Page 14 of 31

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 25 Sep 2010 20:46
by ramana
Something for fun!

The Matrix in Theory By Myriam Diocaretz; Stefan Herbrechter
Publisher: Editions Rodopi BV 2006 | 314 Pages | ISBN: 9042016396 |

The Matrix trilogy continues to split opinions widely, polarising the downright dismissive and the wildly enthusiastic. Nevertheless, it has been fully embraced as a rich source of theoretical and cultural references. The contributions in this volume probe the effects the Matrix trilogy continues to provoke and evaluate how or to what extent they coincide with certain developments within critical and cultural theory. Is the enthusiastic philosophising and theorising spurned by the Matrix a sign of the desperate state theory is in, in the sense of "see how low theory (or ‘post-theory’) has sunk"? Or could the Matrix be one of the "master texts" for something like a renewal for theory as now being mainly concerned with new and changing relations between science, technology, posthumanist culture, art, politics, ethics and the media? The present volume is unashamedly but not dogmatically theoretical even though there is not much agreement about what kind of theory is best suited to confront "post-theoretical" times. But it is probably fair to say that there is agreement about one thing, namely that if theory appears to be "like" the Matrix today it does so because the culture around it and which "made" it itself seems to be captured in some kind of Matrix. The only way out of this is through more and renewed, refreshed theorising, not less.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 26 Sep 2010 20:19
by ramana
John E. Richardson, Analyzing Newspapers - An Approach from Critical Discourse Analysis
Palgrave Macmillan; First Edition | January 9, 2007 | ISBN: 1403935653 | 280 pages

Analysing Newspapers provides students of journalism, communication studies and discourse analysis with a systematic, discourse-based framework for the critical study of newspaper reporting. Assuming no prior knowledge of discursive theory, the book explores how the language of journalism works--its power, its function and its effects. Using wide-ranging and highly topical case studies and examples, students are shown discourse analysis of journalism "in action". Identifying and exploring key linguistic concepts and tools, Richardson provides a detailed introduction to a practical model of critical discourse analysis which students will be able to apply to their own newspaper research.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 26 Sep 2010 20:21
by ramana
William Nobrega, Ashish Sinha, "Riding the Indian Tiger: Understanding India -- the World's Fastest Growing Market"

Publisher: Wiley; First Edition edition (January 9, 2008) | ISBN-10: 0470183276 | ISBN-13: 978-0470183274 | 272 Pages |

In 2008, India will likely overtake China as the world’s fastest growing economy and become one of the largest economies globally. Foreign investment is increasing dramatically and business opportunities abound for those who know how to find them. With a growing middle class and booming markets, India holds much promise for investors. Riding the Indian Tiger shows you how to get in on the ground floor and profit from India’s economic boom.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 00:39
by ramana
Stephen Quinn, Stephen Lamble, "Online Newsgathering: Research and Reporting for Journalism"
Publisher: Focal | 2007 | ISBN 0240808517 | 208 pages |

Journalists used to rely on their notepad and pen. Today, professional journalists rely on the computerand not just for the writing. Much, if not all, of a journalists research happens on a computer.
If you are journalist of any kind, you need to know how to find the information you need online. This book will show you how to find declassified governmental files, statistics of all kinds, simple and complex search engines for small and large data gathering, and directories of subject experts. This book is for the many journalists around the world who didnt attend a formal journalism school before going to work, those journalists who were educated before online research became mainstream, and for any student studying journalism today. It will teach you how to use the Internet wisely, efficiently and comprehensively so that you will always have your facts straight and fast.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 04 Oct 2010 07:36
by Anujan
X-posting Book review & impressions of Woodward's "Obama's wars" (1 of 2)

Halfway through "Obama's wars" by Bob Woodward. So far it is exclusively about Afghanistan (why the wars in plural?)

Every BRF-ite should read it. Bob Woodward has given a grand sweep of how US fights its wars, the impact of Civil-Military relations on the conduct of the war by the US, the various fissures between intelligence agencies which enhances (or frequently limits) their capabilities, the methods and techniques (which involve robust debate and scholarly reviews) adopted to review their approach and the ruthless single minded pursuit of American interests. This is a very important book for every BRF-ite to read carefully to analyze Unkil's intentions and methods. This is review part 1 of 2, since I am only halfway through the book:

If I may speculate, the publication of this book in October carries a special significance. The publication of the McChrystal review of the afghan war progress forms a central incident in the book. McChrystal's review of the Afghan situation, initiated after the commencement of Obama's presidency was done in the context of Obama reorienting Afghan war as the central war of his presidency, a reversal of the Bush approach of the centrality of Iraq. This review was leaked to Woodward who wanted to publish it (~1 year ago). Then Woodward himself was invited to the Pentagon (along with the Washingtonpost editor and lawyer) to try and get him to not do it, or atleast redact a major portion of it. To understand the report's significance, the report was commissioned in the climate of 3 diverging pulls in the administration. (1) Essentially unlimited commitment to the war -- hundreds of thousands of troops. This option seems to have been given a final burial (2) McChrystal's plan of 30,000 soldiers to replicate Iraq's "surge" (more on this later) and the (3) Biden plan of counterterrorism+: 2 bases in Afghanistan, small elite force with significant mobility to strike anywhere at short notice, and round the clock aerial surveillance. In short, making life "Just about difficult" for Al Qaeda to not use Afghanistan and go elsewhere.

Now back to McChrystal review and the timing of the book: Woodward rightfully points out that only under extraordinary circumstances do US generals ever use the word "defeat" in writing -- and McChrystal had used the word more than a dozen times in his review! The most clear & chilling sentence:

"Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentun in the near-term (by September 2010)...risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible"..."We run the risk of strategic defeat" :shock:

And this is October 2010. 8)

Now on to the general review & summary: So far, the book is about the Administration operatives (who are "Win the next elections at any cost" mode) and an army of hyper competitive never-say-die generals (who are in "Win the war at any cost" mode). Their theatrics played out in the media, with one group trying to box in the other through public pronouncements. The administration itself consists of three cliques of people. The "Get Obama re-elected" group (of Rahm Emmanuel and Axelrod), The "Old Obama buddies" group and "Hired professionals for the job" group and the tensions between them. However, my review is not about those parts. I will organize this from an "India centric" viewpoint. First of all, everyone in the US seems to have come around to the view that Military victory (in the classic sense of taliban defeat and capitulation) is impossible. There are two reasons for this impossibility. 1. The current force levels of the US are inadequate for counterinsurgency and 2. Even if they militarily succeed, the other two "legs of the stool" -- Governance & Economic development in Afghanistan and Stability & co-operation of Pakistan is absent. Now, no BRF-ite should even for a moment think that Unkil is not aware of the double game being played by Pakistan: Right off the bat, in page 3 of the book, which details the President-elect Obama (he would take the oath of office many months later, this is during the transition period) being briefed on national security,

McConnell had laid out the problem dealing with Pakistan. It was a dishonest partner of the US in the Afghan war. "They are living a lie", McConnell said.

