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In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,415 ratings  ·  285 reviews
Product Condition: Pen / Pencil Marks.
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 16th 2007 by Doubleday (first published August 24th 2006)
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Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I'll be frank - each part of the book is factual and correct. Yet, it misses the mark as whole. Reading Mr. Luce's biography, I had expected he is a westerner (for want of a better word) who also understands the spirit of what drives India as a nation. After reading his book, I have realized yet again, that living in India with a mindset of a non-Indian makes you a good factual historian but not someone who can put a finger on India's nerve. Most of his book is spent on the corruption and indivi ...more
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world, 4-star-reads

Warning - this review contains many spoilers

In Luce’s book, India is a land of a few brilliant high flyers on the one hand, and poverty-stricken masses on the other. The high flyers have brought success to their homeland, but he barely touches up their achievements, instead the book concentrates on the wrongs experienced by the bulk of the population. I found the book quite a hotch-potch of information , but fascinating nonetheless.

Problems with the bulk of the poplulation

*There is fantasticall
Dec 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Edward Luce remains obstinately superficial throughout this book, approaching India as a mass statistic or collective social trend, rather than an organic, dynamic country. It can be a little slow and, I think, reductive, though that's not to say his observations don't have any truth to them. Much of his observations, are, however, pretty obvious, or have been made elsewhere. This is a broad and studied book, but not engaging, as Luce almost completely ignores the social atmosphere of India (a s ...more
Jun 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
Here's my review on this bad book on amazon.

"I am sure at the end of this review most of you will stamp me as fanatic who 's not willing to see the shortfalls of India. However, please consider my observation before making your decision. I was disappointed in this book because it has no point! Am not sure he established why india is successful or if it was inspite of the gods. In my opinion, this was a feeble attempt by a journalist who was not qualified to comment on either one of the topics. M
Theresa Mannix
Jun 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in India, of course.
My limited view of India was of a country of Bollywood movies, curry, Indian customer service call centers, poverty, hundreds of millions of people, slums and more poverty. This pretty readable book gave me a, well, broader view of India. It's a crazy place--incredible diversity with a democracy that seems to work. Some facts just stuck with me: less than 10% of India's 1.1 billion people work in the formal work force and 80% of them work for the government. The bureaucracy is monumentally corru ...more
Satyaki Mitra
An extensively researched and comprehensive book which provides some fascinating insights into the workings of the modern Indian political and economic system. The book is replete with quotes of conversations with not just local and national politicians but also judges,entrepreneurs,social activists and so on, some of these conversations in the interviews(that are sprawling throughout the book) are exceedingly interesting.
The wide ranging discussions on India's economy like it's capital-intensiv
Wilson Tomba
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engagingly written and a very good primer for all those interested in India. If after finishing this book you feel hungry for more, I'd recommend you pick up a more scholarly account of Indian History such as this one:
India After Gandhi The History of the World
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
Clearly a book intended to introduce the mess that is India to non-Indian audience; nothing new is to be gleaned from it.

A condescending tone permeates proceedings for the most part, with only the India-China-US relations bit having the capability to incite interest. As a financial journalist, Edward Luce tends to wear numbers as the cloak of well-intentioned objectivity - this does not mean anything other than the predictable favoring of the market economy, the population-related issues, the c
Sumirti Singaravel
Of all the books which purports to portray India in its recent times, this one by Mr.Luce does a greater justice to the subject at hand and the land it intends to portray. The essays on the Indian bureaucracy(which most often than not is bureau'crazy') and the unbiased account of the plight of untouchables and the raise of middle class makes the whole reading worthy. Definitely an admirable work.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, não-ficção
Unbearably dry collection of statistics, interviews with randoms and vaguely offensive observations on India.
Gaurav Bhati
Dec 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
After much coercion from my wife, I decided to finally read this one. My wife loved this book, I am, however, not impressed. The book is a shallow account of a very complex topic. Author has decided to juggle with many topics and as a result - book lacks depth. A more apt title for the book could have been 'India for Dummies'.

The book starts well and mentions some statistics which, to an informed reader, should not be new but are damning enough to force some soul-searching. Why even after ~70
May 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book by Edward Luce, a British journalist who served many years in India, is a very insightful study of the complexities and contradictions of today's India and its development. It doesn't get carried away by India's burgeoning IT sector or its middle class or its pharmaceutical and other sectors which are doing well in a globalized world. It balances it with disturbing facts such as the following:
that only 0.1% of India's workforce is employed by the IT sector; that only 0.7% India's workf
Andrew Daniels
Oct 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: post-cold-war
Terrible book, where the author wrote done whatever nonsense he felt like it without fact checking anything or doing research. Its one of the superficial travelogue type books that people write, 'oh I went to this country and I talked to a bunch of people and this is what I heard'-type of book. Clearly doesn't speak Hindi, and didn't do a lot of book reading. Comes across like glib colourful writing.
There is a lot of anecdotes about I talked to this random Indian guy and this is what he said

He s
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in modern India
Shelves: non-fiction
While a few years old, it's still a good read on the subject since it covers the development of post-colonial India and not just current events. If you haven't read any general history on modern India, this would make a good start.

