exhaustive in their treatment of flora, fauna, the geographical extent of India, the mountain ranges and the origin of rivers. These texts literally map the geography of India to such an extent that even today the Geological Survey of India would be astonished at what these authors recorded thousands of years ago, with few sophisticated tools in hand, covering meticulously the geography of almost the entire subcontinent and beyond.

The book scrutinises the Puranas for the geographical history of the subcontinent. The physiology of the country has changed since the time these books were written. The Puranas are part of Itihas (history) of ancient India. But Valdiya proves, with his expertise in geology, that these books also have recorded the changes in the geography of the land at the time the stories were being written.

We would do well to have a look at these books to improve our understanding of the land and see the impact of changes on human civilisation. A case in point is the disappearance of the mighty Saraswati river which led to massive displacement and resettlement of the populace. Valdiya has mentioned a few Sanskrit verses to corroborate this. In the Mahabharata, Balram went in search of the Saraswati’s course; this proves that the disappearance of the river must have had enormous consequences for the people and the region. Balram has traditionally been credited with using his plough to pull the Yamuna, originally a tributary of the Saraswati, towards Mathura, thereby making it a separate river and saving the region for human settlement. The story explains the agricultural prosperity of Mathura which supported a rich and powerful kingdom.

Similarly, examining the locations of the 12 dhams with their jyotirlings, one would be struck by the realisation that practically all these places are characterised by spectacular landforms and extraordinary geological features shaped by uncommon earth processes. These facts speak volumes of the great vision, penetrating intellect and incredible knowledge of earth science among those who discovered them and made them national monuments by investing divinity on the naturally formed symbols of srishti or creation. There can be no denying, says Valdiya, that these men were not only intrepid explores and keen observers, but also deeply perceptive earth scientists.

The Pandavas, following Bhishma’s advice, went on a long pilgrimage across the country, visiting numerous shrines and cities, most likely to understand the socio-economic conditions and problems of the people inhabiting the different parts of the country. From this and many other accounts of pilgrimages and military campaigns, it is obvious that ‘Bharatvarsh’ of the Puranas and epic times was even larger than India before Independence. It is a sobering thought.

This book has been written in a scientific manner, with extensive use of maps, diagrams, satellite pictures and coloured pictures of geographical features — all extremely useful for students of Indian history and geography. The author has extensively researched Sanskrit texts, and every sentence is supported by appropriate shlokas with translations for the benefit of the general reader. Valdiya has taken care to be precise and to keep sceptics quiet with the liberal use of verses from ancient texts, rather than using generalised translations to support his conclusions. This book is compulsory reading for students of the civilisational history of India.

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

Posted: 21 Jul 2013 20:44
by ramana
Jerry Toner, "Homer's Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the East"

Publisher: Harvard University Press | ISBN: 0674073142 | 2013 | 313 pages |

A seventeenth-century English traveler to the Eastern Mediterranean would have faced a problem in writing about this unfamiliar place: how to describe its inhabitants in a way his countrymen would understand? In an age when a European education meant mastering the Classical literature of Greece and Rome, he would naturally turn to touchstones like the Iliad to explain the exotic customs of Ottoman lands. His Turk would have been Homer’s Turk.

An account of epic sweep, spanning the Crusades, the Indian Raj, and the postwar decline of the British Empire, Homer’s Turk illuminates how English writers of all eras have relied on the Classics to help them understand the world once called “the Orient.” Ancient Greek and Roman authors, Jerry Toner shows, served as a conceptual frame of reference over long periods in which trade, religious missions, and imperial interests shaped English encounters with the East. Rivaling the Bible as a widespread, flexible vehicle of Western thought, the Classics provided a ready model for portrayal and understanding of the Oriental Other. Such image-making, Toner argues, persists today in some of the ways the West frames its relationship with the Islamic world and the rising powers of India and China.

Discussing examples that range from Jacobean travelogues to Hollywood blockbusters, Homer’s Turk proves that there is no permanent version of either the ancient past or the East in English writing—the two have been continually reinvented alongside each other.

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

Posted: 21 Jul 2013 23:12
by rishabhsood
any book on graphology easily available in India..< INR600 ??

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

Posted: 24 Jul 2013 08:36
by ramana
Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery by M. A. Khan
English | January 26, 2009 | ISBN: 1440118469 | 380 pages |

The attacks of September 11, 2001, changed the way the world looks at Islam. And rightfully so, according to M.A. Khan, a former Muslim who left the religion after realizing that it is based on forced conversion, imperialism, and slavery: the primary demands of Jihad, commanded by the Islamic God Allah.

In this groundbreaking book, Khan demonstrates that Prophet Muhammad meticulously followed these misguided principles and established the ideal template of Islamic Jihad for his future followers to pursue, and that Muslims have been perpetuating the cardinal principles of Jihad ever since.

Find out the true nature of Islam, particularly its doctrine of Jihad, and what it means to the modern world, and also learn about
- The core tenets of Islam and its history
- The propagation of Islam by force and other means
- Islamic propaganda
- Arab-Islamic imperialism
- Islamic slavery and slave-trade
- And much more!

The commands of Allah are perpetual in nature, so are the actions of Prophet Muhammad. Jihad has been the way to win converts to Islam since its birth fourteen centuries ago, and it won't change anytime soon. Find out why in Islamic Jihad.

