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: 2237
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby Rony » 01 Apr 2010 11:50

Just went to the local Borders store. The section dealing with "Asian history" has very less India related books and even those books are mostly of Naipauls ' A area of Darkness' or Romila Thapar's 'Indian history' types. In the religious section, the prominant book displayed about Hindusim is wendy doniger's 'Hindus, a alternative history'.

I asked the store fellow on what basis or considerations they collect the books which are displayed in the store.His answer is 1. By popularity and 2. The number of sales by book. Based on that, it looks like the negative books on India are also the highest selling books on India.

So i checked on the Border's online section to look at the India related books. Most of the books are negative, but also found some interesting books some of which i noted down for my own purposes.

1. India, A civilization of differences : The anceint tradition of Universal Tolerance by Alain Danielou

2. History of Armenians in India : From the earliest times to the present day by Mesroub J.seth

3. India in Africa, Africa in India : Indian Ocean Cosmopolitanisms by John C.Howley

4. Delusions and Discoveries : India in the British imagination , 1880-1930 by Benita Parry

5. Indian Saris : Traditions -Perspectives-Design by Vijay Singh Katiyar

6. Al-Hind : The making of the Indo-Islamic world by Andre Wink

7. The Indian Rennaissance : India's rise after a thousand years of decline by Sanjeev Sanyal

8. The Search of the cradle of civilization by George Geuerstein, Subhash Kak and David Frawley

9. Castes of Mind : Colonialism and the making of modern India by Nicholas B.Driks

10. An economic history of India : From pre-colonial times to 1991 by Dietmar Rothermund

11. India : The rise of an Asian Giant by Dietmar Rothermund

12. A military history of India and South Asia : From the East India company to the nuclear era by Daniel P.Morston , Chander S.Sundaram.

Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2237
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby Rony » 03 Apr 2010 09:05

Scratches on Our Minds: American Views of China and India by Harold R. Isaacs


A 1955 book on the perceptions of Americans on Chinese and Indians. If not the entire book, at least check out the India section and then try to reconcile that with the American policies towards India at that time.

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 10 Apr 2010 11:57


The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives
~ Shankar Vedantam (Author)


Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; First Edition edition (January 19, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385525214
ISBN-13: 978-0385525213
Washington Post science journalist Vedantam theorizes that there's a hidden world in our heads filled with unconscious biases, often small, hidden errors in thinking that manipulate our attitudes and actions without our knowing it. Autonomy is a myth, he says, because knowledge and rational intention are not responsible for our choices. This thesis is not news— since Freud, psychologists have taken the unconscious into account—but Vedanta argues that if we are influenced sometimes, then why not all the time, whether we're launching a romance or a genocide. This is a frightening leap in logic. In anecdotal, journalistic prose, we learn that, through bias, rape victims can misidentify their attacker; people are more honest even with just a subtle indication that they are being watched; polite behavior has to do with the frontotemporal lobes rather than with how one was raised; and that we can be unconsciously racist and sexist. Though drawing on the latest psychological research, Vedantam's conclusions are either trite or unconvincing.

Vedantam's subject is the part of the brain that functions unbeknown to its owner.

I thought this was called "The Subconscious," but that's not the same thing, insofar as we all have our personal subconscious. The Hidden Brain is the unconscious way we all think (or just about all of us), and it's a chilling reminder that what we think is free choice actually isn't.

Vedantam draws on recent psychological research to show some disturbing facts. He spends a whole chapter on investigating racial bias among people who never showed it. He comes to the conclusion that not only are these people biased in spite of their belief that they're not, but we are all biased, and this comes from infancy. People act unbiased against their unconscious beliefs, even in one case, a minority person whose job was to teach other people to be unbiased.

The way the hidden brain does this is so subtle that we're fooled into thinking that it's normal, conscious thinking. How else would the teacher of racial harmony find herself associating bad things with minority names? The inference is that we'll all do this. If you deny this, try the tests at "Project Implicit" at the Harvard University web site.

Another chapter is devoted to gender bias. It is sad to hear the stories of two professors at Stanford University talk about their professional life since a sex change. The woman who changed to a man says, "I am taken more seriously." He was called a better worker than his "sister" (the same person). The man who changed to a woman is now in the bottom ten percent of salaries and male colleagues shout at him at conferences when they don't agree with his point of view.

Vedantam has a chapter on why some people saved themselves on 9/11, while others stayed at their desks and died. He also has a chapter on a suicide bomber who didn't, in fact, manage to kill himself. To some degree he answers the question of "Why are suicide bombers usually well-educated and have no suicidal tendencies?"

And finally, Vedantam talks of how politicians exploit the hidden brain to get an unfair advantage at elections. You'll be surprised about what he reveals, and how to fight a barely-disguised racial slur with a rebuttal that neutralized the accusation.

All in all, a good book, well-written, and an eye opener. Definitely worth your time.

Shankar Vedantam (b. 1969 in Bangalore, India) is an American author and national correspondent and columnist for the Washington Post(1). He writes about science and human behavior. He is also a 2009-2010 Fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University(2), and is on the faculty at the Journalism School at Columbia University(3).
Shankar Vedantam's articles touch on a wide range of subjects, most of them with links to current events. In his column in the Washington Post he routinely explores the overt and covert influences that shape people's attitudes to the world around them. His interests also include the role of science and religion in everyday life, and the effects of religious faith on health. In his articles he has explored the interplay between neuroscience and spirituality.
Shankar Vedantam is the author of the book "The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives"(4). He has also published a book of short stories entitled The Ghosts of Kashmir(5). His short stories have been published in the Rosebud and Catamaran magazines. Tom, Dick & Harriet, a play he co-authored with Donald C. Drake, was produced in Philadelphia at the Brick Playhouse in April 2004(6).

Vedantam has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from India, and master's degree in journalism from Stanford University. Prior to his Washington Post employment, he worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Knight-Ridder's Washington Bureau, and New York Newsday.


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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 20 Apr 2010 03:23

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It
~ Joshua Cooper Ramo (Author)



Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (March 23, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316118087
ISBN-13: 978-0316118088

The point is that whenever you think the world is stable, it's not. Even the smallest perturbations--home mortgage collapses or computer viruses--can cause tremendous dislocations. The pile in Bak's experiment is always growing in complexity and changing. So the lesson for us is that there are no simple policies or easy solutions; the problems we face rarely end, they just change shape. So we need a revolution in our way of thinking and in the institutions we use to manage the world if we are going to keep up with such a dynamic system.

You espouse that average citizens should take control of their lives and live in a "revolutionary" manner. What do you mean? Can established governments and revolutionaries co-exist?
Sure they can. Google and the US government get along fine (more or less). What matters is that we all do three things: first we have to live lives that are very resilient, which means taking care of our selves, our savings, our family and our education so we can adjust to a rapidly changing world. Second, we all have to participate in a caring economy, devoting some of our life to helping others instead of relying on the government to help others for us. And finally we have to be innovative in how we live and think. We have to try to think of new ways to make a difference in the world as individuals, to help prepare our children to manage and control their own lives instead of relying on big corporations or the government to do so.

We are living in a deeply unpredictable moment in history in which things seem to be getting more unstable and it just keeps getting worse. What hopeful prospects do you see in our future?

I think that basically what we are living in is a very disruptive moment. And this involves both disruption for bad ends (think 9/11) and for good (think of bio-engineering disease cures.) I'm optimistic because I basically believe more people want to disrupt for good than for bad. The challenge for us is simply to empower as many people to create, and to live as full lives as we can.


Today the very ideas that made America great imperil its future. Our plans go awry and policies fail. History's grandest war against terrorism creates more terrorists. Global capitalism, intended to improve lives, increases the gap between rich and poor. Decisions made to stem a financial crisis guarantee its worsening. Environmental strategies to protect species lead to their extinction.

The traditional physics of power has been replaced by something radically different. In The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo puts forth a revelatory new model for understanding our dangerously unpredictable world. Drawing upon history, economics, complexity theory, psychology, immunology, and the science of networks, he describes a new landscape of inherent unpredictability--and remarkable, wonderful possibility.


Starred Review. Former foreign editor of Time, Ramo pushes the reader into uncomfortable yet exhilarating places with controversial ways of thinking about global challenges (e.g., studying why Hezbollah is the most efficiently run Islamic militant group). His book, which lays bare the flaws in current thinking on everything from American political influence to the economy, is designed to change the physics of the way we think. Analyzing the failure of the Bush administration's Democratic Peace Theory and the fruitless efforts at a Mideast peace process, Ramo suggests that people must change the role they imagine for themselves from architects of a system they can control to gardeners in a living ecosystem. Ramo's message—that the most dynamic forces emerge from outside elite circles: geeks, iconoclasts and maligned populations—is persuasively argued. And while the author doesn't explicitly offer up solutions, he goads readers to approach problems in unexpected ways. His revelatory work argues that there must be some audacity in thinking before there can be any audacity of hope. (Apr.)