In fact, I will go a step further and claim that so far the book has covered 3 aspects. (1) The Army-Administration relationship and its impact on the conduct of the war (2) Suicidal behavior of Pakistan and their perfidy (3) To a lesser extent, Karzai's inability to work towards some semblance of a decent administrative structure. A good chunk of the book is about Pakistan's double dealing and Unkil's planning to take into account the double dealing. For example

On the stick side, Riedel said, they had looked at the extreme option of invading Pakistan....immediately dismissed it. (On the carrot side debating whether Pakistan should be rewarded with hundreds of helicopters)....There werent enough helicopters in the world to change Pakistani behavior :mrgreen:

Sometimes, the absurdity is even highlighted

Zardari talking with Khalizad: Zardari dropped his diplomatic guard. He suggested that one of the two countries was arranging the attacks by Pakistani taliban inside his country: India or the US. Zardari didnt think India could be that clever. Zardari talking with Bob Woodward: On relations with India, he took pride in what he deemed a significant liberalizing moment. "I've allowed Indian movies for the first time" :lol:

In this context, and in the context of Unkil's realization that a counter insurgency is unlikely to succeed, Unkil wants to "Change the facts on the ground". Which essentially means a change in Pakistani behavior. Like blind sheep, every discussion mentioned in the book about "Changing Pakistani behavior" goes back to gaining Pakistani trust by doing something or the other. The administration and the army seems to have bought hook line and sinker, Pakistani claim that resolution of disputes with India would cause it to abandon terrorism. However, it seems to me that three assumptions have not been challenged

1. How will rewarding bad behavior (on the part of Pakistan) ensure Pakistan's compliance to its end of the bargain? What if they demand more? Riedel himself dismisses Pakistani demand of a civil nuclear deal as (paraphrased) "They will simply pocket it and keep doing what they are doing, claiming that it is their right to get a deal like India"

2. What does appeasing Pakistan mean in the larger content of Unkil's strategy in Asia? vis-a-vis China and India?

3. Why not use tools and leverages that exist to punish them?

Unkil's acceptance (in some form or the other) Pakistani position that support of terrorism is in some sense a natural thing to do in its competition with India, is just one aspect of why India should not pin its hopes on the US. The other significant aspect is that US itself is in a "drawdown" mode. Listing a few national interests. Paring down that list to bare essentials. Achieving that bare essentials using minimum casualities and money. In this sense, every objective in Afghanistan is questioned and its scope reduced. For example: The quality of training of the Afghan armed forces, whether to "defeat" or simply "disrupt" the taliban (there are several rounds of discussion between the National Security advisor, Defence secretary, Petraeus, Director of National Intelligence etc. about the single word "Defeat" vs "Disrupt" in the strategy document)

This has convinced me that India relying on the US to accomodate Indian national interest in Afghanistan in some form or extent is a losing strategy on India's part

A few random thoughts and excerpts:

1. On predator drones, Woodward asserts again and again that the drones themselves are just one aspect. Without accurate HUMINT the drones are useless
The US had scored an extraordinary intelligence coup in the ungoverned regions of Pakistan as a result of blending...human sources and technical intelligence...He (McConnell) said, The real breakthrough had been with human sources. That is what President Bush wanted to protect at all costs....without spies, the video feed from the Predator might as well be a blank television screen.

2. The degree to which everyone is prepared to question their assumptions and even winning strategies, hire outside consultants and produce sharp strategy documents is astounding. If GWB's administration had done this 9 years ago, Afghan war would have had a different color now.

3. Everyone wants to fix India-Pak "issues". For example in one of the main strategy meetings on Afghan war
...everyone in the room said it had to be done without fanfare or public attention (India-Pak issues). Otherwise India would go beserk. India thought that the US was filled with closet Pakistani lovers.

When it came to India--a country outside of Holbrooke's portfolio but central to Pakistan's concerns--Holbrooke said in his theatric baritone, "I will deal with India by pretending not to deal with India".

and Obama laying out his objectives
I see three key goals. One protecting the US homeland...two, concern about Pakistan's nuclear weapons...third goal about Pakistan-India relationships

4.... but that doesnt mean that a majority of the book is devoted to India-Pak. India is hardly mentioned at all. Maybe 1 or 2 pages. In the context of Mumbai,
CIA intelligence showed no direct ISI link, Hayden told him (Bush). These are former people who are no longer employees of the Pakistani government* (Footnote: The CIA later recieved reliable intelligence that ISI was directly involved in training for Mumbai)

5. For comic relief, one of the SEAL missions into Pakistan produced heavy civilian casualities because
But in that part of the world, people often ran towards automatic weapons fire and see what was happening :rotfl:

6. While propounding "Nook Nanga" theory, this has to be taken into account:
And most tellingly, nothing on the shelf specifically addressed towards securing Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Obama's team would have to develop a graduated plan dealing with a range of circumstances, from Pakistan losing a single nuclear weapon all the way up to the Pakistani government falling to Islamic extremists.

I am only halfway through the book, my impressions might change. Rest of the review after I finish the book. And I havent lost sight of the fact that this is October 2010 and the national bird of Pakistan seems to be frisky these days....

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 09 Oct 2010 09:31
by ramana
David Fromkin, "A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East"
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks | 2001 | ISBN 0805068848 | 672 pages |
The critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling account of how the modern Middle East came into being after World War I, and why it is in upheaval today
In our time the Middle East has proven a battleground of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and dynasties. All of these conflicts, including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis that have flared yet again, come down, in a sense, to the extent to which the Middle East will continue to live with its political inheritance: the arrangements, unities, and divisions imposed upon the region by the Allies after the First World War.
In A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies came to remake the geography and politics of the Middle East, drawing lines on an empty map that eventually became the new countries of Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all-even an alliance between Arab nationalism and Zionism-seemed possible he raises questions about what might have been done differently, and answers questions about why things were done as they were. The current battle for a Palestinian homeland has its roots in these events of 85 years ago.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 00:47
by ramana
Foundations of Radiation Hydrodynamics by Dimitri Mihalas
Publisher: Dover Publications (July 7, 1999) | ISBN: 0486409252 | Pages: 736 |
Excellent, informative volume focuses on dynamics of nonradiating fluids, problems involving waves, shocks and stellar winds, physics of radiation, radiation transport, and the dynamics of radiating fluids.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 20:01
by ramana
Two book reviews from Pioneer, 10/10/2010

Hindi, Chini bye bye
October 11, 2010 8:21:42 PM

India China: Neighbours Strangers
Author: Ira Pande (ed)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Price: 699

The book looks beyond the romanticised notions of ‘Buddhist twins’ and ‘bhai-bhai’ labels that caricaturise India-China relations, says Nimmi Kurian

The evocative title of the book is a sort of leitmotif that speaks to the central irony that the dyadic interactions between India and China often tend to be more celebrated than understood. The collection of essays came out originally as part of a double issue of the IIC Quarterly that attempt to look beyond the romanticised notions of ‘Buddhist twins’ and ‘bhai-bhai’ labels that caricaturise India-China relations. This is especially useful at a time when scholars are debating the emerging contours of this relationship and seek to understand the nature of India’s growing engagement with China.