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

Posted: 28 Jul 2013 19:17
by member_19686
Multiple perspectives in novel on the Russo-Japanese War
JUL 27, 2013

I asked a Japanese friend how he would characterize Shiba Ryotaro’s famous historical novel, “Clouds Above the Hill.” I’ve known its immense popularity, but Shiba had started its newspaper serialization after I left Japan in 1968, and the size of the finished work — six volumes in book form — had daunted me, so I’d never read it. My friend’s reply: “The nation’s favorite book.”

Now it’s in English translation, in four large volumes — two of them out, the remaining two to come out later this year. As the English subtitle says, the novel concerns the Russo-Japanese War, from February 1904 to September 1905 — a war that has special, even nostalgic, meaning for the generations of Japanese who, like Shiba, lived significant chunks of the 20th century.

First, the war marked the heroic culmination of Japan’s Westernization. In just half a century after Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy pried it open, the country that had started out quaking with fear that it might become an imperialists’ punching bag challenged Russia, the colossal empire reputed to have the strongest army in the world, and beat it.

This was in stark contrast to the war that Japan muddled into three decades later and that brought the country to the brink.

There were other differences.

In going to war with Russia, the Meiji leaders knew their country had a 50-50 or less chance of winning. Keenly aware of Japan’s severe materiel and personnel constraints, they started the war with suing for peace as an integral part of their strategy, and they did sue for peace when they won a series of battles.

In going to war with China, then with the U.S., the Netherlands, and Great Britain, the Showa leaders apparently had no such plans.

The Meiji leaders knew the importance of world opinion. The Showa leaders apparently ignored it.

In fighting Russia, generals and admirals mostly acquitted themselves well. In fighting China, U.S., et al., few appeared to have done so.

The war with Russia over, some commanders, such as Adm. Heihachiro Togo (1847-1934) and Gen. Maresuke Nogi (1849-1912), were honored and feted worldwide. With the calamitous defeat in 1945, a large number of military officers, high and low, were charged with war crimes, and many were executed.

Such contrast between the two wars raised one vital question in the midst of “peace-loving,” antiwar sentiments that prevailed during the U.S. Occupation and in the years that followed: Couldn’t Japan have avoided war with China, the U.S., et al, had it not fought with Russia?

To this, Shiba Ryotaro brought a clear-cut answer (Part 3, Chapter 5, “Toward war”).

“From the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th, the world’s countries and regions had only two paths open to them: to be colonized by another nation, or, if that was unacceptable, to create industries, gain the necessary military strength, and join the ranks of the imperialist powers.”

Given those circumstances, just to wonder, in retrospect, if Japan should not have “adopted a policy of ‘neither invade nor be invaded’ ” and “focused only on the peace of mankind” would be to indulge in a pure “fantasy.”

This strong historical diagnosis is notable as it comes from an exceedingly popular, prolific writer of historical fiction who professed disgust with the Japanese military’s conduct and attitudes during World War II. He was a junior officer in the army’s armored division when Japan was defeated.

Shiba brings in another perspective to his grand account of the Russo-Japanese War: Men of that period unabashedly aspired to be the very best in the fields of their choice. He accordingly selected two military figures in that mold as protagonists to tell the tale.

One is Yoshifuru Akiyama (1859-1930), who created a cavalry out of thin air, as it were, in an army struggling to turn itself into a modern army, and crushed the most powerful cavalry at the time, the Russian Cossacks; the other, his younger brother Saneyuki (1868-1918), who, as Adm. Togo’s chief strategist, helped destroy one of the most powerful naval units of the day, the Baltic Fleet.

Shiba brings in another man of ambition, the haiku and tanka reformer Shiki Masaoka (1867-1902), who was also the naval aspirant Saneyuki’s close friend. He dies two years before the war starts, however.

Shiba is known to have avowed to stick to “facts” in telling this roman-fleuve. That, and the narrative serialized for four years faithfully reproduced in book form, occasionally creates repetitions and digressions, but Shiba is a master storyteller.

One thing that makes his story lively is the international element. Reflecting the age when the Japanese compulsively turned to Western ideas and practices, some of the famous figures put in their appearance.

Among them are Wilhelm Meckel (1842-1905), the Prussian Army officer who, during his three-year stint in Japan, helped shape the Japanese Army; and Alfred Mahan (1840-1914), the U.S. naval strategist whose opinions Saneyuki sought while he was assigned to the U.S.

Shiba incorporates foreign views and assessments. The most important in this regard is Sergei Witte (1849-1915), the Russian count who, while serving as Czar Nicholas II’s finance minister, strongly opposed war with Japan and was thus demoted. He later played a crucial role in the peace negotiations presided over by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

The first half of “Clouds above the Hill” ends on Nov. 26, 1904. That morning Gen. Gentaro Kodama (1852-1906), diminutive yet brilliant chief of staff of the expeditionary Manchurian forces, faces the sun and prays for the success of Gen. Nogi who is several hundred kilometers southwest, at Port Arthur (Lushun).

Nogi, commander of the Third Army who had already mounted two disastrous frontal assaults on the Russian fortress where Russia’s Pacific Fleet is based and protected, is to begin his third attack that day.

That battle and two more major battles — the one at Mukden (today’s Shenyang) and the naval battle at Tsushima Strait — will be told in the two volumes to follow. Stay tuned. ... fUkRtIUtIg

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

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 08:11
by abhishek_sharma

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

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 12:05
by Adrija

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

Posted: 07 Aug 2013 04:06
by abhishek_sharma

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

Posted: 15 Aug 2013 07:09
by abhishek_sharma
Oppenheimer: The Shape of Genius: Freeman Dyson

Book Review:
Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center
by Ray Monk
Doubleday, 825 pp., $37.50

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

Posted: 18 Aug 2013 17:54
by gunjur
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42 - By William Dalrymple

1)William accesses various diplomatic dispatches, letters of british, Russians of those period. Also from an afghan pov of events happening, he has gone through various Persian works of that period, including shah shuja’s biography, akbarnama, jang-nama.