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 20 Apr 2010 13:07

Terrorism Studies
Social scientists do counterinsurgency.
by Nicholas Lemann


http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/04/26/100426crbo_books_lemann

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 23 Apr 2010 10:08

Overpowered?
Questioning the Wisdom of American Restraint

Michael Mandelbaum

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66223/michael-mandelbaum/overpowered

For Jack Matlock, Giulio Gallarotti, and Christopher Preble, the authors of three new books about power and U.S. foreign policy, the essence of "the power problem" is that the United States has too much of it. But the era in which U.S. foreign policy could be driven in counterproductive directions by an excess of power is in the process of ending.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 23 Apr 2010 10:12

The Struggle for Tibet; Tibet's Last Stand? The Tibetan Uprising of 2008 and China's Response

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66381/wang-lixiong-and-tsering-shakya-warren-w-smith-jr/the-struggle-for-tibet

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 23 Apr 2010 10:17


abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 02 May 2010 07:49


abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 02 May 2010 07:50

WINSTON’S WAR
Churchill, 1940-1945
By Max Hastings

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/books/review/Wheatcroft-t.html

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 09 May 2010 13:18

To Live or to Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan
Nicholas Schmidle (Author)


Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (May 12, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805089381
ISBN-13: 978-0805089387
Nicholas Schmidle, a newly wed 26-year old research fellow, went to Pakistan for a two-year stint. His instructions were to go; don't come home, learn and write about what you hear and see. And this he did with astonishing clarity, depth and objectivity. There he lived as a Pakistani, learning to speak and write Urdu. What he learned and how he learned it were both dangerous, and eventually did put his life and that of his family at constant risk. Yet, compelled by his own inner drive, the author persisted.

We, the reader, are the beneficiaries of this exceptional author, his determination, his uncommon skill as a writer and the many revelations that seem fresh and indispensable to a full understanding of both the complexity and the dynamism that is Pakistan the country -- as well as the volatile region of which Pakistan is a pivotal part. What he discovers confirms a treatise by one of his mentors: that Pakistan is not yet a country, but a land of basically five side-by-side ethnic amalgams: independent ethnic strains held together only tenuously by their barely stable Islamic identity. Even the religious glue that holds together Islam, is no guarantee of an eventual stable nation state.

Schmidle grabs your attention from the beginning and in just a few pages introduces you to the real Pakistan and the way it works. The police come to his apartment at night and tell him he must leave the country immediately. Schmidle's wife Rikki, who knows influential people in government, suggests calling a senior "patron," who takes the phone and intercedes with the police to leave them alone. The Schmidles have been in Pakistan for two years, Nicholas on a writing fellowship learning all he can about Pakistan and its people.

The next morning they call their patron again. Schmidle notes that knowing the right people in Pakistan is critical, but it's far more important not to know the wrong people, who can get you in more trouble than the right people can get you out of. Schmidle's patron tells him the matter is "way above his head" in government and they should leave Pakistan immediately. Schmidle had published an article in the New York Times Magazine exposing the new generation of Taliban leaders.


As I write this (May 2009), Pakistan may well become, in the next year, the most important place in the world in terms of the security of the United States and Europe. This book will give you insight into this country and these people that will be critical in understanding the news coverage.

Nicholas became fluent in Urdu, wore local mufti, and personally met with all of the key players in Pakistan, as well as many of the common people. Pakistan is not so much a country as a confederation of competing ethnic and ideological groups, each of whom seek complete hegemony.

I was first introduced to this book through an interview heard on NPR and was captivated by Schmidle and his insights. The major networks, with 30-60 second news stories, will never be capable of communicating what is really happening in Pakistan. This book is a must-read for understanding Pakistan today -- and it is compellingly interesting to read.

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 10 May 2010 13:19

Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America [Hardcover]
P. David Gaubatz (Author), Paul Sperry (Author)

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: WND Books; First Edition edition (October 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935071106
ISBN-13: 978-1935071105
This book, detailing the operation and its findings shows the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is not the beneficent Muslim civil-rights group it claims to be. Indisputable evidence now demonstrates CAIR and other "mainstream" Islamic groups are acting as fronts for a well-funded conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood - the parent of al-Qaida and Hamas - to infiltrate and destroy the American system.

Until now, CAIR has remained a powerful force in the nation's capital and across the country, from demanding the Obama administration stop FBI counter-terrorism tactics to compelling a school district to apologize to Muslims.

That influence, many believe, may be coming to an end, as a result of the undercover investigation - which included the son of a veteran counter-terrorism investigator, who grew a beard and converted to Islam, as well as two veiled female interns. Multiple lawsuits were filed by CAIR, which in my opinion, is a two-face terror cell organization that has been undermining America since its foundation. But this book, which has undergone extensive operation and undercover intelligence retrieval, has been under fire by CAIR and ACLU- lovers. So basically if you are looking for analysis on the impact of "The flying imams [2006?]"(and similar radical Islamic incidents) and how it has jeopardized our rights as Americans to question suspicious behavior- a life-saving technique- on account of being sued and threatened by organizations like CAIR and the ACLU- then this is the book for you; the intellectual reader.

Now, get ready for an undercover exposé even more daring -- a six-month penetration of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations that resulted in the collection of thousands of pages of smoking-gun documents from this terror-supporting front group for the dangerous, mob-like Muslim Brotherhood.

This is what Muslim Mafia delivers.

It has all the elements of a top-flight mystery novel, but the situations and conversations are real. The book's frightening allegations are supported by more than 12,000 pages of confidential CAIR documents and hundreds of hours of video captured in an unprecedented undercover operation.

This trail of information reveals the seditious and well-funded efforts of the Brotherhood under the nonprofit guise of CAIR to support the international jihad against the U.S.

Follow intern Chris Gaubatz as he courageously gains the trust of CAIR's inner sanctum, working undercover as a devoted convert to Islam, and blows the whistle on the entire factory fueling the wave of homegrown terrorism now plaguing America.

About the Author
P. David Gaubatz, a former federal agent, is a U.S. State Department-trained Arabic linguist and counterterrorism specialist who has held the U.S. government's highest security clearances.

Paul Sperry, a media fellow at Stanford University¹s Hoover Institution, is former Washington bureau chief for Investor's Business Daily, and author of Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 10 May 2010 13:39

The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB
Milton Bearden (Author), James Risen (Author)


Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Presidio Press (August 31, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345472500
ISBN-13: 978-0345472502
In essence the primary author, Milton Beardon, wrote the core of the book, on his experiences with the Soviet Division in the Directorate of Operations at the CIA, and in Afghanistan and Pakistan driving the Soviets in Afghanistan, and then journalist James Risen filled in the gaps with really excellent vignettes from the other side. The two authors together make a fine team, and they have very capably exploited a number of former KGB and GRU officers whose recollections round out the story.
This is not, by any means, a complete story. At the end of thise review I recommend five other books that add considerable detail to a confrontation that spanned the globe for a half-century. Yet, while it barely scratches the surface, this book is both historical and essential in understanding two facts:

1) Afghanistan was the beginning of the end for USSR and
2) CIA made it happen, once invigorated by President Ronald Reagan and DCI William Casey

It may not be immediately apparent to the casual reader, but that is the most important story being told in this book: how the collapse of the Soviet effort in Afghanistan ultimately led to the collapse of Soviet authority in East Germany, in the other satellite states, and eventually to the unification of Germany and the survival of Russas as a great state but no longer an evil empire.

There are two other stories in this book, and both are priceless. The first is a tale of counterintelligence failure across the board within both the CIA and the FBI. The author excels with many "insider" perspectives and quotes, ranging from his proper and brutal indictment of then DCI Stansfield Turner for destroying the clandestine service, to his quote from a subordinate, based on a real-world case, that even the Ghanians can penetrate this place. He has many "lessons learned" from the Howard and Ames situations, including how badly the CIA handled Howard's dismissal, how badly CIA handled Yuchenko, to include leaking his secrets to the press, how badly both CIA and FBI handled the surveillance on Howard, with too many "new guys" at critical points of failure; and most interestingly, how both DCI Casey and CIA counterintelligence chiefs Gus Hathaway (and his deputy Ted Price) refused to launch a serious hunt for Ames and specifically refused to authorize polygraphs across the board (although Ames beat a scheduled polygraph later). The author's accounting of the agent-by-agent losses suffered by the CIA as Howard, Ames, and Hansen took their toll, is absolutely gripping.

The second story is that of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and how the anti-Soviet jihad nurtured by America and Pakistan ultimately turned back on both countries.
It may help the reader of this book to first buy and read Milt Bearden's novel, "The Black Tulip," a wonderful and smoothly flowing account in novelized terms. From the primary author's point of view, it was Afghanistan, not Star Wars, that brought the Soviet Union to its knees. The primary author provides the reader with really superb descriptions of the seven key Afghan warlord leaders; of the intricacies of the Pakistani intelligence service, which had its own zealots, including one who launched jihad across in to Uzbeckistan without orders; into how the Stingers, and then anti-armor, and then extended mortars (with novel combinations of Geographical Information System computers and satellite provided coordinates for Soviet targets, all 21st century equipment that was quickly mastered by the Afghan warriors) all helped turn the tide. As America continues to fail in its quest to reconstruct the road of Afghanistan, having severely misunderstood the logistics and other obstacles, one of the book's sentences really leaps out: the supply chain to the rebels "needed more mules than the world was prepared to breed."