Karan Singh in his preface perhaps unconsciously lumps China studies into the very binaries that the book sets out to critique — what he calls as the ‘The Eternal Enemy School’ versus the ‘Chindia School’. This in a sense is the challenge facing China studies in India today — the basic inability to raise new questions and think beyond limited dyadic frames of competition or cooperation. Such simplistic narratives have flattened and deterred more open-minded enquiries that could add a rich texture and layers to our understanding. The state of health of any field of enquiry can be gauged by the robustness and rigour of its intellectual discourse. Its very raison d’etre would critically hinge on its capacity to project alternative scenarios as well as raise new questions. The explanatory power also needs to be seen in conjunction with its capacity to represent a wide cross-section of views and perspectives.

Divided into six sections, the book is a veritable melange that weaves reminiscences and scholarly accounts on a wide range of issues. These look at early Buddhist interactions, geopolitical concerns, social and economic challenges facing China and the fraught relations between the neighbours.

Studying their early interactions is useful since looking at India-China relations in the modern period is a partial template that overlooks the rich tapestry of their exchanges in the pre-modern era. As we know, these were interdependent networks of trade, diplomacy and Buddhist pilgrims that had spillover effects on their shared neighbourhood. These rich narratives can be pieced together from a multiplicity of sources, not all of which come to us in the written form. These were the iconographic accounts that itinerant traders, pilgrims and monks carried in their heads and relayed orally to enrich a common knowledge base. We learn of the issues that animated these pre-modern conversations, of its ebb and flow as well as its many tensions.

For instance, the transmission of Buddhism was not embraced seamlessly but often faced fierce backlash from those who questioned its relevance and contested its very emancipatory fundamentals. These tensions gave a powerful push to moves by the Chinese Buddhist clergy to Sinicise the religion and to the development of indigenous schools of religious thought.

The papers that look at the range of challenges facing Beijing’s domestic institutional structures and development choices open the black box of China from the inside. A look at recent literature in China shows that the issue is being intensely debated in the media, academia and policy circles. China is today riding the tiger of complex transitions in its society as new faultlines emerge and old ones get reinforced. Many of these faultlines run along social, economic and gender dimensions with distinct spatial patterns. A governance crisis spells nothing short of a legitimacy crisis for the governing class and the reasons for anxiety are obvious. In his paper, Robert MacFarquhar argues that without the “ideological glue” of Maoist thought, there is “a black hole at the centre of modern Chinese history”. Edward Friedman looks at the role of Chinese nationalism and national imaginary and how “China’s imagined history and contemporary ambition clash with Indian memories of millennia of friendly relations”. Many of these larger debates point to exciting new trajectories of intellectual enquiry, apart from those feel-good, mix-and-stir versions of India-China relations that is often the standard fare.

While the story is good in parts, the whole is often not the sum of its parts. Most are also stand-alone chapters woven loosely into what emerges as a patchwork of stories. While the overall theme is a relevant one, the editor’s two-page introduction is woefully thin and does not set the context for the volume. This is a serious shortcoming for a collection of 34 essays that covers such a spread of topics and perspectives. For instance, certain contemporary developments in India-China relations do not mention the year when these occurred, and only refer to months. While this might have been an innocent omission in a journal issue, careful editing could have obviated these frustrating lapses in a book. The inclusion of a bibliography and an index would have been value additions and handy tools to navigate a book that meanders through so many thematic forks and bends.

--The reviewer is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi


Tracing India’s military journey
October 11, 2010 8:21:40 PM

The Rise of Indian Military Power
Author: GD Bakshi
Publisher: Knowledge World
Price: 780

The book identifies three ‘revolutions’ in military affairs, and says the country awaits the fourth one, writes Anil Bhat

Since Independence, coming after 1,000 years of chaos and anarchy, India has seen four conventional wars. And the fifth — an asymmetric one of proxy by export of terrorism — has been on since the 1980s.

This book, GD Bakshi’s 12th, is a path-breaker, attempting probably a first scientific analysis of the Indian military history in terms of a series of “Revolutions in Military Affairs” (RMA) that had profound implications in the socio-political sphere. The author identifies three critical RMAs that changed the course of Indian history.

The first RMA was engendered by the Mauryans who used war elephants en masse to generate “shock and awe”. This, for the first time, helped unite almost the entire subcontinent into a highly centralised and prosperous empire.

The Mughals under Babar introduced the Second RMA in South Asia. The Mughal RMA was based on an intelligent combination of field artillery, flintlock muskets and horse- based archers. The new explosive paradigm of warfare terrified the Indian war-elephants and panicked them to a degree that made them a liability on the battlefield. The Mughals, thus, unified India for the second time into a magnificent empire that at one stage was generating 40 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product.

The British introduced the third RMA by raising well-drilled infantry regiments that could shoot collectively in a rhythm. An infantry battalion could thus generate sustained rates of fire of a thousand shots a minute. This high volume of fire decimated the Mughal-style cavalry. The third RMA helped emerge the “Third Empire of India”. The British unified the subcontinent for the third time.

The focus of this book, however, is not pre-Independence India, but the post-1947 period of the Indian military history. It tries to answer some pertinent questions: Is there an Indian strategic culture? Is there an Indian way of fighting warfare?

Western scholars have opined that India lacked a strategic culture. The author disagrees. Kautilya’s Arthashastra, he feels, constitutes the essence of an Indian strategic culture resurfacing unconsciously whenever India was united. This military culture is premised upon huge armed forces and attrition, besides emphasising on covert operations and information dominance. This Kautilyan paradigm of warfare resurfaced unconsciously in the liberation of Bangladesh in the 1971 war, which resulted in a resounding Indian victory over Pakistan. The shock and awe generated by the Indian Air Force’s complete domination of the skies over Bangladesh paved the way for a classic ‘blitzkrieg’ that (for the first time after the Second World War) created a new nation state with the force of arms. In just 14 days, India turned into a major regional power.

Since the Afghan jihad, the situation in South Asia has taken a turn for worse. Non-state actors are busy as never before. And, to bolster them, there is Pakistan, which has achieved nuclear and conventional military parity with India with the help of China and the US. Islamabad uses this parity to wage a relentless asymmetric war against India by using Islamist terrorists.