2) Also as per the popular folklore, that entire british army retreating from Kabul were massacred along the mountain passes apart from one doctor who was spared so that he can pass the message to british india. But this is not the case. Many survived, actually few who had reached jalalabad, managed to hold on until the next british army reached them. Actually these people had even defeated akbar khan and made him to flee. Also later when british army comes back, they rescue many people in kabul.

Also to remember here is this happened over a period of 3 years. The retreat happened around 2 years after shah shuja had been placed on throne and not just after british entered kabul. So its not as if, as soon as british enter kabul, revolts happened to drive out the enemies.

3)The book also focuses on the great game played between british and Russians from 1809-1839 period. One thing for sure, Europeans were leagues ahead in the way they acted to protect their interests. They came to distant lands, built their empires, established a huge spy network, learnt every language the natives spoke, gamed every scenario. They used the divide and rule policy effectively to ensure their rule. THE GREAT GAME chapter is very detailed and engrossing as to how diplomacy was played by both Russia and british.

One incident in the book which recounts the british agent’s account in herat when he sees a Russian agent there
He raised and bowed as i rode up to him, but said nothing. I addressed him French – the general language of europeans in east – but he shook his head. I then spoke in English, and he answered in Russian. When i tried Persian, he seemed not to understand. Then he tried in Turcoman or uzbek Turkish. I knew sufficient of this language to carry basic conversation, but not to be inquisitive. This was evidently what he wanted, he rattled on as rapidly as possible. All i could find was that he was carrying presents to Persian ruler.

4)Though the book is mainly on anglo-afghan war, there are mention of Sikhs as well. Apart from ranjit singh mentioned on few occasions, mention of Sikhs mainly comes during the recapture of Peshawar by dost mohammed khan in mid 1830’s. Here the encounter of hari singh and akbar khan in battlefield is retold wherein akbar khan finally kills hari singh in battlefield which leads to Sikhs abandoning battlefield as per various afghan sources. Later Sikhs are mentioned during tripartite talks between Sikhs, british, shah shuja where they plan to attack Afghanistan. Overall Sikhs had very less role during 1st anglo-afghan war and is mentioned here and there before the war starts.

5)The author in the end jumps to current period, and compares the current scenario with that of 1st anglo-afghan war. He says similar to then, west has put a popalzai pathan (karzai) to power and the main resistance to that is being given by a barakzai pathan (mullah omar). Compares these two with shah shuja(popalzai) and dost mohammed khan(barakzai). The author says the situation then and now are not that different and west apart from spending lot of $$$ may achieve very less for afghanistan .

6) Author feels even then with the loss of today's pakistan areas to sikhs & british india, afghanistan had very less areas of revenue and couldn't finance itself. Which made the state weak and wild forces to prevail which is the case even today.

He finally concludes by recounting his meeting with some tribal elders.
Last month some American officers came and asked “Why do you hate us “. Elder replied, “because you blow our house, pull our women, kick our children. We can not accept this. We will fight back and we will break your teeth. Then you will leave, just as british left before you, just as Russians left recently. It is just a matter of time”. “These are the last days of Americans” another elder said, “next will be china”. :twisted: :twisted:

Though the author does have his own biases, the book is a good read as it has lot of details on various events pre-war, during war, post war and also current day comparison with 1st anglo-afghan war situation/scenarios.

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

Posted: 25 Aug 2013 20:45
by abhishek_sharma

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

Posted: 27 Aug 2013 21:24
by ramana
Something for our forum stalwarts to mull over/

Jonathan Haidt - The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Published: 2012-03-13 | ISBN: 0307377903 | 448 pages |

Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding.

His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures. But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim—that we are fundamentally groupish. It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.

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

Posted: 27 Aug 2013 23:52
by Vayutuvan
Adrija wrote:Worth a read for all jingoes


That link takes one to a website which seems to ship only in India. Looked for it on Amazon US and could not find it. Anybody - Adrija? - know whether they ship to US or preferably kindle/other ebook format is available?

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

Posted: 29 Aug 2013 12:12
by Adrija

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

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 21:22
by member_19686
The Great Hedge of India is a book about an obsession. Roy Moxham, ex-tea planter, ex-gallery owner turned book conservator, was searching among the volumes in a second-hand bookshop on the corner of London's Charing Cross Road when he came across Rambles and Reflections of an Indian Official by Major-General Sir W.H. Sleeman KCB, first published in 1893. Twenty-five pounds secured the item and away he took it, little thinking it would be the beginning of an ongoing fascination with an object few people initially believed existed. Moxham was beguiled by a footnote in the Major-General's book which quoted Lytton Strachey's father, Sir John Strachey. The note said, "To secure the levy of a duty on salt ... there grew up gradually a monstrous system ... A Customs line was established which stretched across the whole of India, which in 1869 extended ... a distance of 2, 300 miles ... It consisted principally of an immense impenetrable hedge".