This book is a collector's item and must be in the library of anyone concerned with intelligence, US-Soviet relations, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Saudi funding of terrorism. It is a finely crafted personal contribution from someone who did hard time in the CIA, and made an enormous personal contribution, in partnership with the hundreds of CIA case officers, reports officers, all-source analysts, and especially CIA paramilitary officers (including Nick Pratt and Steve Cash, forever Marines).

krishna_j
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 68
Joined: 26 Dec 2008 11:43

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby krishna_j » 11 May 2010 00:15

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle
Dan Senor (Author)
# Hardcover: 320 pages
# Publisher: Twelve (November 4, 2009)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 044654146X
# ISBN-13: 978-0446541466
#Rs 699 from Reliance Digital ($ 26.99)

How does Israel—with fewer people than the state of New Jersey, no natural resources, and hostile nations all around—produce more tech companies listed on the NASDAQ than all of Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, and China combined? How does it produce, for its size, the most cutting-edge technology startups in the world?

book focuses on Israel's scientific and even more technological achievements. It speaks about the Israeli reaction to the Arab boycott, and the special situation of 'confinement' Israelis feel at not having normal access to neighboring countries. Israel is a very small country physically and thus many have a certain claustrophobic sense , especially those youngsters who have served in the Army. After the Army many young people adventurously use their new - found freedom.
Israelis have hooked into high- tech communications and rode on the wave of a world economy which is increasingly electronic.
The start- ups too come in part because of an encouraging government policy, which devotes a high proportion of funds to research. But they also come because Israelis are a people continually forced to find non- conventional answers to very difficult and unusual problems.


With the highest number of startups per capita of any nation in the world and massive venture capital investment, Israel is one of the world's entrepreneurship hubs. Senor and Singer track Israel's economic prowess using a number of factors, including the social networks and leadership training provided by Israel's mandatory military and reserve service, a culture of critique fostered by centuries of Jewish tradition and an open immigration policy for Jews that continually restocks Israel's population with motivated people from around the world—all of which foster a business climate in which risk is embraced and good ideas are given a chance to grow.

Plenty of take-aways for India and an amazing read

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 11 May 2010 06:04

Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia
by Francis Wheen (Author)




'If the 1960s were a wild weekend and the 1980s a hectic day at the office, the 1970s were a long Sunday evening in winter, with cold leftovers for supper and a power cut expected at any moment.' A jaw-droppingly brilliant account of how the seventies was defined by mass paranoia told with Francis Wheen's wonderfully acute sense of the absurd. The nostalgic whiff of the seventies evokes memories of loons and disco, Abba and Fawlty Towers. However, beneath the long hair it was really a theme park of mass paranoia. 'Strange Days Indeed' tells the story of the decade that a young Francis Wheen walked into having pronounced he was dropping out to join the alternative society. Instead of the optimistic dreams of the sixties he found a world on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown, huddled over candles waiting for the next terrorist bomb, kidnapping or food shortage warning. Whether it was Nixon's demented behaviour in the White House, Harold Wilson's insistence that 'they' (whoever 'they' were) were out to get him, or the trial of Rupert Bear, it is a story almost too fantastical to be true. With his brilliantly acute sense of the absurd Francis Wheen slices through the pungent melange of mistrust and conspiratorial fever to expose the sickly form of a decade in which nations were brought to a sclerotic halt by power cuts, military coups, economic anarchy and the arrival of Uri Geller. Since the Great Crash of our generation barely a week passes without some allusion to that distant decade. As we are consumed by the heady stench of our own collective meltdown, there is no better guide than Francis Wheen to shine his Swiftian light on the true nature of the era that has returned to haunt us. Amidst the chaos 'Strange Days Indeed' is an hilarious and jaw-droppingly revealing chronicle of the golden age of the paranoid style.

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 12 May 2010 08:45

On Thermonuclear War
Herman Kahn (Author)


Paperback: 668 pages
Publisher: Transaction Publishers (July 17, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 141280664X
ISBN-13: 978-1412806640
Herman Kahn has had many epithets hurled at him in his day. It is even rumored that Stanley Kubrick based his Dr. Strangelove character after him.

But the truth is he does a job someone has to do when countries possess nuclear weapons.

In this book Kahn discusses the unthinkable: how would a nuclear war be fought and what would be the consequences. He does this in the only way it can be done-in a dispassionate way. He asks such questions as to whether civilization can survive a nuclear war and if so how long it would take for it to recover.

His conclusion based on the facts and technology of the time he wrote the book (1962) was that nuclear war was winnable. Detractors of the book saw it as advocating nuclear war which is far from the truth. How easy it is to shoot the messenger.

From many accounts of Kahn the man he was far from bloodless and he was in fact optimistic about the future.

As one reads this book one enters into the mind of a great thinker. He was a highly logical man who dared to take on a problem others saw as taboo. Some may not like the way he deals with the subject but as long as we possess nuclear weapons the problems and all of their ramifications must be considered.
"On Thermonuclear War" was controversial when originally published and remains so today. It is iconoclastic, crosses disciplinary boundaries, and finally it is calm and compellingly reasonable. The book was widely read on both sides of the Iron Curtain and the result was serious revision in both Western and Soviet strategy and doctrine. As a result, both sides were better able to avoid disaster during the Cold War. The strategic concepts still apply: defense, local animosities, and the usual balance-of-power issues are still very much with us. Kahn's stated purpose in writing this book was simply: "avoiding disaster and buying time, without specifying the use of this time." By the late 1950s, with both sides H-bomb-armed, reason and time were in short supply. Kahn, a military analyst at Rand since 1948, understood that a defense based only on thermonuclear armaments was inconceivable, morally questionable, and not credible. The book was the first to make sense of nuclear weapons. Originally created from a series of lectures, it provides insight into how policymakers consider such issues. One may agree with Kahn or disagree with him on specific issues, but he clearly defined the terrain of the argument. He also looks at other weapons of mass destruction such as biological and chemical, and the history of their use. The Cold War is over, but the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, and the lessons and principles developed in "On Thermonuclear War" apply as much to today's China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea as they did to the Soviets.


ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 17 May 2010 03:55

Strategy without Design: The Silent Efficacy of Indirect Action By Robert C. H. Chia, Robin Holt
Publisher: Cambridge University Press 2009 | 260 Pages


Strategy exhibits a pervasive commitment to the belief that the best approach to adopt in dealing with affairs of the world is to confront, overcome and subjugate things to conform to our will, control and eventual mastery. Performance is about sustaining distinctiveness. This direct and deliberate approach draws inspiration from ancient Greek roots and has become orthodoxy. Yet there are downsides. This book shows why. Using examples from the world of business, economics, military strategy, politics and philosophy, it argues that success may inadvertently emerge from the everyday coping actions of a multitude of individuals, none of whom intended to contribute to any preconceived design. A consequence of this claim is that a paradox exists in strategic interventions, one that no strategist can afford to ignore. The more single-mindedly a strategic goal is sought, the more likely such calculated instrumental action eventually works to undermine its own initial success.


However Strategy without design is the most likely the Indian way.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 24 May 2010 00:21

Robert Hoyland, "Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam (Ancient Peoples)"
Publisher: Routledge | 2001 | ISBN 0415195349 | 337 pages |

Knowledge of pre-Islam Arabia is essential for anyone seeking to understand how Islam arose and the shape it took. Further, knowledge of the cultures, commerce, and conflicts of the Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Muhammed is fatally incomplete without the inclusion of the Arabs and the vital role they played. Arabia and the Arabs provides the only up-to-date, one volume survey of the region and its peoples during this period.
Using a wide range of sources--inscriptions, poetry, histories, and archaeological evidence--Robert Hoyland explores the main cultural areas of Arabia, from ancient Sheba in the south, to the desert oases of the north. He meticulously traces the major themes in the:
*economy
*society
*religion
*art and architecture
*language and literature
*Arabhood and Arabisation.
The text is supplemented by over 50 photographs, drawings, and maps.


Its an important book to understand Islam and how Arabs lost control soon after

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 31 May 2010 09:01

Book Reviews - Asia Policy 10
William Schabas, Donald E. Weatherbee, Russell Leigh Moses, Jonathan Fenby, Tobias Harris, Pradeep Taneja and C. Raja Mohan

Is Asia the Last Bastion of Capital Punishment?
William Schabas

A review of The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia by David T. Johnson and Franklin E. Zimring.

ASEAN: Where Process Has Priority
Donald E. Weatherbee

A review of (Re)Negotiating East and Southeast Asia: Region, Regionalism, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by Alice D. Ba.

Confusing Confucius in Contemporary China
Russell Leigh Moses
A review of China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society by Daniel A. Bell.