India is set to become a major economic power. It must translate this potential into usable military power to deter its adversaries from any provocative adventurism. India will have to field dominant war-fighting capabilities by ushering in the fourth RMA, based on air and water superiority.

India’s Defence Ministry has admitted in its annual reports that diplomacy remains the country’s chosen means of dealing with challenges, but that effective diplomacy has to be backed by credible military power. Delhi’s strategic and security interests require a mix of land-based, maritime and air capabilities with minimum credible deterrent to thwart the use of nuclear weapons against it.

This book must be read by all, particularly those interested in dealing with the issue of national security.

--The reviewer is editor, WordSword Features & Media

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 18 Oct 2010 09:14
by ramana
Book Review:



OCTOBER 16, 2010
The Next Battleground

We have come to accept that the 500-year domination of Asia by the West is coming to an end and that the balance of power in the 21st century will rest on the fortunes of China, India and the United States. In "Monsoon," Robert D. Kaplan goes further, suggesting that it is in the Indian Ocean where history will be made and where the global struggle for democracy, energy, religion and security will be waged.

Mr. Kaplan, whose books include "Balkan Ghosts" and "Warrior Politics," has a gift for geopolitical imagination. Maps do matter, he feels, and the right map can stimulate thinking about the future of the world. To understand the 20th century, it was important to understand the map of Europe. When it comes to the 21st century, however, Americans are at a disadvantage because of an inherent bias in their mapping convention: Since the 16th century, when Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator developed a method of showing the globe as a flattened surface, Mercator projections have tended to place the Western Hemisphere in the middle of the map, splitting the Indian Ocean at its far edges. Yet the Indian Ocean encompasses a quarter of the world's surface and is home to half of the world's shipping-container traffic.

From the Horn of Africa, the Indian Ocean stretches past the tense arc of Islam—with its tinderboxes of Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Pakistan—past the Indian subcontinent all the way to the Indonesian archipelago. The Indian Ocean will be the vital geography, says Mr. Kaplan, where the rivalry between China and India will play out, and where America's future as a great power depends on its ability to command a place on this new center stage of history.

Hovering over the book is a familiar question: Will the 21st century be defined by wars of identity, in particular the clash of fundamentalist Islam with others, or will it be a story of a largely peaceful, economic rise of India, China and other nations in Asia and Africa? Mr. Kaplan believes in the more optimistic scenario. The message of "Monsoon" is that the economic impulse is likely to prevail and in the long run even the more extreme Islamic nations will turn middle class. Al-Jazeera, the Middle Eastern television network, is symbolic of this bourgeois Islam.

The best thing that the U.S. can do, Mr. Kaplan says, is to continue to protect the vital trade routes of the Indian Ocean for the benefit of all, in alliance with the navies of the new powers of the Indian Ocean world. But America will have to shift its obsession with al Qaeda in order to be perceived as "legitimate" by the new, insecure middle classes of Asia, and learn to project its soft power.

To this end, according to Mr. Kaplan, the U.S. can learn something from India, whose soft power is admired around the world. The country is perceived by many as a pluralistic, democratic, nonviolent land of the ideals of Buddha, Gandhi and Tagore, ruled by the righteous principles of dharma during the best periods of its history—of the emperor Akbar in the 16th century, for example, and Ashoka in the third century B.C. This perception may explain why India's rise does not stir uneasiness in the same way that China's does. America too is a land of ideals, of course, but the world tends to forget that and needs to be reminded.

"Monsoon" rests on the premise that the Indian Ocean is "more than just a geographic feature, it is also an idea." I am not persuaded. Just as I am not persuaded that Asia is an "idea" in the sense that the West is. I have trouble imagining what people mean when they say that the 21st century will be an era of Asian dominance. It makes sense to talk about the rise of India and China, but Asia is too diverse with too many cultures, nations and religions—and it is too disunited. Yes, there have been rich, historical connections between Asian countries based on trade, diplomacy and Buddhism, but that is insufficient to support Asia as an "idea." This is a landmass, after all, that stretches from the Near East to the Far, across seven time zones and half the world's latitudes.

For the 21st century to be a peaceful era, Mr. Kaplan suggests, China, India and America should look to history for inspiration. The Indian Ocean was a trading cosmopolis before the Portuguese arrived in the late 15th century, an oceangoing marketplace where Indian, Chinese, Arab and Persian traders were brought close by the monsoon winds to create a grand network of communal ties. Such comity will be hard to duplicate as India and China grow more powerful and their interest in dominating the Indian Ocean increases accordingly. It should be noted that the navies of China and India will soon rank second and third in the world, trailing only the U.S.

India fears encirclement by China, and India's other neighbors are increasingly uneasy about Beijing's swelling power and assertiveness. Amid these worries, many Asian countries still look to America as the only credible guarantor of security in the Indian Ocean.

Mr. Kaplan offers plenty of striking insights in "Monsoon," and his analysis generally makes sense—but I nonetheless have trouble believing that the future of the 21st century will hinge on naval power. Military ships these days seemed designed more for intimidation and transport than for all-out naval warfare—they're sitting ducks for sophisticated rocketry.

When it comes to the contest between India and China, I do not believe it will be decided either by arms or economic strength. Both countries will soon become prosperous and middle class. The race will be won by India if it fixes its governance before China fixes its politics; or by China if it finds a way to give its people liberty before India reforms its institutions of the state--bureaucracy, police, and judiciary.
—Mr. Das is the author of "The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma." (Oxford University Press.)

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 27 Oct 2010 08:11
by ramana
Margery Sabin - Dissenters and Mavericks: Writings About India in English, 1765-2000
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA | 2002-10-24 | ISBN: 0195150171 | 256 pages |

Dissenters and Mavericks reinvigorates the interdisciplinary study of literature, history, and politics through an approach to reading that allows the voices heard in writing a chance to talk back, to exert pressure on the presuppositions and preferences of a wide range of readers. Offering fresh and provocative interpretations of both well-known and unfamiliar texts--from colonial writers such as Horace Walpole and Edmund Burke to twentieth-century Indian writers such as Nirad Chaudhuri, V.S. Naipaul, and Pankaj Mishra--the book proposes a controversial challenge to prevailing academic methodology in the field of postcolonial studies.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 30 Oct 2010 06:12
by ramana
Intelligence Analysis: How to Think in Complex Environments (Praeger Security International)
Praeger | 2009-12-22 | ISBN: 0313382654 | 440 pages |

Intelligence Analysis: How to Think in Complex Environments fills a void in the existing literature on contemporary warfare by examining the theoretical and conceptual foundations of effective modern intelligence analysis—the type of analysis needed to support military operations in modern, complex operational environments. This volume is an expert guide for rethinking intelligence analysis and understanding the true nature of the operational environment, adversaries, and most importantly, the populace.