Moxham was incredulous: could there really have been a hedge that stretched half the length of one of the world's largest countries? None of the standard histories he had read had mentioned a customs hedge and surely someone would have noted something quite so bizarre? On searching out the source of the quote he found that Strachey had not been misquoted but other references to the customs line were few and far between. His search was on. The book explains Moxham's fascinating and ultimately successful search for (over three years, with three separate trips to India), and fascination with, the hedge. Every other chapter outlines, with an enviable clarity and an always easy, conversational style, the historical context in which the hedge arose. The Great Hedge of India is a gem: a joy to read, entertaining, informative and occasionally angry--Moxham's research led him to discover the reason behind the hedge, a salt tax, was punitive in the extreme. "I was deeply shocked by what I discovered about salt. When I first had the idea of finding the remnants of the Customs Hedge I had imagined the barrier as a piece of British whimsy ... It was a terrible discovery to find that it had been constructed ... so as to totally cut off an affordable supply of an absolute necessity of life". An excellent little book. --Mark Thwaite --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. ... 1841194670

Salt Starvation in British India – Consequences of High Salt Taxation in the Bengal Presidency, 1765 to 1878. ... vation.htm

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

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 21:30
by Agnimitra
X-posting from Indian Interests thread:

ramana wrote: ... t-of-india ... parent.gif

September/October 2013


The Rise of the Rest of India

How States Have Become the Engines of Growth

RUCHIR SHARMA is head of Emerging Markets and Global Macro at Morgan Stanley Investment Management and the author of Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles.

Just finished reading Ruchir Sharma's "Breakout Nations" book. Its a good case for how economic or political "formulae" must be tied to where a country or state is on a curve. It may apply at one point and not another. A lot of hype about India or other emerging economies is misleading.

His books confirms that China has moved into a different league now from the rest of the BRICS and other emerging economies. His only caution about China is that its growth rate on a larger base will slow down naturally, and so investors banking on steep expansion rates will lose out. But there is a question mark on all other emerging economies being able to make it into that league. They need at least 2 to 4 decades of 8%+ growth rate to break out, such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China have had. India barely managed under a decade of such growth so far. He is positive about Turkey, though is quite naive about Turkey's political Islamism and justifies it as a reaction to the unnatural imposition of Kemalism. He lists common problems of India and Brazil, especially around corruption and lack of infrastructure.

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

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 01:36
by member_19686
TEA - Addiction, Exploitation and Empire tells the history of tea, from its discovery by the Chinese, to the first British imports in the seventeenth century, through to the present day. It tells of how the British tax on tea led to violent smuggling, and the loss of the American colonies; of how the British addiction to tea led to war with China. It describes how tea was then planted up in the Empire - in India, Ceylon, and Africa. Intrepid and eccentric British planters opened up hundreds of square miles of tea - but at a terrible cost to the native people. Britain lost its empire yet, through the brands it controls, still dominates the world of tea. ... 20book.htm

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

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 05:29
by Nikhil T
Though this is not a book, Inder Malhotra's articles on the India's wars and diplomacy run in a reverse chronological manner and are full with interesting tales.

Highly recommended:

Inder Malhotra articles on Indian Express

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

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 09:00
by abhishek_sharma
Three New Books on World War II

These three books illuminate different aspects of World War II using diaries, letters, and memoirs to capture what the war meant for people caught up in it. Klein’s monumental book focuses on what he calls “the greatest industrial expansion in modern history.” As the war began in Europe in 1939, the armed forces of the United States were small and undernourished, and the public was wary of any involvement. President Franklin Roosevelt pushed U.S. industry to get ready for a war that he knew would come. Klein details the impact this had on Washington -- the personality clashes, the interagency feuds, the tensions between government and big business -- and also demonstrates the enormous social impact of mass mobilization on the rest of society. Labor unions were challenged to moderate their demands out of patriotic duty, and African Americans were drawn into the mainstream work force, leading to hostile reactions from some white workers and even race riots in Detroit. In effect, Klein’s book narrates the birth pangs of the modern American state.

With The Guns at Last Light, Atkinson concludes his celebrated trilogy on World War II. The first two volumes covered the Allied campaigns in North Africa and Italy. In this one, Atkinson is on more familiar territory: the buildup to the Normandy landings and the drive to Berlin, with its frustrating setbacks. Most of his readers will know this story. Yet Atkinson still manages to keep it fresh, with a talent for narrative and a mastery of detail that make this book one of the great contributions to the war’s history. He has an impressive command of the high-level strategic debates, coalition politics, and logistical feats that shaped the war, and he brings them to life with the accumulation of small details: U.S. General George Patton’s exuberance at the prospect of battle, the inventory of personal effects found on corpses, the U.S. decision to excuse American soldiers who shot captured SS guards in cold blood at the concentration camp in Dachau, the bedbugs and caviar at the Yalta conference.

Atkinson also describes the sexual temptations that greeted American GIs in France and the dire consequences in terms of prostitution and venereal disease. Roberts zeroes in on this aspect of the war in a remarkable study that complicates the view of the liberation of France and casts doubt on the moral character of the vaunted “greatest generation” of Americans. She vividly depicts the impact of the influx of hundreds of thousands of GIs on French society, especially on French women. One of the book’s most troubling revelations is the way that U.S. authorities wrongly blamed the rapes of French women on African American soldiers. Roberts demonstrates how officials excused appalling conduct by referring to the stereotype of the licentious French woman -- blaming victims for the sexual assaults they suffered. The book is marred by a tendency to overgeneralize and to overinterpret observations gleaned from letters and diaries. Nonetheless, it is a powerful reminder of the dark side of the liberation.

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

Posted: 09 Sep 2013 08:51
by Adrija
Gents, please DO read this book, and recommend to all...........does more to clearly identify TIRP as the epicentre for global IT than all the GoI dossiers put together.... ... 0593071972

Book Description
Release Date: 26 Sep 2013

The Kill List: a top secret catalogue of names held at the highest level of the US government. On it, those men and women who would threaten the world's security. And at the top of it, The Preacher, a radical Islamic cleric whose sermons inspire his followers to kill high profile Western targets in the name of God. As the bodies begin to pile up in America, Great Britain and across Europe, the message goes out: discover this man's identity, locate him and take him out.