A Stimulating Analysis of China Present—and Past
Jonathan Fenby
A review of Rising China and Its Postmodern Fate: Memories of Empire in a New Global Context by Charles Horner.

Is It Too Late to Save Japan?
Tobias Harris
A review of Japan’s Open Future: An Agenda for Global Citizenship by John Haffner, Tomas Casas i Klett, and Jean-Pierre Lehmann.

Explaining the Longevity of India’s Open Economic Policy
Pradeep Taneja
A review of India’s Open-Economy Policy: Globalism, Rivalry, Continuity by Jalal Alamgir

The United States and Kashmir: When Less Is More
C. Raja Mohan
A review of The Limits of Influence: America’s Role in Kashmir by Howard B. Schaffer.

http://www.nbr.org/publications/asia_policy/AP10/AP10_I_Reviews.pdf

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 31 May 2010 22:19

Ali Anooshahr - The Ghazi Sultans and the Frontiers of Islam
Publisher: Routledge | 2008-11-12 | ISBN: 0415463602 | 208 pages |

The Ghazi Sultans were frontier holy-warrior kings of late medieval and early modern Islamic history. This book is a comparative study of three particular Ghazis in the Muslim world at that time, demonstrating the extent to which these men were influenced by the actions and writings of their predecessors in shaping strategy and the way in which they saw themselves.Using a broad range of Persian, Arabic and Turkish texts, the author offers new findings in the history of memory and self-fashioning, demonstrating thereby the value of intertextual approaches to historical and literary studies. The three main themes explored include the formation of the ideal of the Ghazi king in the eleventh century, the imitation thereof in fifteenth and early sixteenth century Anatolia and India, and the process of transmission of the relevant texts. By focusing on the philosophical questions of 'becoming' and 'modelling', Anooshahr has sought alternatives to historiographic approaches that only find facts, ideology, and legitimization in these texts.This book will be of interest to scholars specialising in Medieval and early modern Islamic history, Islamic literature, and the history of religion.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 01 Jun 2010 00:39

Two books:

Roy Frieden, Robert A. Gatenby, "Exploratory Data Analysis Using Fisher Information"
Springer | 2006 | ISBN: 1846285062 | 363 pages |

The basic goal of a research scientist is to understand a given, unknown system. This innovative book develops a systematic approach for achieving this goal. All science is ultimately dependent upon observation which, in turn, requires a flow of information. Fisher information, in particular, is found to provide the key to understanding the system. It is developed as a new tool of exploratory data analysis, and is applied to a wide scope of systems problems. These range from molecules in a gas to biological organisms in their ecologies, to the socio-economic organization of people in their societies, to the physical constants in the universe and, ultimately, to proto-universes in the multiverse.

Examples of system input-output laws discovered by the approach include the famous quarter-power laws of biology and the Tobin q-theory of optimized economic investment. System likelihood laws that can be determined include the probability density functions defining in situ cancer growth and a wide class of systems (thermodynamic, economic, cryptographic) obeying Schrodinger-like equations. Novel uncertainty principles in the fields of biology and economics are also found to hold.

B. Roy Frieden and Robert A. Gatenby are professors at the University of Arizona. Frieden is in the College of Optics, and Gatenby is Chairman of the Radiology Dept. at the Arizona Health Sciences Center. Frieden has pioneered the use of information for developing image restoration approaches, and for understanding the physics of unknown systems, both nonliving and living. Gatenby has actively promoted the study of information as a determinant of healthy and malignant growth processes, and has developed integrated mathematical models and empirical techniques for this purpose.


and

Anybody know Russian?

Image

Link:
http://rapidshare.com/files/392859486/D ... a_djvu.rar

The book is written in 1997 and yet has lots of pictures about Indus civilization.

Dont know the text but is worth the pictures.

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 01 Jun 2010 05:07


Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance
~ Nouriel Roubini (Author), Stephen Mihm (Author)


Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (May 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594202508
ISBN-13: 978-1594202506
Nouriel Roubini gained great notoriety as one of the few economists who correctly predicted our current financial crisis, specifically pointing to the 90 percent increase in home prices from 1997 to 2006. While Roubini has written other books, "Crisis Economics" is his first foray into economic literature aimed at the mass market and serves to expound on his argument that most financial bubbles are not only predictable, but avoidable. To borrow a phrase from Nassim Taleb, these are not unpredictable "black swan" events, but can be forecasted with some degree of probability. The authors aptly point out the difficulty in defusing bubbles as they inflate as no one within the financial markets or the regulatory structure typically wants to take the punchbowl away from the party. As bubbles inflate they typically open the door for schemers and opportunists who become the inevitable scapegoats for the inevitable crisis, conveniently deflecting criticism from those who deserve it. Worse still there's little accountability in either the public or private sector for those who should have known the bubble was over-inflated and took no corrective measures to stop it. What compounds the problem this time is governments are re-leveraging the system by taking on massive debt to prop up the private sector, leaving them vulnerable and unable to respond when the next crisis inevitably comes. Worse still, these "balance-sheet" crises hobble government finances resulting in anemic recoveries that drag on as happened in Japan in the 1990s. And for all the talk of the private sector de-leveraging there's little real proof that's occurring and instead it appears to be stabilizing at unsustainably high levels, setting the stage for the next liquidity crisis.

The authors look over economic history and point out a well reasoned argument, namely that economic collapses are both likely to occur and are predictable. They are not freakish, unforeseen occurrences, but oncoming events whose warning signs are ignored by policy makers, executives, and politicians. Even recent history proves this to be correct, pointing out crises limited to specific countries over the past few decades (Thailand, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia, etc) that have led to more large scale economic problems. By now you'd be inclined to feel that Roubini truly is living up to his "Dr. Doom" nickname, but he is hardly finished. The authors roundly criticize the current tendency to socialize losses and privatize gains and calls on governments to do more to break up too-big-to-fail institutions before they do fail, as the temptation to bail them out when they do fail (and they will) will prove irresistible for policy makers and politicians alike. The sad reality is that policy makers have not yet learned their lessons and are tinkering at the margins when a more massive overhaul is required. While keeping interest rates near zero percent has kept the economy from totally collapsing it is unsustainable and new bubbles are appearing in the form of commodities prices, which have surged greatly in price.

But the authors do offer ways in which policy makers, executives, and politicians can get out of our current situation and avoid recurrences. Sadly they are not easy or palatable situations, and its all to easy for all three groups to ignore taking hard steps to reign in economic growth during robust growth periods. And that's the problem. Societies are predicated on growth and expansion. We detest the idea of tamping down economic growth as it is so contrarian, yet that's what essential. Thankfully Roubini and Mihm make economics and finance relatable and easy to understand, yet without dumbing it down significantly. As academics both write with a flair and élan uncommon in economics, yet they certainly do tend to get readers to despair at times. Their solutions seem reasonable; one can only hope that policy makers, executives, and politicians would not only read this but find the will to actually do what is necessary to prevent the next crisis.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 13 Jun 2010 08:05

THE ICARUS SYNDROME: A History of American Hubris

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/books/review/Gelb-t.html

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 13 Jun 2010 08:16

THE GHOSTS OF MARTYRS SQUARE
An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/books/review/LeBor-t.html

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 13 Jun 2010 21:15

James Wynbrandt, "A Brief History of Saudi Arabia, Second Edition"

Facts On File | 2010 | ISBN: 0816078769 | 364 pages |

Saudi Arabia is a country in transition, slowly but steadily changing from within and increasingly flexing its muscle and influence regionally. The country has entered the new century as a pivotal regional power. As the birthplace of Islam, it remains a powerful moral leader of the Muslim world, particularly the Arab arena. Its response to domestic terrorism has shown that the monarchy has the drive to confront destabilizing elements within its borders and the increasing value of its oil has provided financial and political security at home. Yet Saudi Arabia still faces the challenges of unemployment for many of its citizens, and its education system makes it difficult for Saudi youth to compete in the global market. While the country held its first elections in history in 2005, the war in Iraq has deepened the divide between Sunni and Shiite policies.

From Saudi Arabia's pre-Islamic history to the events of today, A Brief History of Saudi Arabia, Second Edition offers a balanced, informative perspective on the country's long history. Complete with black-and-white illustrations, maps, charts, a chronology, and basic facts, this comprehensive overview of the history of Saudi Arabia places the political, economic, and cultural events of today into a broad historical context.