Intelligence Analysis proposes substantive improvements in the way the U.S. national security system interprets intelligence, drawing on the groundbreaking work of theorists ranging from Carl von Clauswitz and Sun Tzu to M. Mitchell Waldrop, General David Petraeus, Richards Heuer, Jr., Orson Scott Card, and others. The new ideas presented here will help the nation to amass a formidable, cumulative intelligence power, with distinct advantages over any and all adversaries of the future regardless of the level of war or type of operational environment.

Even though the book is about intel analysis its really about dealing with complex and complicated mass of information like in a marketplace.
People dealing with market trends also will benefit from this book.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 01 Nov 2010 11:32
by abhishek_sharma
Books for the World Ahead

A number of prominent figures -- political scientists, public intellectuals, politicians, historians, journalists, policymakers -- recommend books that shed light on some aspect of the world ahead.

"A Reading List for the Twenty-First Century," with contributions from

Fouad Ajami
Madeleine Albright
C. Fred Bergsten
James Fallows
Niall Ferguson
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Richard Holbrooke
Hu Shuli
Michael Ignatieff
Nicholas Kristof
John Mearsheimer
George Packer
Judith Rodin
Shashi Tharoor
Dmitri Trenin
Fareed Zakaria

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 06:54
by ramana
The Emergence of Provincial Politics
Cambridge University Press | July 29, 1976 | ISBN-10: 052120982X | 368 pages |

This book examines an important period of transition in the political structure of South India. The first three-quarters of a century of British rule, down to the 1870s, had effectively torn apart and fragmented the political institutions of the South, and had left a highly parochial political society in which loyalties seldom extended beyond face-to-face relationships and power was extremely localized. This lack of significant supra-local political connections contributed to the Madras Presidency's reputation as the most 'benighted' of all Indian provinces.

Also includes Andhra and nearby regions.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 18:11
by rahulm
Have just received my copy of "Sky is the limit, Signals in Operations Pawan" by Maj. Gen. Yashwant Deva. Looking forward to reading it.

I think Surya has already reviewed the book.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 15 Nov 2010 08:07
by ramana

The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders: With Profiles of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton
Publisher: University of Michigan Press | ISBN: 0472068385 | edition 2005 | 475 pages |
In an age when world affairs are powerfully driven by personality, politics require an understanding of what motivates political leaders such as Hussein, Bush, Blair, and bin Laden. Through exacting case studies and the careful sifting of evidence, Jerrold Post and his team of contributors lay out an effective system of at-a-distance evaluation. Observations from political psychology, psycholinguistics and a range of other disciplines join forces to produce comprehensive political and psychological profiles, and a deeper understanding of the volatile influences of personality on global affairs.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 08:03
by ramana
Paul Starobin - After America: Narratives for the Next Global Age
Publisher: Viking Adult | 2009-05-28 | ISBN: 067002094X | 368 pages |

Farsighted and fascinating predictions for a new world order in which America is no longer number one

The world is now at a hinge moment in its history, according to veteran international correspondent Paul Starobin. A once-dominant America has reached the end of its global ascendancy, and the question of what will come next, and how quickly, is not completely clear. Already the global economic crisis, in exposing the tarnished American model of unfettered free-market capitalism, is hastening the transition to the next, After America, phase of global history.
According to Starobin, the After America world is being driven less by virulent anti- Americanism than by America's middling status as a social, economic, and political innovator; by long-wave trends like resurgent nationalism in China, India, and Russia; and by the growth of transnational cultural, political, and economic institutions. While what is going to come next has not been resolved, we can discern certain narratives that are already advancing. In this sense, the After America age is already a work in progress-pregnant with multiple possibilities.
In this book, which masterfully mixes fresh reportage with rigorous historical analysis, Starobin presents his farsighted and fascinating predictions for the After America world. These possibilities include a global chaos that could be dark or happy, a multipolar order of nationstates, a global Chinese imperium, or-even more radically-an age of global city-states or a universal civilization leading to world government. Starobin feels that the question of which narrative will triumph may be determined by the fundamental question of identity: how people determine their allegiances, whether to the tribe, nation-state, city-state, or global community.
There will be surprises, Starobin thinks. In the After America world, both the nation-state and the traditional empire may lose ground to cosmopolitan forces like the city- state and the universal civilization. California-the eighth largest economy in the world and the most future- oriented place in America-is becoming an After America landscape, as illustrated by postnational, multicultural Hollywood. Prestigious educational institutions like Harvard are migrating from an American to a global identity and thus becoming part of an After America universal civilization. While these changes may feel unsettling, our best hope for adapting to an After America world is by becoming better borrowers of the best ideas and practices developed all around the planet.
Thought provoking and well argued, After America offers a way to think about a dramatically changing world in which the United States is no longer number one. Starobin's tone is sober but in the end hopeful-the age After America need not be a disaster for America, and might even be liberating.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 11:07
by abhishek_sharma

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 11:12
by Murugan
American Veda

Philip Goldberg

Starred Review. Spiritual coach and author Goldberg (Roadsigns) is a knowledgeable and sympathetic chronicler of the past 150 years or so of Indian spiritual ideas' influence on American spirituality. Correctly starting with Emerson and American transcendentalism, Goldberg follows a trail that gets broader, more diverse, and more powerful until yoga is as American as Starbucks, and "spiritual but not religious" becomes a cultural catchphrase describing millions whose notions of the transcendent are more shaped by India's Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Religion) than by Yankee divines and Southern Baptists. Goldberg sorts gurus and systems of yoga, correctly understanding the spiritual aspects of what many Americans think of as a physical fitness discipline. He's on point in tracing the influence of the spiritual philosophy of Vedanta on a legion of influential artists and writers beyond the titular ones--think John Coltrane and the late J.D. Salinger. This book fills a void; scholars have mined the subject of Indian spiritual philosophy, but mostly for the academy, despite the broad impact of Vedantism on popular culture. Goldberg gets it. (Nov.) ... 0385521340

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 04 Dec 2010 04:41
by ramana
A 2003 book

The Anglo-Maratha campaigns and the contest for India: the struggle for South Asian Military Economy

Randolph Cooper

Google Link

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 04 Dec 2010 06:13
by Rupesh
Read Fall of Giants by Ken Follett; its a fiction set during the WW-I

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 05 Dec 2010 05:14
by svinayak
THis book is good for Churchill and how he viewed Indians.
His views on Indians are suppressed and now they are becoming mainstream. His views to create the dominion status is clear and his dislike for upper caste and concern for untouchables. He does not reflect on what the British did for the untouchables for 200 years inside India

Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made
Richard Toye (Author)

Toye explores the early years of Churchill's life and the remarkable thing about the youthful Winston was how agile he was as a politician.
Having much personal dislike for Indians and other people of color, Churchill, nonetheless, had to deal with Gandhi and the many leaders of his far-flung empire. The closing sections of the book, wonderfully covered by Toye, have to do with the post-war breakup of the British Empire and Churchill's contributions to and feelings about them.