Tasked with what seems like an impossible job is an ex-US marine who has risen through the ranks to become one of America's most effective intelligence chiefs. Now known only as The Tracker, he must gather what scant evidence there is, collate it and unmask The Preacher if he is to prevent the next spate of violent deaths. Aided only by a brilliant teenaged hacker, he must throw out the bait and see whether his deadly target can be drawn from his lair.

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

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 04:14
by ramana
Hephzibah Israel, "Religious Transactions in Colonial South India: Language, Translation, and the Making of Protestant Identity"

English | ISBN 10: 0230105629 | 2011 |

Religious Transactions in Colonial South India locates the “making” of Protestant identities in South India within several contesting discourses. It examines evolving attitudes to translation and translation practices in the Tamil literary and sacred landscapes initiated by early missionary translations of the Bible in Tamil.

Situating the Tamil Bible firmly within intersecting religious, literary, and social contexts, Hephzibah Israel offers a fresh perspective on the translated Bible as an object of cultural transfer. She focuses on conflicts in three key areas of translation—locating a sacred lexicon, the politics of language registers and “standard versions,” and competing generic categories—as discursive sites within which Protestant identities have been articulated by Tamils. By widening the cultural and historical framework of the Tamil Bible, this book is the first to analyze the links connecting language use, translation practices, and caste affiliations in the articulation of Protestant identities in India.

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

Posted: 06 Oct 2013 23:48
by abhishek_sharma

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

Posted: 10 Oct 2013 07:56
by Philip
There have been several reviews of the book in Indian journals,a fascinating insight into Gandhi's pre-Indian fight for freedom,his S.African experiences which refined his political strategies and tactics that he used with superb effect later on. ... uha-review

Gandhi Before India by Ramachandra Guha – review
The Mahatma-in-waiting, and the flaw at the heart of a saintly mythology

Patrick French
The Guardian, Wednesday 9 October 2013

Mohandas Gandhi, centre, surrounded by workers in his law office in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1902. Photograph: AP

Picture the Mahatma-in-waiting at a smart London hotel in 1909. He is many things at once, a Gandhi we know less well. Aged 40, the lawyer has spent most of his adult life outside India and is heading a "deputation" from South Africa, lobbying the colonial power. He sees it as a betrayal of British values for Indians to be made to carry a certificate of registration, and he has recently been imprisoned for civil disobedience, paraded through Johannesburg in a convict's yellow jacket, pursued by Tamil supporters.

Gandhi Before India
by Ramachandra Guha, GUHA RAMACHANDRA

In London, Indians can become barristers or MPs, but in the colony of Natal they are not even permitted to cross the border into the Transvaal. Mohandas Gandhi is received by senior government ministers; wearing a tailcoat, he preaches moderation to a meeting of Indian revolutionaries; he woos English journalists, and sends a letter to Leo Tolstoy enclosing a hagiography of himself. Already, there are signs of the later man. He checks up on the newspaper he runs and on progress at his rural commune near Durban, informing his son Manilal that "a person who marries in order to satisfy his carnal desire is lower than even the beast". He is strict about the diet and conduct of others; a table in his large hotel suite is covered in grapes, oranges and monkey nuts.

Gandhi seems, oddly, the most modern of his near contemporaries. Atatürk, Clemenceau, Smuts – none have generated such convincing adjectives. "Scotland's campaign for independence must be Gandhian in its ambition," wrote an advocate recently in the Guardian. No other historical figure could be invoked so easily: this is the Gandhi we can all admire, the brilliant political strategist. Whenever possible he had private negotiations with those in power, offering them a compromise and inveigling them into his own narrative, and moving forward to fresh demands each time he took a victory. It is not hard to picture him today, staff in hand, leading a march or inspiring countless others to follow a cause, perhaps enjoying the adulation of Bono. Although Gandhi never actually said "be the change you want to see", it is the sort of resonant T-shirt slogan he ought to have uttered.

This public, mythologised Gandhi runs in parallel with continuing scholarly interest in his ideas and tactics. Faisal Devji portrays him in The Impossible Indian (published last year) as a radical thinker; the Yale political scientist Karuna Mantena sees him as a realist who used non-violence for transformative political effect. Gandhi's life has been so carefully chronicled that it did not occur to me there was more material to be discovered, as opposed to interpreted. One of the surprises in Gandhi Before India (the title is a nod to the author's superb post‑independence history, India After Gandhi) is just how much fresh material it contains. Guha has a gift for tracking down obscure letters and newspaper reports and patching them together to make history come alive. The Indian government spent 40 years assembling Gandhi's collected works, but seems to have excluded a great deal.

The book turns up some gems: one of young Gandhi's favourite pastimes while roaming the streets of Porbandar in Gujarat was twisting the ears of dogs; he was in touch with his rival Mohammad Ali Jinnah a decade earlier than was previously known; and some of the correspondence between Gandhi and his circle of friends is most revealing. Guha deftly observes that his community, the Gujarati Banias, are known for being frugal, non-confrontational and are "renowned for their smooth-tongue".

