This is a magnificent work of enormous importance, laying bare the multitudes and layers of errors made by all involved in the last 9 years in Afghanistan in particular, and delivering prescriptions for positive change.
‘If we can better understand what has happened before, what has gone wrong, and what needs to go right, as this book attempts to do, then we can better face up to our collective future.’ p. 404 (final sentence).
Rashid does focus throughout on the ‘what went wrong,’ within each period, within each country, within each layer of strategy. This enormous data set should be extremely useful as we here in the US all hopefully move towards a more nuanced, principled, integrity-rich practice of foreign policy.
The more you already know about Afghanistan and Pakistan and the last decade, the more easily you’ll be able to layer in all of the wealth of information contained here. Myself, I was relatively ignorant, and so felt uncomfortably overwhelmed for some periods. But it eased, and I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book. The writing is lively, engaging, fascinating (even breath-taking in parts) and flows into every nook and cranny related to the subject. So the content is wide-ranging and always rewarding of attention.
Highly recommend to everyone but especially all US citizens as - actively or passively - we played a huge role in the birthing and nurturance of the global threat of terrorism facing us today. And simply detaching is - I don’t believe - a valid option, atleast not until the significant accumulation of damage done from our last several decades of involvement is healed. (less)
Apparently it will be necessary to read this book with a filter, so that the true parts get in and the unsupported conclusions and stereotypes etc.. r...moreApparently it will be necessary to read this book with a filter, so that the true parts get in and the unsupported conclusions and stereotypes etc.. remain inactive. Not sure how to do that.. maybe need to read other things on the same subject first - if there are any?(less)
I have just been having my daughter and I watch the tv mini-series based on this book; both because of Obama's historic inauguration coming up, and be...moreI have just been having my daughter and I watch the tv mini-series based on this book; both because of Obama's historic inauguration coming up, and because she is studying American History this year.
And it's been just as jolting and uncomfortable for me as I thought it would be, but for additional reasons than what I expected.
Of course all the humiliation and degradation and viciousness of the white population is horrifying.
But there were significant things that had escaped my attention when I watched it decades ago.
One, I missed the fact that Kunta Kinte was raised in a Muslim family, a Muslim community. Given the statements of the characters that atleast they were bringing God to a God-less people, that is huge.
The other is the rank insanity and surrealness of the paradigm of slavery created by the slave-owning community. For instance, in the scene just after it was discovered that Kizzy wrote the fake traveling pass for her lover, the slave owner's comments range from 'we're all a family, how could you betray me' to 'as a slave, you must obey'.. and those two paradigms are completely contradictory!
And through and through, if you look at it clearly, it was completely insane. As I've thought about it, it seems to me to an extent the insanity has never ceased.
I mean, first the slaves were freed and promised land - and not given it. So for many the relations remained similar to how it had been. Voting was not allowed. Texas didn't even tell the slaves they were free till forced to by Federal troops two and a half years later!
Physical intimidation has been constant, psychological brutality has been the norm. White expectations about what black people were supposed to be and to do continued to be maelstroms of ignorance and hatred. The civil rights movement came into being to redress wrongs, and was fought by many. Still today, many define themselves by their loyalty to the confederate cause. And racism still exists today in many forms. I'm not explaining that very well, will re-write after viewing again and/or reading this. I just have a kind of horrified sense that not nearly enough has changed.
So, long story short (or is it too late for that?) I'm really interested in reading the book now, to gather more such data and continue my own personal development toward being a white person who's *not* part of the problem, accordingly.(less)
Sounds fascinating in terms of learning the history of the major parties to most of today's conflicts. Depending on how military-ish it is, vs. big pi...moreSounds fascinating in terms of learning the history of the major parties to most of today's conflicts. Depending on how military-ish it is, vs. big picture-synthesis etc.. (less)
From Wikipedia: Dr. Rahi Masoom Reza, born in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh (India) in a Muslim family, was a famous Urdu shayar. He also won the F...more From Wikipedia: Dr. Rahi Masoom Reza, born in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh (India) in a Muslim family, was a famous Urdu shayar. He also won the Filmfare Best Dialogue Award for the hit film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki in 1979. He also wrote in Hindustani and Hindi language. He was also an eminent lyricist of Bollywood.
He wrote the script for a popular TV serial, Mahabharat. The TV serial was based on the epic, the Mahabharata. The serial became one of the most popular TV serial of north India, and its peak Television Rating was around 86%.
... Another novel, named Topi Shukla also revolves around the similar sad theme of social tension between the two largest social groups of India, the Hindus and the Muslims.(less)
Seems like potentially the perfect antidote to my current conundrum of hard-to-read Great Literature ala my daughter's class, and tedious Mom-sourced...moreSeems like potentially the perfect antidote to my current conundrum of hard-to-read Great Literature ala my daughter's class, and tedious Mom-sourced current novels..