Coverage includes:
The death of King Fahd in 2005, bringing Abdullah to the throne and ushering in an era of new policies and practices
The first elections held within the kingdom
The effects of the U.S.-led war in Iraq
Dramatic rise in oil prices that reversed the economic doldrums of the late 1990s
Major educational reforms (the impact of which have been debated)
Increased efforts to win more rights for women, Shiites, and minorities
The internal war against home-grown terrorism
Strained U.S.-Saudi relations as a result of U.S. disengagement from the Mideast peace

rohitvats
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 7571
Joined: 08 Sep 2005 18:24
Location: Jatland

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby rohitvats » 13 Jun 2010 22:45

Narendra Singh Sarila's book - The Shadow of the Great Game : The Untold Story of Indias Partition by Narendra Singh Sarila, is now available in paperback edition in desh - at far lesser price than the earlier hardcover version. Every Indian interested in the history of partition of Motherland should read this - it lays bare the shenanigans of the British, their motives and the perfidy of the Muslim League.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 18 Jun 2010 23:15

Will Durant, "The Lessons of History"
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | 1968 | ISBN 0671413333 | 113 pages |
In this illuminating and thoughtful book, Will and Ariel Durant have succeeded in distilling for the reader the accumulated store of knowledge and experience from their four decades of work on the ten monumental volumes of The Story of Civilization. The result is a survey of human history, full of dazzling insights into the nature of human experience, the evolution of civilization, the culture of man. With the completion of their life's work they look back and ask what history has to say about the nature, the conduct and the prospects of man, seeking in the great lives, the great ideas, the great events of the past for the meaning of man's long journey through war, conquest and creation -- and for the great themes that can help us to understand our own era.
To the Durants, history is "not merely a warning reminder of man's follies and crimes, but also an encouraging remembrance of generative souls...a spacious country of the mind, wherein a thousand saints, statesmen, inventors, scientists, poets, artists, musicians, lovers, and philosophers still live and speak, teach and carve and sing...."
Designed to accompany the ten-volume set of The Story of Civilization, The Lessons of History is, in its own right, a profound and original work of history and philosophy.

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 19 Jun 2010 03:51

The History of White People
Nell Irvin Painter (Author)

Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1St Edition edition (March 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0393049345
ISBN-13: 978-0393049343




Who are white people and where did they come from? Elementary questions with elusive, contradictory, and complicated answers set historian Painter's inquiry into motion. From notions of whiteness in Greek literature to the changing nature of white identity in direct response to Malcolm X and his black power successors, Painter's wide-ranging response is a who's who of racial thinkers and a synoptic guide to their work. Her commodious history of an idea accommodates Caesar; Saint Patrick, history's most famous British slave of the early medieval period; Madame de Staël; and Emerson, the philosopher king of American white race theory. Painter (Sojourner Truth) reviews the diverse cast in their intellectual milieus, linking them to one another across time and language barriers. Conceptions of beauty (ideals of white beauty [became] firmly embedded in the science of race), social science research, and persistent North/South stereotypes prove relevant to defining whiteness. What we can see, the author observes, depends heavily on what our culture has trained us to look for. For the variable, changing, and often capricious definition of whiteness, Painter offers a kaleidoscopic lens.

Her latest selection examines the history of “whiteness” as a racial category and rhetorical weapon: who is considered to be “white,” who is not, what such distinctions mean, and how notions of whiteness have morphed over time in response to shifting demographics, aesthetic tastes, and political exigencies. After a brief look at how the ancients conceptualized the differences between European peoples, Painter focuses primarily on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There, the artistic idealization of beautiful white slaves from the Caucasus combined with German Romantic racial theories and lots of spurious science to construct an ideology of white superiority which, picked up by Ralph Waldo Emerson and other race-obsessed American intellectuals, quickly became an essential component of the nation’s uniquely racialized discourse about who could be considered an American.

The book's best sections deal with the development of racial attitudes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Europeans, seeing themselves newly dominant over the rest of the world, attempted to find some biological rationale for their preeminence. Painter's descriptions of the bizarre "scientific" theories dealing with hair texture, skull sizes and shapes, height, and so on would be laughably absurd if those same theories had not led to the development of eugenics in the late nineteenth century. In turn eugenics in the twentieth century led to forceable sterilization of the "unfit" and other horrors, culminating in the Holocaust.


Painter writes well, with an occasional wry grimace and shake of the head. Her last chapter is one of the best, for here she gives a summary of the current state of "whiteness" in a world where DNA analysis and the mapping of the human genome have so muddied the waters that one wishes J.F. Blumenbach, William Z. Ripley, and other "scientists" who tried so hard to identify one race as superior to all others could be alive to see their work brought to naught.

At first blush readers may be a bit off-put at a black woman writing a history of white people and the usual questions are likely to arise. But as a historian it is Nell Irvin Painter's job to transcend identities such as race and gender and to remain objective about her subject matter. There are many compelling arguments about the relative pros and cons of writing about a part of your identity or about an identity other than your own. Those arguments aside, Painter sets an ambitious goal of writing a history on the construct of the white race; the who, what, where, when, why and how of its origins, its evolution and change over time, and its greater societal significance and meaning to our present day and age. Rather than an angry diatribe against racism Painter seeks to provide a narrative of the evolution of white identity.

Painter begins in antiquity, a time in which race was not important so much as place; where you were from, a time of social hierarchy and class more so than racial consciousness. The disturbing truth is that class served more to define one's status and place than ethnicity or race for many centuries. Slavery, the great sin of any age, was racially colorblind in antiquity, and even in colonial America it was initially colorblind if indentured servitude is included. Painter guides readers through the evolution and construct of whiteness leading up to the harsh realities of the 19th Century, a time where whiteness took on further nuances, differences, and distinctions owing to increased immigration. It was a time when the Irish, Italians, Jews, and "others" were denigrated for their otherness; for not fitting the Anglo-Saxon ideal of whiteness. These ideas and concepts linger in American consciousness and inform public policy and public opinion for nearly a century, resulting in some of the most egregious sins of the republic, including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the exclusion of Asians from immigration, anti-Semitism and more. By the time of the Civil Rights Movement whites felt increasingly under attack, becoming the "other" in their own society. If Malcolm X and James Brown could exhort blacks to proclaim "Say it loud! I'm black and proud!" then why couldn't whites revel in their own racial pride? And here's where it gets interesting. Painter's argument is that a nation, founded by slaveholders with justification for its class system based upon the inherent inferiority of black people a foundational belief, must reach some form of reassessment of what it should be once slavery has ended. That process has hot yet fully occurred in the United States and until such a time remains unfinished business for us to move forward.

The end result is thought-provoking, certainly controversial, and more into the realm of history of ideas than most lay people will be comfortable with. Many will undoubtedly be offended by what Painter has to say, but her point is not to provide a hagiography of a race, but to examine the larger meanings of what race is, what it means, and how it shapes us as a people and a society. The results are meant to be unsettling and to initiate further thought, contemplation and introspection. To that end Painter succeeds wonderfully. This is meant to be a challenging and polarizing book and quite honestly those who make it through will be rewarded for it. Undoubtedly many will find points to contend and debate, but they will miss the larger argument.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 23 Jun 2010 07:14

Eugene F. Irschick, "Dialogue and History: Constructing South India, 1795-1895"
Publisher: University of California Press | 1994 | ISBN 0520084055 | 114 pages |



Eugene Irschick deftly questions the conventional wisdom that knowledge about a colonial culture is unilaterally defined by its rulers. Focusing on nineteenth-century South India, he demonstrates that a society's view of its history results from a "dialogic process" involving all its constituencies.
For centuries, agricultural life in South India was seminomadic. But when the British took dominion, they sought to stabilize the region by inventing a Tamil "golden age" of sedentary, prosperous villages. Irschick shows that this construction resulted not from overt British manipulation but from an intricate cross-pollination of both European and native ideas. He argues that the Tamil played a critical role in constructing their past and thus shaping their future. And British administrators adapted local customs to their own uses.


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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 03 Jul 2010 21:59

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention
William Rosen (Author)

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Random House (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400067057
ISBN-13: 978-1400067053


The Industrial Revolution inspires more academic theories than absorbing narratives. Rosen, however, crafts one from subplots that connect with primitive industrialism�s premier symbol: the steam engine. Ardent about historical technology, Rosen modulates his mechanical zeal with contexts underscoring that Thomas Newcomen and James Watt did not operate in a social vacuum. Fixing on patents as one prerequisite to their inventions, Rosen describes intellectual property�s English legal and philosophical origins as he segues to Newcomen�s and Watt�s backgrounds. A degree of social mobility in eighteenth-century Britain enabled their rise, but it was the specific economic situations in mining and textiles to which they responded that ensured it. These business matters provide Rosen with storytelling opportunities that feature capital investors, scientists studying heat, and over time, innovators who improved the steam engine from a stationary to a mobile power source: Rocket, the famous railroad engine built in 1829. Readers who like enthused authors will like Rosen, and fans of his Roman history Justinian�s Flea (2007) augment their number. --Gilbert Taylor

If all measures of human advancement in the last hundred centuries were plotted on a graph, they would show an almost perfectly flat line—until the eighteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution would cause the line to shoot straight up, beginning an almost uninterrupted march of progress.

In The Most Powerful Idea in the World, William Rosen tells the story of the men responsible for the Industrial Revolution and the machine that drove it—the steam engine. In the process he tackles the question that has obsessed historians ever since: What made eighteenth-century Britain such fertile soil for inventors? Rosen’s answer focuses on a simple notion that had become enshrined in British law the century before: that people had the right to own and profit from their ideas.

