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India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra

India Since IndependenceIndia Since Independence by Bipin Chandra

My Rating★★★★☆

The book is supposed to be one of the most authoritative histories of the period, presented by a set of celebrated authors who were instrumental in authoring most of the text books of the academic curriculum (India). It is disappointing then to see that ideology colors even such a work. If you can stay away from the strong biases that run through most of the interpretative chapters, this is actually quite a good book read.

It provides a good contrast (counterpoint?) to Guha‘s history. It is quite stunning how history changes so radically from one book to the next. The two books tell of the same period but with such marked divergence. As a reader one can accept this transition with surprising ease since the story is not in the telling but in the leaving out, in the focusing of the searchlight on select incidents and in leaving the rest in the darkness. This strengthens my growing obsession with historiography and its many wonders. Has any fully illumined history of any period yet been written? I am yet to find one.

The next book in my romance with historiography might have some answers – History at the Limit of World-History. I am thoroughly excited to have stumbled on this one and am hoping to continue this review over there.

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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Book Reviews, Books, Philosophy, Thoughts

 

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On Free Will & Crime: How should society react to violent crime?

Free WillFree Will by Sam Harris

My Rating★★★☆☆

Glancing at the cover might have been more than enough to guess the full contents of this one…

Harris is right to an extent, but as many have already done, his argument is too easy to poke holes in. This is primarily because the argument depends on the definition/boundary that he imposes on it. It makes for a good argument in a monologue but will fall apart in a dialogue.

This is not to say that there is no merit in what he concludes on the basis of his hypothesis. He uses it to identify the true nature of crime and how society should react to it:

If sneezing was a crime and someone violated it, can we become riled enough about it to conduct mass protests? What if all (or most) violent crimes are like that at a fundamental level – involuntary? Can we move our justice system away from a system based on punishment to one based on correction/isolation. Can we start feeling fear and pity to offenders instead of anger and revenge? These threads make the book a must read, especially in the light of the mass hysteria that has gripped Delhi (and the whole nation) in the wake of the poor unnamed girl’s unfortunate death. Food for thought.

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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts

 

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