A Brief History of the Great Moghuls


Bamber Gascoigne - 1971
    The book deals with one of the most interesting periods of Indian history, the 16th and 17th centuries, providing a picture of the country's most flamboyant rulers, their sublime palaces, their passions, art, science and religion, and their system of administration.

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


Edward Luce - 2006
    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, makes brilliant sense of India and its rise to global power. Already a number-one bestseller in India, his book is sure to be acknowledged for years as the definitive introduction to modern India. In Spite of the Gods illuminates a land of many contradictions. The booming tech sector we read so much about in the West, Luce points out, employs no more than one million of India’s 1.1 billion people. Only 35 million people, in fact, have formal enough jobs to pay taxes, while three-quarters of the country lives in extreme deprivation in India’s 600,000 villages. Yet amid all these extremes exists the world’s largest experiment in representative democracy—and a largely successful one, despite bureaucracies riddled with horrifying corruption. Luce shows that India is an economic rival to the U.S. in an entirely different sense than China is. There is nothing in India like the manufacturing capacity of China, despite the huge potential labor force. An inept system of public education leaves most Indians illiterate and unskilled. Yet at the other extreme, the middle class produces ten times as many engineering students a year as the United States. Notwithstanding its future as a major competitor in a globalized economy, American. leaders have been encouraging India’s rise, even welcoming it into the nuclear energy club, hoping to balance China’s influence in Asia. Above all, In Spite of the Gods is an enlightening study of the forces shaping India as it tries to balance the stubborn traditions of the past with an unevenly modernizing present. Deeply informed by scholarship and history, leavened by humor and rich in anecdote, it shows that India has huge opportunities as well as tremendous challenges that make the future “hers to lose.”

Urban Naxals


Vivek Agnihotri - 2018
    Naxalites are waging war on India with details plans for an overthrow of the State. Urban Naxals act to amplify their message, serve as recruiters and wage a propaganda war through social and conventional media. This gripping story recounts Agnihotri's own grooming in College to be an Urban Naxal and details the plans and modus operandi of the movement. Agnihotri's story is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of "Buddha in a Traffic Jam", the violent resistance to its screening, and an expose of the world's largest extreme-left terror movement and its penetration into urban India.

Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century


Marc Sageman - 2007
    It is now more a source of inspiration for terrorist acts carried out by independent local groups that have branded themselves with the Al Qaeda name. Building on his previous groundbreaking work on the Al Qaeda network, forensic psychiatrist Marc Sageman has greatly expanded his research to explain how Islamic terrorism emerges and operates in the twenty-first century.In Leaderless Jihad, Sageman rejects the views that place responsibility for terrorism on society or a flawed, predisposed individual. Instead, he argues, the individual, outside influence, and group dynamics come together in a four-step process through which Muslim youth become radicalized. First, traumatic events either experienced personally or learned about indirectly spark moral outrage. Individuals interpret this outrage through a specific ideology, more felt and understood than based on doctrine. Usually in a chat room or other Internet-based venues, adherents share this moral outrage, which resonates with the personal experiences of others. The outrage is acted on by a group, either online or offline.Leaderless Jihad offers a ray of hope. Drawing on historical analogies, Sageman argues that the zeal of jihadism is self-terminating; eventually its followers will turn away from violence as a means of expressing their discontent. The book concludes with Sageman's recommendations for the application of his research to counterterrorism law enforcement efforts.

The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young


Somini Sengupta - 2016
    Returning thirty years later as the bureau chief for The New York Times, she found a vastly different country: one defined as much by aspiration and possibility—at least by the illusion of possibility—as it is by the structures of sex and caste. The End of Karma is an exploration of this new India through the lens of young people from different worlds: a woman who becomes a Maoist rebel; a brother charged for the murder of his sister, who had married the “wrong” man; a woman who opposes her family and hopes to become a police officer. Driven by aspiration—and thwarted at every step by state and society—they are making new demands on India’s democracy for equality of opportunity, dignity for girls, and civil liberties. Sengupta spotlights these stories of ordinary men and women, weaving together a groundbreaking portrait of a country in turmoil.

Pakistan: A Hard Country


Anatol Lieven - 2011
    With almost 200 million people, a 500,000-man army, nuclear weapons, and a large diaspora in Britain and North America, Pakistan is central to the hopes of jihadis and the fears of their enemies. Yet the greatest short-term threat to Pakistan is not Islamist insurgency as such, but the actions of the United States, and the greatest long-term threat is ecological change. Anatol Lieven's book is a magisterial investigation of this highly complex and often poorly understood country: its regions, ethnicities, competing religious traditions, varied social landscapes, deep political tensions, and historical patterns of violence; but also its surprising underlying stability, rooted in kinship, patronage, and the power of entrenched local elites. Engagingly written, combining history and profound analysis with reportage from Lieven's extensive travels as a journalist and academic, Pakistan: A Hard Country is both utterly compelling and deeply revealing.

The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity


Amartya Sen - 2005
    The Argumentative Indian is "a bracing sweep through aspects of Indian history and culture, and a tempered analysis of the highly charged disputes surrounding these subjects--the nature of Hindu traditions, Indian identity, the country's huge social and economic disparities, and its current place in the world" (Sunil Khilnani, Financial Times, U.K.).

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China


Evan Osnos - 2014
    What we don't see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes. As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals-fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture-consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth? Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.

Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East


Gita Mehta - 1979
    An Indian writer who has also lived in England and the United States, Gita Mehta was ideally placed to observe the spectacle of European and American "pilgrims" interacting with their hosts. When she finally recorded her razor sharp observations in Karma Cola, the book became an instant classic for describing, in merciless detail, what happens when the traditions of an ancient and longlived society are turned into commodities and sold to those who don't understand them.In the dazzling prose that has become her trademark, Mehta skewers the entire Spectrum of seekers: The Beatles, homeless students, Hollywood rich kids in detox, British guilt-trippers, and more. In doing so, she also reveals the devastating byproducts that the Westerners brought to the villages of rural lndia -- high anxiety and drug addiction among them.Brilliantly irreverent, Karma Cola displays Gita Mehta's gift for weaving old and new, common and bizarre, history and current events into a seamless and colorful narrative that is at once witty, shocking, and poignant.

Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan


Robert D. Kaplan - 1990
    Kaplan braved the dangers of war-ravaged Afghanistan in the 1980s, living among the mujahidin—the “soldiers of god”—whose unwavering devotion to Islam fueled their mission to oust the formidable Soviet invaders. In Soldiers of God we follow Kaplan’s extraordinary journey and learn how the thwarted Soviet invasion gave rise to the ruthless Taliban and the defining international conflagration of the twenty-first century.Kaplan returns a decade later and brings to life a lawless frontier. What he reveals is astonishing: teeming refugee camps on the deeply contentious Pakistan-Afghanistan border; a war front that combines primitive fighters with the most technologically advanced weapons known to man; rigorous Islamic indoctrination academies; a land of minefields plagued by drought, fierce tribalism, insurmountable ethnic and religious divisions, an abysmal literacy rate, and legions of war orphans who seek stability in military brotherhood. Traveling alongside Islamic guerrilla fighters, sharing their food, observing their piety in the face of deprivation, and witnessing their determination, Kaplan offers a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of a people and a country that are at the center of world events.

Descent into Chaos: The United States & the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan & Central Asia


Ahmed Rashid - 2007
    His unique knowledge of this complex, war-torn region gives him a panoramic vision and grasp of nuance that no Western writer can emulate.

Kashmir: A Case of Freedom


Tariq Ali - 2011
    Internationally, their struggle is forgotten, as the West refuses to bring pressure to bear on its regional ally India. Kashmir: The Case for Freedom is an impassioned attempt to redress this imbalance and to fill the gap in our moral imagination. Covering Kashmir’s past and present and the occupation’s causes and consequences, the authors issue a clarion call for the withdrawal of Indian troops and for Kashmir’s right to self-determination.

Khomeini's Ghost: The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Militant Islam


Con Coughlin - 2009
    More than thirty years after Khomeini’s return to Tehran and the subsequent rebirth of Iran as an Islamic Republic, Khomeini’s Ghost offers an intimate, richly detailed portrait of the fundamentalist leader and architect of Iran’s adversarial relationship with the West—a man whose legacy has influenced history and policy, and will continue to do so for generations to come.

The Doctor and the Saint: Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste


Arundhati Roy - 2017
    “It has entrenched and modernized it.”To best understand caste today in India, Roy insists we must examine the influence of Gandhi in shaping what India ultimately became: independent of British rule, globally powerful, and marked to this day by the caste system.““For more than half a century—throughout his adult life—[Gandhi’s] pronouncements on the inherent qualities of black Africans, untouchables and the laboring classes remained consistently insulting,”“ writes Roy. ““His refusal to allow working-class people and untouchables to create their own political organizations and elect their own representatives remained consistent too.”“In The Doctor and the Saint, Roy reveals some uncomfortable, even controversial, truths about the political thought and career of India’s most famous, and most revered figure. At the same time, Roy makes clear that what millions of Indians need is not merely formal democracy, but liberation from the oppression, shame, and poverty imposed on them by India’s archaic caste system.Praise for Arundhati Roy““Arundhati Roy is incandescent in her brilliance and her fearlessness.”“—Junot Díaz““The fierceness with which Arundhati Roy loves humanity moves my heart.”“—Alice WalkerArundhati Roy studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives. She is the author of the novel The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. The novel has been translated into forty languages worldwide. She has written several non-fiction books, including Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers and Capitalism: A Ghost Story.

The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857


William Dalrymple - 2006
    As the British Commissioner in charge insisted, “No vestige will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests.” Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, an accomplished poet and a skilled calligrapher. But while his Mughal ancestors had controlled most of India, the aged Zafar was king in name only. Deprived of real political power by the East India Company, he nevertheless succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history.Then, in 1857, Zafar gave his blessing to a rebellion among the Company’s own Indian troops, thereby transforming an army mutiny into the largest uprising any empire had to face in the entire course of the nineteenth century. The Siege of Delhi was the Raj’s Stalingrad: one of the most horrific events in the history of Empire, in which thousands on both sides died. And when the British took the city—securing their hold on the subcontinent for the next ninety years—tens of thousands more Indians were executed, including all but two of Zafar’s sixteen sons. By the end of the four-month siege, Delhi was reduced to a battered, empty ruin, and Zafar was sentenced to exile in Burma. There he died, the last Mughal ruler in a line that stretched back to the sixteenth century.Award-winning historian and travel writer William Dalrymple shapes his powerful retelling of this fateful course of events from groundbreaking material: previously unexamined Urdu and Persian manuscripts that include Indian eyewitness accounts and records of the Delhi courts, police and administration during the siege. The Last Mughal is a revelatory work—the first to present the Indian perspective on the fall of Delhi—and has as its heart both the dazzling capital personified by Zafar and the stories of the individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history.