The amount of information contained in this book is truly astounding. Just about every aspect of inventing that one can imagine is touched upon here, at least to some degree. These include but are not limited to: legal issues, social and political matters, psychology, even religion and philosophy. The reader is also introduced to a myriad of people who have contributed, in some way or other, to the Industrial Revolution. The most significant invention that is followed throughout is the steam engine. But many other inventions are also discussed such as: devices to address certain mining problems, making various types of iron, collecting and processing cotton and silk, various devices to improve upon prior inventions, etc. The amount of information contained in this book is truly encyclopaedic; the author's efforts in putting it all together must have been astronomical.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 04 Jul 2010 02:37

Common Knowledge: How Companies Thrive by Sharing What They Know
Harvard Business Press | 2000 | ISBN: 0875849040 | 188 pages |


Breakthrough Research on Knowledge Transfer Reveals Five Proven Methods for Making Knowledge Sharing a Reality-Which are Right for Your Company?

While external knowledge-about customers, about competitors-is critical, it rarely provides a competitive edge for companies because such information is equally available to everyone. But internal "know-how" that is unique to a specific company-how to introduce a new drug into the diabetes market, how to decrease assembly time in an automobile plant-is the stuff of which sustained competitive advantage is made.

Nancy Dixon, an expert in the field of organizational learning, calls this knowledge borne of experience "common knowledge," and argues that in order to get beyond talking about knowledge management to actually doing it, companies must first recognize that all knowledge is not created-and therefore can't be shared-equally.

Creating successful knowledge transfer systems, Dixon argues, requires matching the type of knowledge to be shared to the method best suited for transferring it effectively. Based on an in-depth study of several organizations-including Ernst & Young, Bechtel, Ford, Chevron, British Petroleum, Texas Instruments, and the U.S. Army-that are leading the field in successful knowledge transfer, Common Knowledge reveals groundbreaking insights into how organizational knowledge is created, how it can be effectively shared-and why transfer systems work when they do.

Until now, most organizations have had to rely on costly "trial and error" to find a knowledge transfer system that works for them. Dixon helps managers take the guesswork out of this process by outlining three criteria that must be considered in order to determine how a transfer method will work in a specific situation: the type of knowledge to be transferred, the nature of the task, and who the receiver of that knowledge will be. Drawing from the successful-but very different-practices of the companies in her study and providing compelling illustrative stories based on the experiences of real managers, Dixon distills five distinct categories of knowledge transfer, explains the principles that make each of them work, and helps managers determine which of these systems would be most effective in their own organizations.

Common Knowledge gets to the heart of one of the most difficult questions in knowledge transfer today: What makes a system work effectively in one organization but fail miserably in another? Going beyond "one-size-fits-all" approaches and simple generalities like upper management involvement and cultural issues, this important book will help organizations of every kind construct knowledge transfer systems tailored to their unique forms of "common knowledge"-and in the process create the best kind of competitive advantage there is: the kind that can't be copied.


We in BR try to have our own way of Knowledge transfer and I wanted folks to be at least familiar with the process.

SSridhar
Forum Moderator
Posts: 22947
Joined: 05 May 2001 11:31
Location: Chennai

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby SSridhar » 04 Jul 2010 11:00

I am posting a review from DAWN

Shadow War: The untold story of jihad in Kashmir
(militancy)

By Arif Jamal
Melville House, New York
ISBN 978-1-933633-59-6
352pp. Rs2,290 :shock: {Eventhough it is PNR, the price is still steep}

Pakistan has been lucky to benefit from a rich heritage of probing journalism that delves into the murky geopolitical waters that fuel instability in our country. Arif Jamal certainly fits into that category, as demonstrated by his latest work Shadow War.

A labour of several years and not inconsiderable personal risk, the book traces the modern history of the Kashmir conflict, starting from its roots in British India and the partition of India and Pakistan and the subsequent escalation of militancy under the shadow of continued oppression.

At its heart, however, the book is an exposé of Pakistan’s secret war against India, ostensibly focused on Kashmir. Jamal pulls no punches in this book, delivering in the process a revealing portrait of the devastating impact Pakistan’s clandestine Kashmir policy has had on regional stability and prospects for a peaceful move towards greater freedom for Kashmiris.

He argues that, for Pakistan, the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan was the great trigger of everything that happened afterwards.

Military planners in Rawalpindi always meant the Afghan conflict to be an incubus for a new form of war they felt Pakistan must develop because past conventional military attempts had failed to wrest Kashmir from Indian hands.

Although Kashmiris themselves had long before taken to armed insurrection against Indian rule, and not without significant help from Pakistan, the secular character of their revolt was undermined by Pakistan’s military establishment and its Islamist allies including the Jamaat-i-Islami.

To that end, US funds earmarked for the war in Afghanistan were channelled to Kashmiri militants. Although the September 11 attacks on the US may have forced Pakistan to re-evaluate its tactics, Jamal says that Pakistan decided to temper its support for militants fighting in Kashmir rather than terminate the relationship altogether.

Shadow War is required reading for anyone looking for a concise but detailed account of the Kashmir conflict, India and Pakistan’s cynical manipulation of Kashmiri aspirations, and the dangerous if far from inexorable shift in Pakistan’s support from secular Kashmiri freedom fighters to the Islamists.


There is an interview with the author which I have posted in the TSP thread.

abhishek_sharma
BRF Oldie
Posts: 9657
Joined: 19 Nov 2009 03:27

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby abhishek_sharma » 04 Jul 2010 11:19

^^ I have read this book. It is okay, but for members of this forum, there is nothing new.

JE Menon
Forum Moderator
Posts: 6975
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby JE Menon » 04 Jul 2010 12:35

Correct. There are details and a bit of the ins and outs of the whole process which we will be better informed about, but on the whole nothing that will open our eyes any further. Good reference material though.

satyam
BRFite
Posts: 224
Joined: 15 Jun 2010 01:07

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby satyam » 04 Jul 2010 18:07

Govt bans book that says Nehru-Gandhis family of ‘half-castes’

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt- ... es/641992/

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 08 Jul 2010 09:53

James A. Millward, "Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang"
Publisher: Columbia University Press | 2007 | ISBN 0231139241 | 352 pages |
Eurasian Crossroads is the first comprehensive history of Xinjiang, the vast central Eurasian region bordering India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Mongolia. Forming one-sixth of the People's Republic of China (PRC), Xinjiang stands at the crossroads between China, India, the Mediterranean, and Russia and has, since the Bronze Age, played a pivotal role in the social, cultural, and political development of Asia and the world. Xinjiang was once the hub of the Silk Road and the conduit through which Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam entered China. It was also the point at which the Chinese, Turkic, Tibetan, and Mongolian empires communicated and struggled with one another. Xinjiang's population comprises Kazakhs, Kirghiz, and Uighurs, all Turkic Muslim peoples, as well as Han Chinese, and competing Chinese and Turkic nationalist visions continue to threaten the region's political and economic stability. Besides separatist concerns, Xinjiang's energy resources, strategic position, and rapid development have gained it international attention in recent decades. Drawing on primary sources in several Asian and European languages, James Millward presents a thorough study of Xinjiang's history and people from antiquity to the present and takes a balanced look at the position of Turkic Muslims within the PRC today. While offering fresh material and perspectives for specialists, this engaging survey of Xinjiang's rich environmental, cultural, and ethno-political heritage is also written for travelers, students, and anyone eager to learn about this vital connector between East and West.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 50415
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ramana » 08 Jul 2010 10:03

A book on East vs West

Worlds at War Anthony Pagden, UCLA

March 26, 2008
Books of The Times
Two Views of Life, Enduring, Unyielding
By WILLIAM GRIMES

WORLDS AT WAR

The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West


By Anthony Pagden

Illustrated. 625 pages. Random House. $35.

If nothing else, the struggle between East and West has a distinguished pedigree. In “Worlds at War” the British historian Anthony Pagden traces the seemingly endless series of misunderstandings and armed conflicts between “an ever-shifting West and equally amorphous East” to the time of myth, when Paris abducted Helen, provoking the Trojan War.

With the passage of centuries, boundaries shifted, tribes and peoples replaced one another, new religions appeared, empires rose and fell. Yet a remarkably constant theme asserted itself: the irreconcilable differences between two competing views of the world, memorably expressed by Herodotus in his history of the struggles between the Greeks and the Persians, which pivoted not on politics but on “an understanding of what it was to be and to live like a human being.”

The Greeks subscribed, broadly, to “an individualistic view of humanity.” The Persians displayed courage and ferocity on the battlefield but as a society, Mr. Pagden writes, paraphrasing Herodotus, they were “craven, slavish, reverential and parochial, incapable of individual initiative, a horde rather than a people.”

{Roots of Orientalism!}

The Western mission, defined by Alexander the Great, was to civilize the known world through conquest, a project later taken up by Rome, by the Crusaders, by Napoleon, by the imperial powers in the 19th century and, some might argue, by the United States in the 21st century. In Islam the East discovered its own universal mission and set about subjugating the West, propelled, to borrow Cicero’s words about Rome, by its “wise grasp of a single truth.”