And starts out engagingly interestingly!
I've wanted to get around to this for so long, am very excited! ---- Finished 2/26/10: This book deserves a really excellent review. Unfortunately, my time is overcommitted right now especially, and am going through a transition as well. Plus, I just want to re-read it instead of writing anything about it right now!
So, rather than doing any misc paragraphs right now, I think I'll start something in Word and see if it becomes anything good enough to include.
Until then, I'll just list some of my favorite aspects of this: Multiple points of view Day-to-day life details Intimacy details Self-identity construction insets in which a character's life is explored fully, fascinating lots of political content feels true India
If anyone (in the US) is thinking about 'living simply', this book is a great starting point. Middle-class in India can entail a very, very modest lifestyle by US standards. And a couple times in the book, a character feels bad about the luxury around them. Only, they're talking about a towel, or a mattress. This book is great for really getting a serious glimpse at how others - others who are just as real, just as whole, just as smart, just as good, etc.. etc.. - live with much, much less. My extensive clutter looks very different to me now.(less)
Arthur Llewellyn Basham was born on May 24, 1914, in Loughton, Essex, the son of Abraham Arthur Edward Basham and Maria Jane Basham née...more from wikipedia:
Arthur Llewellyn Basham was born on May 24, 1914, in Loughton, Essex, the son of Abraham Arthur Edward Basham and Maria Jane Basham née Thompson. Although an only child, he grew up in Essex with his adopted sister, who was in fact his cousin on his father's side. His father had been a journalist who served in the Indian Army at Kasauli, near Simla during World War I, and it was the stories that his father told him about India that first introduced him to the culture of the country he would devote his professional career to.[1:] His mother was also a journalist and short story writer further instilling a love of language and literature. As a child, he was also introduced to music and learnt to play the piano to a high standard, writing a number of his own compositions by the age of sixteen.(less)
His masterpiece, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (ISBN 0-201-15576-1), published in 1951, put him on the short list of great Indian English wri...moreHis masterpiece, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (ISBN 0-201-15576-1), published in 1951, put him on the short list of great Indian English writers. He courted controversy in the newly independent India in the dedication of the book itself which ran thus:
“ To the memory of the British Empire in India,
Which conferred subjecthood upon us, But withheld citizenship. To which yet every one of us threw out the challenge: "Civis Britannicus sum" Because all that was good and living within us Was made, shaped and quickened By the same British rule.”
The dedication, which was actually a mock-imperial rhetoric, infuriated many Indians, particularly the political and bureaucratic establishment. "The wogs took the bait and having read only dedication sent up howls of protest", commented Chaudhuri's friend, the editor, historian and novelist Khushwant Singh. Chaudhuri was hounded out of government service, deprived of his pension, blacklisted as a writer in India and forced to live a life of penury.
Chaudhuri comented later that he had been misunderstood. "The dedication was really a condemnation of the British rulers for not treating us as equals", he wrote in the Granta article. Typically, to demonstrate what exactly he had been trying to say, he drew on a parallel with ancient Rome. The book's dedication, he said "was an imitation of what Cicero said about the conduct of Verres, a Roman proconsul of Sicily who oppressed Sicilian Roman citizens, although in their desperation they cried out: "Civis Romanus Sum".
# Although he was highly critical of the post-independence Congress party establishment, he was more sympathetic to the right-wing Hindu nationalist movement in India. He refused to criticise the destruction of Babri structure: "I say the Muslims do not have the slightest right to complain the desecration of one mosque. From 1000 AD every Hindu temple from Kathiawar to Bihar, from the Himalayas to Vindhyas had been sacked and defiled." # His views on Hindutva, like those of other scholars like V. S. Naipaul and Koenraad Elst although widely disseminated in the Indian media were not widely appreciated. To this day he remains a controversial figure. # He was also deeply distressed by what he saw as the deep hypocrisy in Bengali social life and in particular those that resulted from class and caste distinctions. His historical research revealed to him that rigid Victorian style morality of middle class Bengali women was a socially enforced construct, that had less to do with religion, choice and judgment, but more to do with upbringing, social acceptance and intergenerational transference of values. Being a scholar in the comparative-historical mode, he could see very clearly that the excessive suppression of sexuality in modern India was actually counterproductive and counterintuitive. In this, it could be argued that he was a student of sociology and was following the footsteps of Max Weber, and to a certain extent, the psychology of Sigmund Freud. Yet in another way, he was also a feminist although he rejected dogmatic feminism quite early in his scholarly career.(less)