Winston Churchill led one of the more remarkable lives of the twentieth century and he landed in the right place at the right time for his rendezvous with history. Richard Toye reminds us that Churchill was far from perfect, but gives compelling reasons why this is so. "Churchill's Empire"

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 10 Dec 2010 07:57
by ramana
Paul Virilio - The Information Bomb (Radical Thinkers)
Publisher: Verso | 2006-01-11 | ISBN: 1844670597 | 146 pages

Virilio's exploration of the relationship between technology, speed, war and information technology weaves together a breathtaking worldview of horror, exhilaration and hope.
A prolific French intellectual known for his pronouncements on media, computers and technology, Virilio writes in the subversive tradition of Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard and Theodore Roszak. In this bracing collection of essays and articles, originally published in France in 1998, he emerges as a deeply skeptical critic of "techno-culture," his blanket term encompassing cyberspace, Hollywood and pop culture, transgenic foodstuffs, animal cloning and the human genome project. Without much evidence, Virilio charges that the United States is waging an "information war" by using the Internet, the Web and global communications to foster "cybernetic colonialism," a monopoly of knowledge abetting control over minds everywhere and over the politics of sovereign states. Far from history coming to an end, as Francis Fukuyama suggested, techno-progress, in Virilio's diagnosis, is driving a new era of all-out globalization, spreading virtual realities, mass culture, biotechnology and weapons of mass destruction across the planet. This opens up possibilities for totalitarian control, social engineering and telesurveillance, he warns. Included are pieces on the space race, the suicidal Heaven's Gate cybercult, the divorce of science from ethics, the controversial "Sensation" art exhibit and other topics Virilio astutely sets in the context of our modern age of "pseudo-individualism" and a "liberal hedonism" that is "nothing more than 'every man for himself.'" While many of his prognoses are exaggerated and his academic prose can be tough sledding, Virilio's cyber-skepticism is a refreshing antidote to the "global village" mantra of Net gurus.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 14 Dec 2010 08:47
by SSridhar
Book Review in The Hindu by Nirupama Subramanian
MY LIFE WITH THE TALIBAN: by Abdul Salam Zaeef;
Translated by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn;
Hachette India, 612/614, Time Tower, MG Road, Sector 28, Gurgaon-122001. Rs. 495.

After Ahmed Rashid's definitive book on the Taliban, there have been few studied accounts of the movement that has managed to keep the U.S. military tied down in Afghanistan for a full nine years. But the war has ensured that, in the decade or so since the publication of Rashid's book, the world has come to know much more about this phenomenon called Taliban.

To this knowledge, a gripping insider account — of how the movement emerged, took power in Afghanistan, and ruled until the U.S. mounted attacks after 9/11 — adds an unmatched perspective.

Abdul Salam Zaeef aka Mullah Zaeef, author of this fascinating memoir — a Mujahid who fought the Soviets in the first Afghan war — was an important player in the Taliban, right from its early days up to the time its regime was swept away by the American attack on Afghanistan. Zaeef's narrative is often self-serving — which autobiography is not? But it gives an insight into the internal dynamics of the movement, especially in the days immediately before and after 9/11.

Face of the Taliban

In those tumultuous days, Zaeef was the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, emerging as the face of the Taliban. Pakistan was one of the three countries that recognised the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the other two being Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Zaeef speaks of the pressures that were building up on the Taliban-run Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — specifically on him — from the U.S. and Pakistan, in the months before the Twin Tower attacks: how the Americans wanted the Islamic Emirate to hand over Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban's response to this demand; how the U.S. diplomats and the ISI repeatedly met him to say that Osama was planning a big attack on American soil from Afghanistan, and warn of U.S. retaliation; and how, when 9/11 happened, Mullah Omar, the one-eyed Taliban leader, believed there was “less than a 10 per cent chance” that the U.S. would attack Afghanistan.

A fierce Mullah Omar loyalist, Zaeef pours water on current efforts to separate “moderate” Taliban from hardliners and says trying to make such distinctions is “useless and reckless”. Even back then, he writes, days after the war in Afghanistan started, the ISI approached him with the proposal that he should assist in separating the “fundamentalists” from the moderates. He was encouraged to rebel against Mullah Omar and take up the leadership of the moderate Taliban. But he knew the real intention behind this plan was to split and weaken the Taliban.

He writes that the same intentions inform the present efforts. “[The Obama administration and President Hamid Karzai] think that the Taliban exist for the sake of money or power, [and] so logically it would seem that they can be destroyed with money and power, [but] in reality, the Taliban movement is one based on Islamic ideology, struggling for holy jihad under the principle of itta'at or obedience, and samar or listening, as well as that of dialogue.” Afghanistan has never been subjugated by invaders, he asserts.

Zaeef, who leads a quiet life in Kabul after his release from Guantanamo, is not optimistic about peace returning to Afghansitan. He is emphatic that a solution can be found only through Islam. “The only way to find a solution… is to respect Islamic values… The political vacuum that has ensnared our nation must be filled. Islam can guide us.”

He is bitter that Pakistan turned him over to the Americans, despite his having diplomatic accreditation. There is a graphic description about the time he spent in Guantanamo as “Prisoner 306”. He is also angry about the ISI's, and more generally Pakistan's, efforts to control the Taliban government. Evidently, he seems to have conveniently forgotten how the ISI had helped the movement, financially and in every other way, to get to Kabul. He accuses Pakistan of spoiling the Taliban's relations with the U.S., and says, that while in Islamabad, he tried to get across the message that diplomats of Western countries should meet directly with him instead of approaching the Pakistan Foreign Ministry to set up appointments.


Zaeef says the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas was “unnecessary” and a “case of bad timing”. Even in those “tiresome” times, he showed a sense of humour, something not usually associated with the Taliban. When the Japanese Ambassador in Islamabad met him about saving the Buddhas, he told Zaeef that Afghans had been the founding fathers of Buddhism and that the Japanese were only following in their footsteps. As such, he pleaded that the Afghans must do everything to preserve Buddhist monuments.

Zaeef says he told the envoy, “half-joking”, that it was interesting to hear that Afghans were considered the founding fathers of Buddhism and, now that they had seen the light of Islam, perhaps the Japanese should consider following their lead once again.