Like earlier writers, the author invests much energy in trying to show that Gandhi never had sex with anyone other than Mrs Gandhi. He certainly had weird, manipulative flirtations with young unmarried women – characterised here as "paternal" – and was the father from hell, refusing to let his sons be educated and forcing them to take vows of celibacy that they inevitably failed to keep. Gandhi's belief was that everyone who followed him should give up meat, alcohol, smoking and sex, and take up fasting. Guha claims that concerns over his fixation on celibacy and refusal to consult his wife Kasturba about it are a western obsession, but this neglects the doubts many Indian colleagues such as Nehru had.

Gandhi Before India demonstrates how complicated cross-cultural relations were in the 19th century. Several of Gandhi's promoters were freethinking British Jews who identified with his fight against injustice; but he was also backed by crusty empire stalwarts such as Sir Lepel Griffin, who thought "the prejudice against the Indians is encouraged, by the aliens, by Russian Jews, by Syrians, by German Jews". The Bombay steel magnate Sir Ratan Tata sent a cheque in support of the cause, saying Gandhi and his fellows were trying, "in the face of monstrous injustice and oppression, to assert their rights as citizens of the empire".

The political arguments over South Africa ran back and forth. When Gandhi moved there in 1893, he was not anticipating racial bitterness. During his London days, his friends had mainly been English vegetarians, dissenters and theosophists. Now, he found himself ranked alongside coolies. The British empire, conceiving of itself as an engine of progress, liked to set up "responsible government" in its colonies, where the better class of settler would be allowed to run a legislature that answered to the mother country. But what if it passed illiberal laws, such as the Natal rule that said Indians were not allowed to vote? For the colonial secretary in 1894, Lord Ripon, this was "naked exclusion in terms of race" and should be avoided. Gandhi lobbied Natal legislators and wrote to a Liberal MP of Indian origin in Westminster, stressing "there is not the slightest probability of the government of the natives passing from the Europeans to the Indians."

South Africa was the crucible in which his careful, incremental strategies of resistance were formed. His associate Henry Polak was not alone in regarding him before he became world famous as "the greatest Asiatic of his time". It took Gandhi decades to realise the British were usually stalling when they promised equality; as soon as non-whites began to benefit, they changed the rules. The Boers were more blatant in their racism, but perhaps less duplicitous then the Whitehall grandees: they made it clear they had conquered the land and did not want Indians there. During the Zulu rebellion of 1906, which Gandhi called the "revolt of the Kaffirs", he sided with the British empire. Later, aware that Indians were losing their rights, he mobilised labourers in South Africa's plantations and mines to extraordinary effect. Even the viceroy of India was converted to his cause.

Gandhi Before India is a work of vivid social history as well as biography. It largely follows the authorised, conservative version of Gandhi: when there is a doubt, he is given its benefit. The indigenous people who formed the overwhelming majority of the population of South Africa remain nearly invisible in Gandhi's life. He regarded them as barbarians who lived in "indolence and nakedness". On a rare occasion when he used the word "Africans", rather than "natives" or "kaffirs", it was while speaking to a white audience at the Johannesburg YMCA. Guha deals with this subject gingerly, describing Gandhi's extraordinary capaciousness as being "constrained in one fundamental sense" because he had no professional or social interaction with black people during the two decades or more he lived in Africa. The point is not that someone born in the 19th century should be expected to have 21st-century racial attitudes: it is that, even by the reformist standards of his own time, he was regressive. Gandhi's blanking of Africans is the black hole at the heart of his saintly mythology.

A few months before the outbreak of the first world war, the campaigner and his family sailed back to India to pursue his destiny. He had meetings with Gujarati merchants, indentured Indian labourers and white officials. Addresses were presented to him by Muslims and Parsis, by the Cantonese Club and the Tamil Benefit Society. He attended a dinner hosted by the Hon HA Wyndham, at which aubergine cutlets, asparagus à la vinaigrette and plum tart were served (but no wine). In a farewell speech, he told them he hoped "the Europeans of South Africa would take a humanitarian and imperial view of the Indian question". But he said goodbye to not a single African. "To them alone were Gandhi's connections too slight to merit a formal and public farewell," notes his biographer. Yet for all this, the idiom of non-violent resistance he developed was to become an inspiration for generations of black leaders: Du Bois, King, Mandela – they all invoked him. When Barack Obama first became a senator, it was Gandhi's portrait he hung in his office.

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

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 07:09
by abhishek_sharma

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

Posted: 25 Oct 2013 07:07
by abhishek_sharma

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

Posted: 01 Nov 2013 07:14
by abhishek_sharma

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

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 23:26
by SwamyG
I highly recommend the book "How India's Intellectuals Spread Lies" by Ravi Shanker Kapoor.

I am almost done reading this book, and disagree with the author on the need for "Conservatism" in India and his prescription. He views the World as "Liberals" vs "Conservatives". However his criticisms on Nehru, Arundhati Roy, P.Chidambaram, Islamic Liberals, Mani Shankar Aiyar etc will leave BRFites heart warm. Probably it was written by a BRFite.

Powerful vocabulary that dices, minces and cuts through people and ideologies. He worships Thatcher. It is an easy fast paced read; and you can pick chapters/intellectuals randomly. He takes to task even RSS (I will try to post some excerpts)


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

Posted: 11 Dec 2013 23:17
by Rony
SwamyG wrote:I highly recommend the book "How India's Intellectuals Spread Lies" by Ravi Shanker Kapoor.

