From the Ruins of Empire

From the Ruins of Empire

The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia

Book - 2012
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The Victorian period, viewed in the West as a time of self-confident progress, was experienced by Asians as a catastrophe. As the British gunned down the last heirs to the Mughal Empire, burned down the Summer Palace in Beijing, or humiliated the bankrupt rulers of the Ottoman Empire, it was clear that for Asia to recover a vast intellectual effort would be required.

Pankaj Mishra's fascinating, highly entertaining new book tells the story of a remarkable group of men from across the continent who met the challenge of the West. Incessantly travelling, questioning and agonising, they both hated the West and recognised that an Asian renaissance needed to be fuelled in part by engagement with the enemy. Through many setbacks and wrong turns, a powerful, contradictory and ultimately unstoppable series of ideas were created that now lie behind everything from the Chinese Communist Party to Al Qaeda, from Indian nationalism to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mishra allows the reader to see the events of two centuries anew, through the eyes of the journalists, poets, radicals and charismatics who criss-crossed Europe and Asia and created the ideas which lie behind the powerful Asian nations of the twenty-first century.

Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, [2012]
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9780385676106
Characteristics: xi, 356 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Feb 01, 2013

A very uneven, frustrating book. Some great research and some fascinating background material, but also at times very shoddy. Although presented as an introduction to the issues, it is not actually a good place to start if you aren't already familiar with the history of, among other things the Ottoman Empire or Iran or India or Japan. A better book is waiting to be written on the same topic.

Constance Kenney
Dec 08, 2012

in response to the person who found serious deficiencies in this book...there is another book with the same title (perhaps coming first) but with a different subtitle; THE REVOLT AGAINST THE WEST AND THE REMAKING OF ASIA . Reviewing it on it has an excellent prologue which would be important in reading the book. I ordered it because it is the kind of book I may not read all at once and want to reread later or pass along.

In response to the person giving the CBC interview information...thank-you.

This is an important effort, but I found Mishra's prose style choppy and the level of detail cumbersome. Since it's meant to function as an introduction to the topic, these are serious deficiencies. I felt hampered by my lack of background in the subject and frustrated by an extremely poor index that made it almost impossible to revisit the author's earlier descriptions of items when they were mentioned again. I'm glad I finished the book, but it was a slog.

Sep 26, 2012

The author was interviewed on the CBC Radio "The Current" program on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Listen to the interview at: Mishra was asked to comment on the six "killer apps" enumerated by historian Niall Ferguson in his book "Civilization: the West and the rest".

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