Having set the stage with great deliberation, Mr. Pagden takes a majestic stroll through the centuries, covering broad swaths of very familiar history fluently, gracefully and always entertainingly, but in the end he delivers a lot less than he promises. Like an overproduced Hollywood epic, the drama unfolds with strong starring roles, lavish costumes and beautifully photographed scenery; when the credits finally roll, though, the audience is left wondering what, exactly, all the fuss was about.

Mr. Pagden, the author of “Peoples and Empires” and “European Encounters With the New World,” embeds a few basic points about Eastern and Western political cultures in a great mass of historical material, then appends a polemical coda arguing against the idea that Western beliefs about freedom, democracy and secularism can ever be transplanted to the Middle East. He is shrewd, urbane and consistently engaging, but the ratio of effort expended to results achieved seems badly askew.

One of Mr. Pagden’s more arresting observations deals with the Crusades, and the drastic differences in historical memory between West and East. When a writer like Sayyid Qutb, an ideological founding father of radical Islam, referred to “the Crusader spirit that all Westerners carry in their blood,” the characterization seems far-fetched and arcane to most Westerners.

Not to Muslims. “The present is linked to the past by a continuous and still unfulfilled narrative, the story of the struggle against the ‘Infidel’ for the ultimate Muslim conquest of the entire world,” Mr. Pagden writes.

The civilizing missions of the West come in for acerbic commentary, notably Napoleon’s misbegotten Egyptian campaign, which Mr. Pagden cites as a dress rehearsal for later disasters, right up to the present. Napoleon arrived with his fleet at Alexandria, flamboyantly proclaiming a new era of civil rights and human dignity, and keen to show how the principles of revolutionary France dovetailed with the teachings of the Koran. The experiment failed.

As for Napoleon’s expressed reverence for Islam’s holiest text, a member of the Divan, or Imperial Council, in Cairo wrote, “To respect the Koran means to glorify it, and one glorifies it only by believing in what it contains.”

[]i{Note to modern West!}[/i]

For their part, the French marveled at the indolence and backwardness of the Egyptians. They brought back to the West an image of the Muslim East as “a land rotting in despotic lethargy, constrained by a simple and savage religion that denied half of its peoples their humanity and in so doing prevented any possibility of progress and enlightenment.”

Two centuries later Mr. Pagden sees little prospect of progress or enlightenment, not as long as religion determines the shape of civil society in the Islamic world. Like the Greeks and the Persians, the countries of the West and the Islamic East stare unblinking across a great divide, their notions of citizenship and political life irrevocably opposed.

“The society of Islam is ultimately based not upon human volition or upon contract but upon divine decree,” Mr. Pagden writes. “In the societies of the West, by contrast, every aspect of life has been conceived as a question of human choice.” Never the twain shall meet.

Mr. Pagden is scathing about the idea that moderate voices might prevail, since the very notion of moderation appeals primarily to one side in the argument. “Who says that tolerance, dialogue and understanding are virtues?” he asks. “The answer is invariably: secular Westerners.”

So here we are, after 2,500 years, back in the same place. On one side stand the liberal democracies of the West, convinced that their Enlightenment values and political ideas apply to all peoples everywhere. On the other side, a restless and aggrieved Islamic world defines itself as a vast community of faith, its members convinced that their beliefs, too, are universal. It may take another 2,500 years to sort this out.



The reality is that the West got its values of Enlightenment only after the Reoframtion etc or else it would have been the same as the Islamic world. In fact Pagden cites early French scholars who tried to "sieve the Koran" and found its core consisting of oldtime Christianity!

ManuT
BRFite
Posts: 597
Joined: 22 Apr 2005 23:50

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby ManuT » 10 Jul 2010 08:37

In light of the recent almost comical misadventures of the Russian spy network, putting a link about the bygone, Soivet Military Intelligence (GRU).

http://militera.lib.ru/research/suvorov8/index.html

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 12 Jul 2010 14:34

The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century
Stefan Halper (Author)



Hardcover: 312 pages
Publisher: Basic Books (April 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0465013619
ISBN-13: 978-0465013616
Stefan Halper's "The Beijing Consensus" summarizes how China's ('The People's Republic of China' - PRC) non-confrontational strategies are changing the world order. For decades the U.S. used its military and economic strength to leverage developing countries into economic and government reform. This worked fine, as long as we were the only game in town. The PRC, however, has now entered the arena and provides a welcome non-judgmental alternative to many struggling nations. This new approach to foreign aid, combined with admiration for China's economic success, is boosting its world influence, as well as access to energy and other natural resources. Meanwhile, China's autocratic leadership is now setting the foundation for future economic successes, and shows no sign of liberalizing; ironically, U.S. economic progress seems hindered by its vaunted democratic processes.

Some Americans have fixated on growing PRC expenditures, now second largest in the world, for modernizing its military. Halper believes this should not be a concern. China is avoiding direct confrontation with the U.S., even though it remains committed to re-unification with Taiwan and the U.S. to preservation of Taiwan's defense. The first reason to not worry is that China does not want the budgetary strain of a military arms race with the U.S., nor the foreign policy atmospherics that would result. Halper sees China's modernizing military as simply motivated via 'just-in-case' Americans get too aggressive, and centers on high-tech, close-in defensive weapons. Halper's second reason for discounting a military threat from the PRC is that Taiwan is no longer the flash-point it once was. The is due to China's confidence that re-unification is inevitable, and its willingness to wait. Meanwhile, trade between the two was $108 billion in 2007 (up 16% from 2006), over one million Taiwanese now live and work in the PRC, contacts have increased through regular mail and commercial flights between the two, and China's economic successes have made it more attractive to those living on Taiwan.

Halper, however, is very much concerned about China's growing soft power. Per Harvard's Joseph Nye, when competing for influence "It's not whose Army wins, it's whose story wins." China sees foreign aid as an important part of the contest of stories. Nations clamoring for aid during the latter half of the 20th-century had little choice other than the U.S. led World Bank and the IMF. However, both soon demonstrated a lack of ability to reliably help other nations, sometimes causing more harm than good. Reasons included their numerous ideological 'one-size-fits-all' economic requirements that assumed recipient nations had strong domestic industries, legal systems, and administrative cadres. Despite aid recipient nations often being in recession, IMF and World Bank mandates for cutting government spending worsened the economies of many aid recipients. Directed to eliminate trade barriers, recipients likely found their domestic industries overwhelmed (African food and clothing producers), while corporations in advanced nations enjoyed a windfall. IMF and World Bank-required elimination of barriers to foreign investment often brought inflation, and forced privatization frequently brought fraud as as former state sectors were taken over by political cronies (Russia). Then there was the obvious hypocrisy of our often propping up ruthless oil and anit-Communist dictators while espousing American-style democracy, ignoring Israel;s abuse of Palestinians, and subsidizing American agriculture at the same time the World Bank and IMF prevented developing countries from doing the same. Then came our own problems - the [...] crash, 9/11, our Katrina response, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ballooning trade and federal deficits, realization of an inadequate and dated infrastructure, a failing education system, crippling health care and defense costs, inability to aggressively address global warming, deindustrialization, our 2007 Wall Street collapse, and quixotic quests to play the role of world's policeman (Iran, Korea). Each served to undermine America's former soft power aura of competence and success.

Halper attributes recent U.S. economic problems, as well as its ineffectual aid to others, to an inflexible economic ideology that developed in response to problems caused by powerful American labor unions of the 1970s. Faced with both rising unemployment and inflation, Milton Friedman and the 'Chicago school' sold Republicans on the assertion that government involvement didn't solve problems, rather it made them. Deregulation (transportation), reduced regulations, free trade, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and cutting taxes became de rigueur. At first, everything came up roses - American icons such as Coke, Nike, McDonald's, and then Microsoft, sprung up all over the globe, America's 20% inflation was stopped cold, and then the Russian empire collapsed in 1991. We even deluded ourselves into thinking Americans were "special people" with an assignment to evangelize others in democracy and freedom, per God. Reality, however, was that America had reached the peak of its 'soft power,' and was headed downhill.

China, meanwhile, talked little and accomplished much, thanks to its high savings rate, emphasis on and respect for education, flexible economic ideology, protected domestic markets, enormous supply of low-cost labor, and an autocratic government that permitted no 'great debates' - instead taking fast, consistent actions and learning from nearby Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan. On the political side, rather than accept conventional wisdom that economic success required a more democratic government, and sensitive to its revolt-prone past, the PRC government instead concluded that Russia had erred in permitting democratic reforms to outrun economic progress. In addition, China also determined that Russia had suffered from an overly aggressive foreign/satellite policy, a too-large military, a lack of market mechanisms, and a failure to ensure that key industries supported national interests. Incorporating all these lessons, the PRC elected to use strong, intelligent government power to accelerate economic growth; in turn the improved economy would serve as a means of maintaining the Communist Party's power. The new economy offered considerable economic freedom, while retaining government leadership of key industries such as telecommunications, banking, metals (steel, aluminum), and transportation. Pros included fast action, and consistent direction that wasn't subject to reversal every election cycle, continual media-fed industry-led fighting over economic direction, and the ability to immediately link business decision-making with political goals (eg. banning American firms selling arms to Taiwan from selling to the mainland; sometimes slowing the use of mechanization as a means of boosting employment). Cons - local officials' corruption, very limited democracy, and incredible pollution. (China's corruption problem, however, should be evaluated in the context of American business lobbying and 'buying elections.')