The book, originally written in Pashto, was translated by a multi-member team, and painstakingly edited by Kandahar-based Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, who are the founders of AfghanWire, an agency dedicated to raising awareness of Afghan issues and opinions that are ignored by the international media. The detailed notes provided to each chapter fill the gaps in Zaeef's narrative. For anyone with even half an interest in Afghanistan, this book is a must read.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 15 Dec 2010 06:36
by ramana
Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam Summary
Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr | ISBN: 0691054800 | edition 1987 | 301 pages |

Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam is an extremely controversial but effectively argued and extensively documented work. The author presents a radical challenge to a number of standard assertions about the socio-economic milieu in which Islam arose." -R. Stephen Humphreys, University of Wisconsin, Madison Patricia Crone reassesses one of the most widely accepted dogmas in contemporary accounts of the beginnings of Islam, the supposition that Mecca was a trading center thriving on the export of aromatic spices to the Mediterranean. Pointing out that the conventional opinion is based on classical accounts of the trade between south Arabia and the Mediterranean some 600 years earlier than the age of Muhammad, Dr. Crone argues that the land route described in these records was short-lived and that the Muslim sources make no mention of such goods. In addition to changing our view of the role of trade, the author reexamines the evidence for the religious status of pre-Islamic Mecca and seeks to elucidate the nature of the sources on which we should reconstruct our picture of the birth of the new religion in Arabia. Patricia Crone is professor of Islamic history at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. Her books include Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh 2004) and Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Premodern World (second edition, Oxford 2003)

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 15 Dec 2010 07:38
by ramana
Richard L. Smith, "Premodern Trade in World History (Themes in World History)"
Publisher: Routledge | 2008 | ISBN 0415424763 | 173 pages |

Trade and commerce are among the oldest, most pervasive, and most important of human activities, serving as engines for change in many other human endeavors. This far-reaching study examines the key theme of trading in world history, from the earliest signs of trade until the long-distance trade systems such as the famous Silk Road were firmly established. Beginning with a general background on the mechanism of trade, Richard L. Smith addresses such basic issues as how and why people trade, and what purpose trade serves. The book then traces the development of long-distance trade, from its beginnings in the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods through early river valley civilizations and the rise of great empires, to the evolution of vast trade systems that tied different zones together.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 16 Dec 2010 10:00
by abhishek_sharma

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 23 Dec 2010 10:58
by abhishek_sharma
FP's bloggers pick their favorite books of 2010.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 23 Dec 2010 11:26
by jamwal
International Book Fair starting this week in Nai Dilli.
Any suggestions ?

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 23 Dec 2010 13:08
by abhishek_sharma
jamwal wrote:International Book Fair starting this week in Nai Dilli.
Any suggestions ?

This book by Raghuram Rajan has been recommended by many people.

He teaches at University of Chicago, so expect a right of centre attitude. I am reading it now. It is a good book.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 11:03
by ldev
A great book. Have run through the first 100 pages or so. Should be read without blinkers.

Why the West Rules - For Now
The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future

Written by Ian Morris
Category: History - Civilization; History - Social History; History - World
Format: Hardcover, 768 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: 978-0-7710-6455-5 (0-7710-6455-1)

Pub Date: October 12, 2010

Why does the West rule? In this magnum opus, eminent Stanford polymath Ian Morris answers this provocative question, drawing on 50,000 years of history, archeology, and the methods of social science, to make sense of when, how, and why the paths of development differed in the East and West — and what this portends for the 21st century.

There are two broad schools of thought on why the West rules. Proponents of "Long-Term Lock-In" theories such as Jared Diamond suggest that from time immemorial, some critical factor — geography, climate, or culture perhaps — made East and West unalterably different, and determined that the industrial revolution would happen in the West and push it further ahead of the East. But the East led the West between 500 and 1600, so this development can't have been inevitable; and so proponents of "Short-Term Accident" theories argue that Western rule was a temporary aberration that is now coming to an end, with Japan, China, and India resuming their rightful places on the world stage. However, as the West led for 9,000 of the previous 10,000 years, it wasn't just a temporary aberration. So, if we want to know why the West rules, we need a whole new theory. Ian Morris, boldly entering the turf of Jared Diamond and Niall Ferguson, provides the broader approach that is necessary, combining the textual historian's focus on context, the anthropological archaeologist's awareness of the deep past, and the social scientist's comparative methods to make sense of the past, present, and future — in a way no one has ever done before.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 11:11
by ldev
Extraordinarily perceptive and a delight to read.

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Format: Hardcover, 128pp.
ISBN: 9781400069972
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: November 30, 2010

The Bed of Procrustes is rich in intellectually satisfying and considered thoughts from the meditations of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The title, based on the Procrustes of Greek mythology that stretched or chopped off the legs of guests to make them fit his bed, is analogous of his observation of the human tendency to try to make fit that which we understand and lop off that which we don’t. “We humans,” he writes, “facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies, and prepackaged narratives, which, on the occasion, has explosive consequences.”

His thoughts are mostly insightful, prophetic, humbling, disarming, or instructive and only occasionally sound like justifications. All are worth reading and ruminating over. They help us to face a world we frequently don’t understand. Here are a baker's dozen to get you started:
■To understand the liberating effect of asceticism, consider that losing all your fortune is much less painful than losing only half of it.
■Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the nonsucker, not exactly the same thing.
■People reserve standard compliments for those who do not threaten their pride; the others they often praise by calling “arrogant.”
■I’d rather be unconditional about ethics and conditional about technology than the reverse.
■Nobody wants to be perfectly transparent; not to others, certainly not to himself.
■Your reputation is harmed the most by what you say to defend it.
■I wonder whether a bitter enemy would be jealous if he discovered that I hated someone else.
■Someone who says “I am busy” is either declaring incompetence (and lack of control of his life) or trying to get rid of you.
■Modernity: We created youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur.
■If my detractors knew me better they would hate me even more.
■The twentieth century was the bankruptcy of the social utopia; the twenty-first will be that of the technological one.
■True humility is when you can surprise yourself more than others; the rest is either shyness or good marketing.
When reading Taleb’s aphorisms, we might keep this final one in mind: An idea starts to be interesting when you get scared of taking it to its logical conclusion.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 20:50
by Rony
ldev wrote:A great book. Have run through the first 100 pages or so. Should be read without blinkers.

Why the West Rules - For Now
The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future
Written by Ian Morris
Category: History - Civilization; History - Social History; History - World
Format: Hardcover, 768 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: 978-0-7710-6455-5 (0-7710-6455-1)

However, as the West led for 9,000 of the previous 10,000 years, it wasn't just a temporary aberration. So, if we want to know why the West rules, we need a whole new theory.

What is the basis of this assumption that west led for 9,000 of the previous 10,000 years ?

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 21:31
by ldev
He has constructed an index of various measures, given each of them equal weights and then measured then from the earliest possible times to the present day. Obviously he has given reasons as to why those particular measures (and not others) and why equal weights. The further back in time you go, he has had to rely on archaelogical records of excavation. Such records are available in certain parts of the world and not in others. He has chosen a time where archaelogy indicates that a distinct "West" (on the north western boundaries of present day Iraq, before the Arab invasion) and distinct "East" (in the middle part of present day China) emerged and can be defined going back to about 14,000 BC in the case of the West and a few thousand years later in the case of the East.

