2012

January

1. Christianity in India, Richard E. Frykenburg, Oxford. An interesting read, especially if one wants a bird’s eye view of the major events affecting Christianity in India. Probably a bit too sympathetic, but displays a very deep understanding of India by the author.

2. The Tropics and The Travelling Gaze, David Arnold, Permanent Black. Another in a series of books that I’m reading on the history of science in colonial India. Quite a good book, it shows how science (here botany) played an important role in building of Empires, along with bureaucracies and militaries. Though I’m uneasy with some psychoanalysis like passages in the book, it is quite interesting for the experienced student of colonial history.

March

3. The Meaning of Tango, Christine Denniston,  Anova Books. An interesting look into what Tango meant to those who danced it in the Golden Age of Tango (c. 1935-55). There is something about everything, the motivations, music, dance, dancers, technique and the social context. The author’s indifference/dislike for what is known as Tango Nuevo (or New Tango) is apparent, but since the book is not about Tango after the 50s, does not matter.

April

4. The Earth System and the World System, Alf Hornborg and Carole Crumley (Eds.), Prentice Hall India. A collection of papers from a conference which tried to find common ground for interaction and scholarship across the natural-social divide. Some papers are interesting, though they are important (for me atleast) mainly for the data/case studies  rather than ideas themselves.

5. A History of Civilizations, Fernand Braudel, Penguin. Originally written as a textbook for high school, the book is a good ‘Story of the World upto now’. Strongly humanistic, which eclipses environmental issues (which were probably not high on his mind when he wrote this), but helps put a lot of things into context, especially what Braudel thinks are the essential features of each civilization, from African to Asian to European.

6. Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis, Verso Books. A fantastic account of how climate and colonialism worked in a fiendish synergy to impoverish and ‘underdevelop’ previously productive areas around the world. The book focuses on China, India and Brazil, and identifies the policies and structural factors (political, economic and ecological) which went into ‘constructing’ the great famines of the late nineteenth century. Very well written as well. Highly recommended.

June

7. Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia, David Arnold and Ramachandra Guha (Eds.), Penguin. Great collection of essays from many prominent historians. Covers a lot of ground, though the focus seems to be largely in the colonial era.

December

8. Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India, Aseem Shrivastava and Ashish Kothari, Penguin Viking. A great book if you are looking for something like an intelligent guide to what’s happening in India. Lots of things I had not thought about, especially on the economics side.

9. Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser, Penguin. An urban economist’s view as to why cities are the best way ahead for humanity. I don’t agree, but if you want to understand how cities tick, read this. It has great insights about the rise and fall of cities.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow. — Some dude.

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