Most of the problems in covered in this book are still there and there seems to be little change. The level of corruption mentioned in the book seems insane, but 1800's America had similar levels. On the other hand, the Indian voting system is more modern and efficien
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty good observational/journalistic account of contemporary India from the perspective of a foreign observer. Documents many challenges that India faces like the all encompassing corruption, rising inequality, and Hindu nationalism. A good book as far as the presentation of facts is concerned but not so much regarding some of his conclusions or suggestions.
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Meh. Not as funny as he (or his editor) thinks he is, and the story is strongly tipped towards why India sucks instead of finding a balance. It's easy to recognize that India has problems and I was hoping for a discussion of why the author says he learned to love it.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book's thesis is that India is rising to be this capitalistic superpower despite it's strong history of being a spiritual country. The book highlights way more the rise of capitalism than talking abt the spiritual history and present.
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
The book won't offer anything that you didn't know before. Luce is yet another westerner who tried to judge India with his western stereotypical benchmarks.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
The official description on the site, which may or may not represent the book or the author, and might very well be an editorial comment, goes :-

"India remains a mystery to many Americans, even as it is poised to become the world 19s third largest economy within a generation, outstripping Japan. It will surpass China in population by 2032 and will have more English speakers than the United States by 2050. In In Spite of the Gods , Edward Luce, a journalist who covered India for many years, make
Michael Connolly
Feb 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, india
The author is a reporter for the British newspaper, the Financial Times, who is married to an indian woman.
Mohandas K. Gandhi was a proponent of a traditional, rural India.
The main political party in India is the Congress Party, whose most famous leader was Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru was a proponent of British culture. Nehru was born a Brahmin, but did not support the caste system. His support of Fabian socialism and disdain for capitalism came in part from his dislike of the bania castes of money
Ved Gupta
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was not very excited when I picked up this book (title hinted towards religious philosophy in India) but surprisingly this book turned out to be spell-bounding work on contemporary India. Even though Edward Luce has much of his background in financial reporting, he captured the philosophy and details of rising India quite beautifully. Edward Luce knows how India works and how the society moves here. The book is full of interviews with small and big names varying from Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandh ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Suppose you threw a dinner party and your guests represented the entire population of the world. You only have 22 seats at your table, so some gusts must share. Because of its dangerous nature, you decide that the US gets one whole seat to itself. India gets almost four of your remaining chairs and China takes up the next four and a half. By contrast, England must share its seat with five other nations.

Clearly when you take up that many plates, you should be paid some respect. Yet other than ta
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm traveling to India in March and knew next to nothing about India when I started this book. I came away with a much better understanding of the conflicts and dichotomies India grapples with as exponential development continues: Hindus and Muslims, Brahmins and Dalits, rapid urban development and abject rural poverty, democracy and corruption. For the most part, I found Luce informative and engaging. The material could be dry, but I appreciated that he spiced it up with anecdotes and vignettes ...more
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book that attempts to grasp the multi-tentacled creature that is modern India. It's written in a relaxed manner, with insightful commentary on many topics, including India's challenged economy, state-approved corruption, Hindu nationalism, and the upcoming AIDS pandemic.

I especially appreciated the first chapter on India's economy. It's hard to understand India's claim to global power status when millions upon millions of its people continue to live in crushing poverty.

What is the answ
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
I was not crazy about this book. I only got about halfway through it before giving up. It did not flow well. The author intersperses his research about and analysis of India with lots of random anecdotes of his encounters with different people. There is interesting information about India in this book if you can get through the countless anecdotes. I may try reading it again sometime, but for now, it is not capturing my attention.
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book was extremely dry read, but also pretty informative, especially about Indian politics of the 60's and 70's. I didn't know much about the history of Indian politics and economic issues, and this taught me some. I never finished the last few chapters because I just couldn't force myself to keep reading.
May 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
This should have been wonderful.
Chapter 8 should have been first as the most naturally narrative of al
The remainder was a bus timetable of many events.
This should have been a memorable read from a journalist well placed to create a story of India with factual references keeping the mixture thick and informative.
Sadly flatly droning. Disappointing.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Good at providing some stats
Seems to have a very superficial and often wrong understanding of history and context.

Gives a very distorted view disconnected from reality.

Read it with a "spoon" of salt.
Apr 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Could not finish the last third. Not really a book for someone trying to educate themselves about India. More a book for people who know a good deal about it and want a different take on things.
Umesh Kesavan
This book captures the essence of Indian polity,economy and society much better than the much hyped Patrick French's " India- a portrait"
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