+ 1 Ravi Shanker Kapoor also wrote another book earlier "More Equal than Others : A Study of the Indian Left " which is also a must read book

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

Posted: 22 Dec 2013 10:53
by abhishek_sharma
The Readers of Novyi Mir: Coming to Terms With the Stalinist Past


In repressive societies, literature often carries a weight that it does not in free countries. The principal venue in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union for reflections -- narrow at first and then inexorably widening -- on the Soviet Union’s history was the venerated literary journal Novyi Mir (New World). The journal shot to prominence in 1953 with its publication of an essay on sincerity in literature, written by the critic Vladimir Pomerantsev. Western literary critics accustomed to scarcely a ripple of attention might find it hard to believe, but the piece stirred a storm of controversy in newspapers, universities, and even factories. More than 700 letters flooded the journal’s offices, some of them longer than 30 handwritten pages. Other provocations followed, each pushing deeper into the dehumanized reality of the Soviet experience and each generating agitated responses. With the opening of the archives of the journal and of its bureaucratic keepers, Kozlov gained access to tens of thousands of unpublished letters from readers as well as the records of editorial meetings and accounts of the authorities scrambling to respond to the latest controversies. This fine history reveals the society-changing power of what Kozlov calls “the relationship between texts and readers.”

Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937–1945


Mitter applies historical empathy to yield fresh insights into the situations of all the actors in the horrific conflict that the Chinese call the War of Resistance Against Japan, which lasted from 1937 to 1945. He pays particular attention to China’s leaders, explaining Chiang Kai-shek’s decision to breach the dikes of the Yellow River, an act that killed half a million of his countrymen; Mao Zedong’s preference for a protracted guerrilla strategy against the Japanese; and Wang Jingwei’s decision to collaborate with the Japanese occupiers. But he also recounts the frustrations of Japanese infantrymen that led them to behave so viciously in occupied Chinese cities. The only person Mitter fully condemns is U.S. General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, often portrayed as a hero in earlier accounts but whom Mitter charges with blinkered egoism in his clashes with Chiang. The narrative also tells the stories of soldiers, refugees, missionaries, and journalists, creating an exceptionally full narrative of a fateful period whose legacies still shape China; these include a broader sense of national identity, modern techniques of mass mobilization and propaganda, a large role for the state in providing for the needs of the people, and a culture of violence.

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

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 05:07
by ramana

India Discovered: The Recovery of a Lost Civilization by John Kea
2001 | ISBN: 0007123000 | English | 224 pages |

Two hundred years ago, India was seen as a place with little history and less culture.Today it is revered for a notable prehistory, a magnificent classical age and a cultural tradition unique in both character and continuity. How this extraordinary change in perception came about is the subject of this fascinating book. The story, here reconstructed for the first time, is one of painstaking scholarship primed by a succession of sensational discoveries. The excitement of unearthing a city twice as old as Rome, the realization that the Buddha was not a god but a historical figure, the glories of a literature as rich as anything known in Europe, the drama of encountering a veritable Sistine chapel deep in the jungle, and the sheer delight of categorizing 'the most glorious galaxy of monuments in the world' fell, for the most part, to men who were officials of the British Raj. Their response to the unfamiliar - the explicitly sexual statuary, the incomprehensible scripts, the enigmatic architecture - and the revelations which resulted, revolutionized ideas not just about India but about civilization as a white man's prerogative. A companion volume by the author of the highly praised India: A History and The Great Arc.

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

Posted: 06 Jan 2014 08:08
by ramana
Amy Chua, "Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance-and Why They Fall"
English | 2009-01-06 | ISBN: 1400077419 | 435 pages |

In this sweeping history, bestselling author Amy Chua explains how globally dominant empires—or hyperpowers—rise and why they fall. In a series of brilliant chapter-length studies, she examines the most powerful cultures in history—from the ancient empires of Persia and China to the recent global empires of England and the United States—and reveals the reasons behind their success, as well as the roots of their ultimate demise.Chua's analysis uncovers a fascinating historical pattern: while policies of tolerance and assimilation toward conquered peoples are essential for an empire to succeed, the multicultural society that results introduces new tensions and instabilities, threatening to pull the empire apart from within. What this means for the United States' uncertain future is the subject of Chua's provocative and surprising conclusion.

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

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 21:32
by Rony
Forged in Crisis: India and the United States since 1947 by Rudra Chaudhuri

Book Review by Myra MacDonald

Reading some of the Indian commentary on the row over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the United States, you would be forgiven for thinking that India continued to play the role of victim confronted by great power arrogance. You might also come away bemused by the volatility of the US-India relationship—it has oscillated from India’s closeness to the Soviet Union during the Cold War to the “strategic partnership” promised by the 2005 US-India nuclear deal to the explosive, but petty, row over the diplomat and her alleged treatment of her Indian maid. (The row was partially resolved last week after Khobragade was accorded diplomatic immunity and sent home; in response, the Indian government under the ruling Congress party expelled a U.S. diplomat.)

A new book on U.S.-India relations dispels, however, both the myth of India as victim and the idea of volatility, suggesting instead a remarkable consistency in India’s determination since independence in 1947 to defend its own interests and its approach to the United States.

In “Forged in Crisis; India and the United States since 1947”, author Rudra Chaudhuri argues that India has always been willing to mix idealism with expediency—or, in his words, “ideas and interests”—to gain economic and military help from the United States without sacrificing its independence. Its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru—one of the architects of the Non-Aligned Movement—was clear from the start on the need to seek “engagement without entanglement” with Washington. “I am anxious to avoid any dependence on the USA,” he declared in 1948. “I do not like the way they are going and they have a method of trying to get their pound’s flesh…” Yet far from being the lofty idealist that he is commonly remembered as, Nehru was ruthlessly pragmatic in pursuing Indian interests. Thus, for example, after seeking U.S. military help against China in a 1962 border war, Nehru subsequently rejected all attempts to make western aid conditional on a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Indeed, as early as 1963, it was the United States rather than the newly defeated India which was forced to back down by accepting that military aid would not be contingent on a Kashmir settlement.