Thirty years later, China has accumulated some $2.4 trillion in currency reserves (could reach $13.4 trillion by 2020), increasingly used to fund aid projects on its own and provide a path around the West. Six billion is now committed to funding a media campaign to tell China's story. Chinese 'industrial policy' decisions have also brought the economic benefits of clustering (simplifies marketing and support efforts, intensifies knowledge distribution and competition), minimized contradictions (eg. not buying G.M.'s fuel-wasting Hummer brand in an increasingly resource and pollution-conscious world), and avoided undermining key values (eg. allowing banks to promote credit cards, instead of encouraging savings). Resource-rich nations (eg. OPEC) now emulate China - using their natural resources to avoid levying taxes and the subsequent demands for democracy, while using state capitalism to develop the economy, keep the populace happy, and leverage their own foreign policy etc. goals. (The world's thirteen largest oil companies are owned and run by governments; Saudi Arabia 'invented' political use of economic resources with its 1970s Oil Embargo; Gazprom periodically threatens to freeze large areas of Europe by turning off natural gas supplies.)

The weak U.S. economy is now less able/willing to provide large foreign aid projects, and the Bank of China is 6X the size of the World Bank. Turns out, we're not missed. Halper quotes an African leader comparing the World Bank's slow (five years) contracting and often patronizing support processes, vs. China's three months and few restrictions. In turn, China has lots of new friends supporting its aims in Taiwan, Tibet, and within China itself. Ironically, while Americans have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for nearly nine years, China is investing $3 billion to gain access to its huge copper reserves - first building roads, a $500 million power plant, a national railway, a coal mine, and eventually creating as many as 10,000 jobs for Afghans. Paradoxically, its investment is protected by American soldiers, and President Karzai is threatening to join the Taliban. Nearby, in Iran, China has $120 billion worth of oil deals - undoubtedly motivation for opposing U.S. goals there, and is busily also helping Iraq develop its oil resources.

China's recognizes that operational effectiveness in the role of offshore producer is not a long-term strategy for either maximizing profits nor full employment within China. Neither is the long-term holding of huge amounts of potentially depreciating American financial assets good for China.

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

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Postby svinayak » 14 Jul 2010 06:03

High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg
Niall Ferguson (Author)


Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (June 24, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159420246X
ISBN-13: 978-1594202469
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 93152.html

Ferguson's biography of Siegmund Warburg will be of strong interest for readers who find financial news interesting and are looking for a broader perspective on the geopolitics of finance, in particular Britain and the European bond market. It will surely be of less interest to general readers, especially American readers, than some of Ferguson's writings on more contemporary issues, and frankly would not be selling so well were the author someone other than Mr. Ferguson.

"High Financier" can be divided into three parts based on the word "Lives" in the subtitle. The first "life" of Siegmund Warburg was his German one, from 1902-1933, covered in the first 90 pages of the book. His second "life" was his "Anglo-American" life - this runs from 1934 through the 1950s, or about page 200 in the book. The focus here is on Warburg's efforts at increasing transatlantic financial ties. The remainder of the book, slightly more than half, includes his "Anglo-German" life, or his work from the 1950s through his death in 1982 which primarily focused on European integration.

That first part will be of most interest to readers interested in German history and the interwar period. One intriguing point is what Ferguson describes as Warburg's ambivalent feelings toward the Nazi rise to power. As an educated German Jew he was of course repelled by their anti-Semitism and thuggish manner. Yet Warburg's diary and correspondence show that elements of the Nazi program appealed to him. This appears to be because as a life-long man of the political left, Warburg felt a strong attraction to collectivist policy and hostility for the decadence of the bourgeoisie, and thus hoped a coalition government including them might do some good. Ferguson's point is that if even someone like Warburg could fail to understand the Nazis' true nature until 1934, we should be more understanding of people in other countries who took even longer.

Ferguson goes to some effort to portray Warburg as an active opponent of the Nazis once he fully realized the threat, but he tries too hard. He claims Warburg to have been "an ardent opponent of the policy of appeasement," but cites no public anti-Hitler statements prior to 1939. All of the footnotes cite his diary and private correspondence. Indeed, during the 1934-1939 period Warburg traveled to Germany regularly for business, and was never bothered by the regime. All his family had left the country except two uncles who had chosen to stay to maintain the family business. Maybe it was because he didn't become a British citizen until 1939, or maybe he was concerned about his uncles. But despite all the talk about "spiritual values," it is hard not to suspect that Warburg's life priorities were no different than those of any other banker.

In regard to Warburg's "Anglo-American" life, he spent some time in the U.S. at a young age in the late 1920s, before the crash, and with part of the Warburg family firmly established in New York. He considered first going there, but after moving to London in 1934 he was heavily involved in cross-Atlantic finance before his focus moved back toward the continent.

Warburg's third life, taking up just over half the book, is his Anglo-German life. I say that - and this is a term Ferguson uses himself - because while living in the UK is business focused primarily on European finance and the need for greater integration. Whether Warburg was as important as Ferguson claims, I don't know enough about British financial history 1945-1980 to judge. But he portrays Warburg as the father of the hostile takeover in Britain, and as key to the rise of the Eurobond market and to London's revival as a financial center generally.

Warburg does seem to have been a master of business management. Ferguson devotes significant space to Warburg correspondence on the principles of a banker's work and good management practices. I won't go into that here, but readers interested in business philosophy may find these segments fruitful.

Warburg was also a strategic visionary. Ferguson consistently portrays him as being ahead of his contemporaries when it comes to business and finance. But he also presents him as being farsighted in geo-strategic terms, foreseeing the synthesis of Kennan's containment and Kissinger's détente. In 1954 Warburg wrote that the keys to victory were "building up the strength of the Western allies, second, raising the standard of living in the East (particularly in South-East Asia), and third, by a relaxation of tension..."


For Warburg was also, as he himself put it, 'a man who lived in a way several lives, that of a German scholar, of an international banker, of an adherent to Judaism and above all of an ardently enthusiastic citizen of Britain, his country of adoption'. He was a scion of one of the great German-Jewish banking dynasties. He was also a politician manqué. Few figures in modern financial history have simultaneously played such an influential political role, albeit largely behind the scenes. As a young man, Warburg had intended to go into politics. The rise of Hitler shattered his ambitions. Yet even as an exile in 1930s England he retained his passion for politics. He was among the most outspoken City opponents of the policy of appeasement. And, after the war, he emerged as a highly influential proponent of European integration. Indeed, the part Warburg played in what has hitherto been the secret history of European unification – the process whereby Europe was financially as well as politically integrated – is among the most historically significant revelations of this book. Bankers, it now becomes clear were as important as bureaucrats in propelling forward the project for a united Europe, and no banker did more to advance this cause than Siegmund Warburg. He consistently sought to accelerate the process whereby European institutions, in both the public and the private sector, were linked together across national borders. And he strove for decades to overcome the resistance of the British Establishment – the political and civil service elites of Westminster and Whitehall – to the idea that Britain should be a fully fl edged member of a European Union.

At the same time, Warburg remained a committed Atlanticist, seeing no contradiction between Europe's economic integration and its strategic dependence on the United States. Despite the fact that he had opted for the City over Wall Street, he never lost sight of his lifelong goal of transatlantic financial integration and spent as much of his working career in New York as in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Paris and Zurich combined. His attempts to salvage Kuhn, Loeb & Co., once one of the titans of Wall Street, is one of the hitherto unwritten chapters of American financial history.

Bankers, it is often said, are the real powers behind the scenes of politics. But how in practice could a banker like Warburg exert power in the post-war world? Part of the answer lies in his pioneering role in corporate finance, which put him at the very heart of successive governments' efforts to resuscitate the ailing British economy. It was the emergence of S. G. Warburg & Co. as the masterminds of the takeover bid – beginning with the contested bid for British Aluminium – that transformed Warburg from an outsider, cold-shouldered by the snobbish old boys' network of the City, into one of the key insiders of 1960s politics. To an extent not previously realized by historians, Warburg became one of Harold Wilson's most trusted confidants on economic questions during the latter's first term as prime minister. In their regular meetings, about which other Cabinet members knew little, Warburg steered Wilson in the direction of EEC membership and strove, vainly as it proved, to avert first the devaluation of sterling in 1967 and then the descent of Britain's economy into the financial maelstrom of the mid-1970s.


Return to “Strategic Issues & International Relations Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: jivana and 32 guests