Comprehensive and illuminating. There have been advances in the field since its publication, but as an overview goes it pretty much is as good is it cComprehensive and illuminating. There have been advances in the field since its publication, but as an overview goes it pretty much is as good is it can probably get for now....more
An absolute masterpiece! 50 years on, and it still feels so fresh, so vital, today. There's something quite eternal about it despite how rooted the woAn absolute masterpiece! 50 years on, and it still feels so fresh, so vital, today. There's something quite eternal about it despite how rooted the work was in the context of 1950s Britain.
I wouldn't have enjoyed this half as much as if I had read it a couple of years back. The numerous threads that Lessing had woven into Anna's inner experience - the fundamental awkwardness of sexual love, political disaffection by the Left, the emotional discipline imposed on parents by one's offspring, and perhaps most crucially, the constant fracturing of the individual into multiple, conflicting identities...remarkable. The novel's own structure works like a charm. It is authentic.
A very fortunate crossing of paths for me. ...more
- Revised rating, deducting one star => despite much criticism of Rudner's 'antidevelopment' thesis within, no attempt to discuss the highly proble- Revised rating, deducting one star => despite much criticism of Rudner's 'antidevelopment' thesis within, no attempt to discuss the highly problematic issue of estate subdivision which inflated figures for smallholder replanting during the 1950s.
Better than expected - range of primary material is impressive, covering both government and business archives. Prose is unvarnished, making a potentially very complex topic much easier to digest. ...more
This seemed like a fine introduction to the formal British Empire's final years in 'The Great Crescent' of Asia - comprising of what are now the stateThis seemed like a fine introduction to the formal British Empire's final years in 'The Great Crescent' of Asia - comprising of what are now the states of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore. The period covered in detail is relatively brief, between 1945 and (mostly) 1949. Most of what is narrated would probably fall under the rubric of social and political history. The scholarship, while not exhaustive by any means, seems nevertheless very wide-ranging, and strikes a nice balance between detailed description and incisive analysis. The bibliography is also very useful.
Style-wise the writing is mostly rather dry and understated, if somewhat sympathetic all round, and occasionally extremely lurid. I found parts of the narrative genuinely upsetting, so much so that I had to stop reading the book for awhile. Oral testimonies were especially appalling. Some allegations arose from those who were detained en masse during the British-led crackdown that literally ripped apart Chinese communities during the Malayan Emergency: "When I was giving birth to my girl, the British imperialists did not give me anything to eat for a whole day, and after the baby was born I was only given a small piece of bread every day. The most cruel thing was that many female prisoners had to give birth to babies in the corridor of the hospital, and the British imperialists even forced them to drown their own babies in a cess pit"(485). This was only one of the more heartrending mass tragedies that went hand-in-hand with war and state-making in post-WW2 Asia. To be read in conjunction with Forgotten Armies...more
This is a social history of peoples populating the 'crescent' ranging from Calcutta to Singapore during the war. It's meant to be read together with tThis is a social history of peoples populating the 'crescent' ranging from Calcutta to Singapore during the war. It's meant to be read together with the sequel, Forgotten Wars, but I'm not sure if I can afford the time right now...
While India and Thailand are touched on, Burma and Malaya are the twin mainstays of the narrative. Most of the 'hot' events covered in here - the fall of Malaya, the Bengal famine, the routing of the British and so-called shattering of the white supremacy myth - are probably well known to anyone with a secondary school education in the history of the region. They are basically founding pillars on which our local nationalist histories have been built. Bayly and Harper chose to focus on the thoughts, feelings and actions of the disparate local societies (inc. the European 'men on the spot') of what was soon to be known to outsiders, for the first time ever, as 'Southeast Asia'. The Burmese narrative is less well known. Both the civilian and military aspects of government are covered but as mentioned already, the narrative stops at 1945, even prior to Aung San's assassination, making it difficult to forge any substantive connection with the contemporary scene. There is disappointingly little on the motives and thoughts of the Japanese occupiers themselves - I am not sure why.
The narrative is at times almost hypnotic. Minus the usual footnotes, bibliography, etc., it clocks in at 465 pages, but still feels far too short (a good thing). ...more
Very, very dry, but quite informative (yet another former thesis). I believe this is one of the few book-length treatments of the subject which isn'tVery, very dry, but quite informative (yet another former thesis). I believe this is one of the few book-length treatments of the subject which isn't mainly agronomic. There is some economic history in this but nothing very systematic. Most of the book is concerned with mapping and estimating costs of the industry at different stages of production and marketing in order to arrive at an estimate of profitability and future economic prospects for the industry. Many of the trends identified in the book (written in the early 1970s) appear to have come true to some extent. These include the future reorganisation of trade from a north-south to a more south-south orientation. There is, however, no awareness of downstream developments (esp. refining) that were already taking place by the time the book was published (perhaps due to the time gap between thesis completion and publication of the revised reversion. The compiled statistics are quite handy in terms of source tracing, etc....more
This comparative political economy approach to Thailand's 'economic diversification' and 'upgrading' is very, very structuralist; more emphasis on (inThis comparative political economy approach to Thailand's 'economic diversification' and 'upgrading' is very, very structuralist; more emphasis on (institutional) economic history than political history; more analytical weight on proximate causes rather than deeper historical antecedents; and certainly more interest in growth than redistribution. The historical narratives have been clearly bent to fit the emphasis on institutions and economic growth, but in the process a great deal of the essence of politics - both domestic and international - has been shelved. What remains almost seems like an afterthought, with some very jagged edges left flapping. Like the neoclassical economic strand from which it descends, the book is not as normatively neutral as it appears to be at first glance. Some political economists may prefer it this way of course...each to his own. ...more