As I said I am going slowly through the book. Have read the first 100 pages so far.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 22:24
by JE Menon
ldev have you read the Taleb book? is that comment at the very top your view... Need to know before I put the order on Amazon...

Damn, I'm sure I put this question here before but can't seem to find it..

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 23:46
by ldev
Extraordinarily perceptive and a delight to read.


Yes, that is my comment. And yes, I am reading it right now. A great book.

PS: Given below are a couple more gems from the hundreds in the book.

Finer men tolerate others's small inconsistencies though not the large ones; the weak tolerate others' large inconsistencies though not small ones.

A good maxim allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 25 Dec 2010 21:56
by ramana

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World

University Of Chicago Press (November 30, 2010) | ISBN: 0226556654 | 538 pages |

The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India began to embrace neoliberal ideas of economics and attributed a sense of dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie they had denied for so long. The result was an explosion in economic growth and proof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe.

Or so says Deirdre N. McCloskey in Bourgeois Dignity, a fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Here she turns her attention to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism. According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn’t grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity.

The much derided "baniafication" of the economy by the Indian Left Liberal elites.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 25 Dec 2010 22:12
by ramana
Gijs Kruijtzer - Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India

Publisher: Amsterdam University Press | 2009-06-11 | ISBN: 9087280688 | 326 pages |

It is tempting to think of precolonial India as a harmonious society, but was it? This study brings evidence from new and unexpected sources to take position in the sensitive debate over that question. From the investigation of six conflicts in the Deccan region it draws conclusions about group behaviour that put modern clashes in context. Some of the conflicts under investigation appear odd today but were very real to the involved, as the antagonism between Left and Right Hand castes was for about a thousand years. Other conflicts continue to the present day: the seventeenth century saw lasting changes in the relationship between Hindus and Muslims as well as the rise of patriotism and early nationalism in both India and Europe. This book carefully brings to life the famous and obscure people who made the era, from the Dutch painter Heda to queen Khadija and from maharaja Shivaji to the English rebel Keigwin.

Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 31 Dec 2010 22:22
by ramana
Nick Robins, "The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational"
Pl-o Press | 2006 | ISBN: 0745325246 | 224 pages |

This is a popular history of one of the world's most famous companies. Founded in 1600, the East India Company was the forerunner of the modern multinational. Starting life as a trader in Asian spices, the Company ended its days running Britain's Indian empire. In the process, it shocked its contemporaries with the scale of its violence, corruption and speculation.

This is the first-ever book to expose the Company's social record. Robins reveals a hidden story of tragedy and intrigue. War, famine, stock-market bubbles and even duels between rival executives are all to be found in this new account. For Robins, the Company's legacy provides compelling lessons on how to ensure the accountability of today's global business.


Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009

Posted: 02 Jan 2011 01:37
by ramana
Irony of Manifest Destiny

William Pfaff.


“In an age of charlatans and poseurs, William Pfaff has long stood for realism and sobriety. With its penetrating critique of the secular utopianism that perverts American statecraft, The Irony of Manifest Destiny affirms his standing as our wisest critic of U.S. foreign policy.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power and Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War

“Eleanor Roosevelt once said that wishful thinking was America’s ‘besetting sin.’ In an era of seemingly permanent war, when the doctrine of American exceptionalism and the manifest destiny of the United States reigns virtually unchallenged in Washington, William Pfaff’s lucid, dismayed commentary on the follies of such triumphalism has been an island of reason in the imperial sea. If his prescriptions, which hearken back to the America of foreign policy commonsense—that is, to George Kennan rather than George W. Bush, and, alas Barack Obama too—had been followed, the United States and the world would be in a far, far better situation. As things stand, though, Pfaff’s clarity and rigor at least offer posterity a way of understanding what actually happened, and why, when national power and national blindness combined to lead the United States down the path of utopian nationalism and in the process become both a danger to the world and to itself.”—David Rieff, author of At The Point of a Gun

“Anyone fortunate enough to have read the International Herald Tribune over the last several decades knows William Pfaff as the thoughtful and original American heir to George Kennan’s sober Niebuhurian realism. Now, in his brilliant new essay on American foreign policy, Pfaff has applied his prudent realist vision to deconstructing the “tragedy” of America’s global interventionism. In the name of what he calls “secular utopianism,” Pfaff sees in America’s increasingly imperialist foreign policy a residue of Enlightenment exceptionalism – America as a beacon of liberty and democracy’s global “keeper.” He shows persuasively why al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism are less perilous than we think, why our interventions in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan are successors to the futility of Vietnam, and why – despite his new spirit of multilateralism – President Obama is caught up in overseas policies likely to fail. This is a book by an American looking from the outside in that needs to be read by every political leader and thinker caught on the inside looking out – most of all by President Obama, who celebrates Niebuhr in theory but seems caught up in the insidious practices of Dick Cheney and George Bush, Jr.”—Benjamin R. Barber, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos, author, Consumed and Jihad vs. McWorld

Product Description

"For years," William Pfaff writes, "there has been little or no critical reexamination of how and why the successful postwar American policy of 'patient but firm containment of Soviet expansionist tendencies…has over decades turned into a vast project for ending tyranny in the world. We defend this position by making the claim that the United States possesses an exceptional status among nations that confers upon it special international responsibilities, and exceptional privileges in meeting those responsibilities. This is where the problem lies. It has become somewhat of a national heresy to suggest the U .S. does not have a unique moral status and role to play in the history of nations and therefore in the affairs of the contemporary world. In fact it does not."
Cogently, thoughtfully, powerfully, Pfaff lays out the historical roots behind the American exceptionalism that animates our politics and foreign relations—and makes clear why it is flawed and must ultimately fail. Those roots lie in the secularization of western society brought about by the Enlightenment, and in America's effective separation from the common history of the west during the nineteenth and early parts of the twentieth century, during which it failed to gain "the indispensable experience Europeans have acquired of modern ideological folly and national tragedy." We are, thus, hubristic and naïve in our adventurism, and blind to the truth of the threats we face. No mere critic, Pfaff offers insightful observations on how we can and must adapt to Muslim extremism, nuclear competition, and other challenges of our time.

hat tip to Rupak

Posted: 02 Jan 2011 18:01
by Amitava
Stephen Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta gives a shout-out to Rupak in Arming without Aiming.

In the notes section there are copious references to his articles including:
Cohen and Dasgupta wrote:16. Rupak Chattopadhyay, "The Indian Air Force: Flying into the 21st Century", ....
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid. Chattopadhyay offers a subtle discussion of how these have been pursued by the IAF over the last decade.
Cohen and Dasgupta wrote:43. Rupak Chattopadhyay, "The Indian Air Force: Flying into the 21st Century".
Chattopadhyay is a formidable expert on the IAF and lives in Canada.

Hat tip to Rupak :D