Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Book Reviews: Pakistan, India, China

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Survival 62-5 Book Reviews – South Asia

September 28, 2020: Three very different books caught my eye this year. Mariam Abou Zahab’s Pakistan: A Kaleidoscope of Islam provides a close-up and granular picture of a variety of strands of the Islamist movement. Her basic argument is that while the movement is usually described in ideological terms, the rivalries within it almost always turn on much more concrete local issues. Especially fascinating is her picture of Jhang, an area well known for having chiefly Shi’a landowners and Sunni laborers. Montek Ahluwalia’s autobiography, Backstage: The Story behind India’s High Growth Years, is an engaging account of his own life before he became one of India’s best known public servants and half of the country’s premier “economist power couple. Lots of economic analysis, leavened with a wonderful depiction of the personalities and professional cultures involved. Finally, in Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped India-US Relations during the Cold War, Tanvi Madan challenges much of the conventional wisdom about the awkward India-US relationship during India’s first three decades of independence. She argues that the way India and the United States were positioning themselves vis-a-vis China led to ebbs and flows in US-India ties. This story ends before today’s US-India relationship took shape – but Ms. Madan is working on another book, so we can hope the story is continued.

Click here to read review.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Available online at: http://www.iiss.org/publications/survival/.

 

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In Memoriam, Stephen P. Cohen, 1936-2019

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December 6, 2019: The first time Steve Cohen came into the lives of the Schaffer family was when he turned up in New Delhi as a grad student some time in the early/mid 1960s. My late husband, Howard Schaffer, was a young political officer at the U.S. Embassy; Steve was on his way to becoming one of the pioneers among the U.S. academics specializing in the region. What both men remembered was that it was freezing cold. Steve curled up in a blanket in Howard’s apartment to keep warm.

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Book Reviews 2019: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

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October 29, 2019: This year’s book reviews include two that focus on the relationship between Islamist extremism and broader national life – Madiha Afzal, writing about Pakistan, and Joseph Allchin, examining Bangladesh. The other three are primarily historical, but examine the historical roots of issues that are still with us. Srinath Raghavan puts his historian’s scalpel to work dissecting the US approach to South Asia, along three axes: power, ideology, and culture. Gyan Prakash looks at India’s Emergency, arguing that the stage was set for it decades earlier. And Walter Andersen and Sridhar Damle, in a sequel to their earlier classic book on the Hindutva movement, analyze the RSS and its role in Indian life and politics.

Read full reviews here.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Book Reviews: Pakistan and India

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November 9, 2018: Among this year’s good reads on South Asia one is on Pakistan/Afghanistan, Steve Coll’s Directorate S, which picks up the story he began in Ghost Wars about the way these two countries and the United States interacted during the decade and a half starting in 2001. One is on India, a riveting addition to the “New India” literature by James Crabtree, former Financial Times correspondent in Mumbai, aptly titled The Billionaire Raj. The other three look at Pakistan and India: Spy Chronicles, an extended long interview by two former intelligence chiefs from the two rivals, which will probably tell you more about how each related to his own government than about how the two countries relate; The People Next Door, by a former Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan, with a sensitively drawn take on how the two countries look at each other; and Moeed Yusuf’s Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments, about the challenges that a multi-player environment adds to the Cold War era conventional wisdom about nuclear negotiations.

Read full review here.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Book Reviews: India and Pakistan

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February 26, 2018: This year’s crop includes three masterful books about India. Shivshankar Menon, known to many of our readers as one of the leading lights of Indian foreign policy, has written a slim volume, Choices, about key points where India was forced, however reluctantly, to choose between two incompatible policy paths. This is a problem it will confront more frequently as its power expands. Vinay Sitapati’s Half Lion sketches the life of Narasimha Rao, whom the author regards as one of the unsung heroes of recent Indian history. Milan Vaishnav has brought political science to life with When Crime Pays, about the relationship between money and muscle in Indian politics. On the Pakistan side, Owen Sirrs has tried to demystify the ISI – Inter Services Intelligence Directorate. And Daniel Haines’ Rivers Divided looks at the Indus Waters Treaty – the most durable accord between India and Pakistan – from the perspective of the negotiating constraints on both sides.

 

Read the whole review here.

 

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Review of “India at the Global High Table”

Kishan Rana’s review of our India at the Global High Table appeared in the October 2016 issue9789350297858-1 of The Book Review, New Delhi. The book was published in India by HarperCollins in July 2016, and in Washington by Brookings Institution Press in April 2016. Read the review here. A short review from the September issue of Foreign Affairs appears here.

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Book Reviews: South Asia

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from flickr, www.flickr.com/photos/rishibando/7666817406/in/photolist

September 21, 2016: Five interesting additions to the South Asia literature this year. Robert Crews’ Afghan Modern depicts Afghanistan as a nation formed by intense interaction with global powers – an arresting thesis, though he left out some important counterweights. A.S. Dulat, Indian intelligence chief with deep experience in Kashmir, gave us Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, an irreverent and surprisingly sensible account whose punch line was that talking to everyone is the only way out of today’s impasse. Mark Salter’s To End a Civil War goes deeply into Norway’s effort to resolve Sri Lanka’s two-decade ethnic conflict. Somini Sengupta, a New York Times reporter who spent years in India, provides an extraordinary picture of the “New India.” And Alex Vatanka’s Iran and Pakistan is, surprisingly, the first serious book I have seen on that important relationship.

 

Read my reviews of all five books here. 

 

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

 

 

 

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India at the Global High Table: Remarks at Richmond

Photo: www.brookings.edu/research/books/2016/india-at-the-global-high-table

Photo: www.brookings.edu/research/books/2016/india-at-the-global-high-table

May 10, 2016: Introducing India at the Global High Table at the Richmond World Affairs Council, we discussed emerging India’s international role, focusing on the main themes of its foreign policy, the competing visions of India’s role in the world, and some examples of India’s negotiating Style. Books are available at Brookings (http://www.brookings.edu/research/books/2016/india-at-the-global-high-table), at Amazon, and in book stores. The text of our remarks follows:

Good evening.  It’s a great pleasure for my wife and me to come here to Richmond to talk with you about India and the book we’ve written about the drivers of its foreign policy and diplomatic practices. The two of us have spent a good deal of time as State Department officials working in India and dealing in Washington with Indian Read more

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India at the Global High Table

December 21, 2015: The book that we have been working on for three years is going to be published by

Photo: www.brookings.edu/research/books/2016/india-at-the-global-high-table

Brookings Institution Press in the spring of 2016!  We’ve looked at India’s emerging role, global vision, and negotiating style. Read the longer description in the Brookings Press’s preview of “coming attractions.” For those who read our earlier book, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States, the subject matter is similar, but the story it tells is quite different.

We wish all our friends and colleagues a joyful holiday season, and South Asia Hand looks forward to a new year of news – hopefully more of the good kind.

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Book Reviews – India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka

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This year’s publications include five noteworthy books on South Asia. Sanjaya Baru’s  The Accidental Prime Minister paints a close-up portrait of Manmohan Singh and Diego Maiorano’s Autumn of the Matriarch dissects the decline of Nehru’s congress and the rise of a more de-institutionalized party in the last years of Indira Gandhi – interesting contrasts to today’s Modi government. Bidisha Biswas takes a close look at how India has tackled internal conflicts in Managing Conflicts in India. Andrew Small’s The China-Pakistan Axis is the first serious study of this fascinating relationship. And Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island is an intimate look at Sri Lanka’s war and its aftermath, told in unforgettable vignettes.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s reviews here.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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