Nehru’s daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, displayed the same determination to pursue Indian interests when she signed a “Treaty of Friendship” with the Soviet Union in 1971 to shield India from the risk of U.S. and Chinese intervention in its war with Pakistan. “Yet her instinct for and sense of non-alignment was by no means divorced from Nehru’s understanding and approach to foreign policy,” writes Chaudhuri. Rather than become a Soviet satellite, India resumed its engagement with the United States after the war—which led to the independence of then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh—while pursuing a nuclear weapons program to guarantee its autonomy. It conducted its first nuclear test in 1974.

A generation later, in keeping with India’s drive to define its relationship with Washington on its own terms, Indian leaders successfully navigated the aftermath of a series of nuclear tests in 1998. While these triggered sanctions, they also captured America’s attention. Indeed as Strobe Talbott, then deputy Secretary of State, is quoted as saying, one of the consequences of the tests was that the United States would give India “serious, sustained, and respectful attention of a kind the Indians felt they had never received before.”

This would lead to what would become a bipartisan Indian effort to engage with Washington while insisting—as Nehru had done decades earlier—on the primacy of Indian interests at all times. In one of the more fascinating chapters, Chaudhuri recounts the debate within the then ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on whether to send Indian troops to help the United States after its 2003 invasion of Iraq. It eventually decided against doing so; however, that the Hindu nationalist BJP even entertained the idea showed how far India’s approach to the United States cut across party lines. Tellingly, the Indian Prime Minister at the time, Atal Behari Vajpayee, was comfortable using a concept first crafted by Nehru that India was “following an honest non-aligned policy” in its decisions about Iraq.

Despite the disappointment over Iraq, the administration of President George W. Bush threw everything it had at building relations with India. It abandoned decades of efforts to try to balance India and Pakistan by adopting a policy of “de-hyphenation” to deal with both countries separately—essentially accepting Delhi’s argument that it was too big a world power to be bracketed with its difficult smaller sibling. Washington also set aside its commitment to non-proliferation by negotiating an agreement with India—first announced in 2005—which recognized it as the first nuclear weapons state outside the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In the detailed talks which followed, India fought successfully for concessions to maintain the independence of its nuclear weapons program. By the time the nuclear agreement was signed in 2008, India had negotiated much of what it wanted. “India today is the only non-NPT state with nuclear weapons that produces fissile material, has an active nuclear weapons program and can still trade with the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group),” writes Chaudhuri.

In his conclusions, Chaudhuri argues that “India will never be an ally of the US.” The two countries should expect “momentary disagreements over a whole range of issues”. Washington should also learn, he says, not to make public pronouncements over Kashmir—as happened in the early years of the Obama administration when the idea of a “Kashmir to Kabul” grand bargain became briefly fashionable as a means of turning around the Afghan war. “But notwithstanding the typical trials and tribulations experienced in a relationship between any two nations, especially two of the world’s most populous democracies, a well-founded strain for elasticity has not only taken root, but much more importantly and much less evidently makes allowances for temporary incidents of botched diplomatic forays.”

He is probably right. India is far too important a country for the United States to ignore. And given what Chaudhuri calls “the faint but distinctive edifice of an Indian approach to foreign affairs” discernible from 1947 onwards, India has also shown a consistent pattern of being ready to face down Washington when it suited Delhi’s interests, while seeking help when required.

The unintended impact of the book, however, is to portray a country which has been ruthless in the pursuit of its own interests. The assumed Nehruvian leftist idealism about non-alignment disguised a focus on Indian national interests, while the supposed new chapter written by the nuclear deal hid a determination to resist if India felt its standing were challenged—as happened when Khobragade was arrested and strip-searched in New York. Other countries also pursue national interests, but they do so in different ways: the United States, for example, still wants to be liked and—despite its history of militarism since 9/11—to be seen as a champion of democracy and the free world. European countries, especially Britain, have traded in their security policies to the United States in return for a large measure of political and economic independence. India, however, has dressed its own pursuit of national interest in the language of the victim—an easy enough garb to adopt for any post-colonial state—while winning virtually every policy argument it has ever had with the United States. The apparent volatility in US-India relations comes only from the West’s own surprise when India reasserts its own interests.

The question, therefore, is to ask why Washington has entertained such unrealistic expectations of India. As demonstrated in Chaudhuri’s book, it has always been disappointed—from hoping that helping India against China in 1962 would give it leverage to pursue a Kashmir settlement, to expecting the nuclear deal to carve out a new phase of cooperation.

The row over Khobragade has been instructive in revealing deep cultural differences between the two countries. India, quite rightly, defended the principle of immunity from prosecution of its diplomats, as any country would have done. Where it left Western observers aghast, however, was in the extent to which the Indian government sided with the elite, in this case the diplomat, over her maid, who was assumed to be guilty without trial. This was not a country treating all its citizens equally while legitimately balancing this with the principle of immunity for its diplomats, but, rather, a strong state defending those in power. The trite assumptions underlying the US-India relationship—that the world’s most powerful democracy should be naturally allied with the world’s biggest democracy—foundered, in this case, on very different interpretations of what democracy means.

Beyond making sense of those cultural differences, the United States also needs a realistic reappraisal of what it has achieved in the past and what it will gain in the future through its efforts to woo India into a tighter alliance. The historical record is poor.