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In Spite Of The Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India Hardcover – 24 Aug 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st Edition edition (24 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316729817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316729819
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

IN SPITE OF THE GODS is some way ahead of the game. Luce is a highly perceptive and intelligent writer and, unusually, he understands how India works. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Luce delivers genuine insight and revealing observations among the exhaustive facts, interviews and history (METRO)

Engrossing... Instead of standing loftily above the action, Luce gets in among the people to reveal the results of economic policy at street level... A wonderfully engaging portrait of India (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

A brilliant, bracingly uncondescending introduction to the new India in its many-layered modernity, written with perceptiveness, humour and respect (SCOTSMAN)

Book Description

MAXIMUM CITY meets A MILLION MUTINIES NOW -- the definitive book on modern India by the ex-South Asia correspondent for the Financial Times.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By mrs_chefe on 29 Sep 2006
Format: Hardcover
Edward Luce's style is clear and concise, producing a readable and informative book based on his personal experience of living in India and working as a journalist for the FT. He offers his insight into how modern India has evolved out of the policies of Gandhi and Nehru; its relationship to the rest of the world and its uneasy connection with Pakistan.

He describes how British rule introduced a bureaucracy which has developed into one with considerable power within the country; frequently to the disadvantage of the poorest in society who are unable to benefit from government interventions aimed at supporting them as funds are invariably diverted into the pockets of the burra sahibs.

He gives an illuminating account of the rise of the BJP and its influence on the Hindu-Muslim relationship. All is not quite as it seems, however, and he also describes the inter relationship of various Muslim groups and the complicated political manoeuvring between the parties that this produces.

Whether you agree with everything he writes, it is a great insight into how India is developing into a super power along with China, which will alter the balance of world power in the 21st century. If you have an interest in India and its status in today's world, this is an excellent book to invest time with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 28 Dec 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whatever your views on his perspective, this is a well researched and, most of the time, a superbly written book. I add the clause because I felt that sometimes the detail got in the way of the flow of the prose. Some reviews have criticized Luce's use of interviews but these feel truthful; and writing from experience gives a book a depth that 'facts' along cannot.

When the book takes off in chapters 4 and 5 it is amongst the most lucid accounts I have read about India. It chimes with my experience and explains some of the progress I have seen in Delhi and how individual politicians can make a difference.

If there is any chance of a paperback version perhaps some thought should be given to some judicious editing because I feel that amidst the detail there is an absolute classic, admittedly more personal, account of modern India trying to get out.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Parvati P. on 4 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
Edward Luce has written a very readable uptodate account. He has done his research and sometimes produces some interesting analysis, although he sometimes goes alarmingly far back in history to make some points. However I get the feeling he spent too much time interviewing the political and business elites, and did not really see the rise of the middle class in the towns. Hence he does not understand the true India and what makes it ticks. He makes the point that its not `the economy, stupid' that matters in India, but the politics. Actually, its not `the politics, stupid' it is the society, and he has little insight into this.

Luce makes some interesting comparisons with China and has an illuminating chapter on foreign affairs but his shopping-list of recommendations on how to put India on the right track domestically are simply laughable, and even downright arrogant, displaying a complete disregard for how the electorate might perceive any of his recommendations, eg. increasing the price of electricity and water. The now defunct and discredited Enron went bellyup in India under just such a delusion, and he, as a Financial Times journalist should know this.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 9 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a readable work by somebody who's comfortable of competently discussing both economics and sociology at a fairly knowledgeable level, though for old hand with India there's nothing much new or original here. For someone however who knows little about modern India one could do worse than choose this book as a starting point. It discusses a wide range of issues from globalisation to religious and communal violence and the author records his conversations with some of the key players. All in all a good read but perhaps a little basic, serves more as an introduction rather than a text where great insight is to be gotten.
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By cynic on 1 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback
Overall a readable book and gives good insight into the ground reality of Indian life at various levels. Author's objectivity slips up however while dealing with Hindu Nationalism and BJP as he spews vitriol in the chapter on Imaginary horse. He is candid enough to admit his visceral hatred for Hindu nationalism in the last chapter though. There are also a number of gross factual errors whenever he goes back into Hindu history to substantiate his argument.
i was going to give this book 5 stars till the imaginary horse chapter messed it up big time.
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Format: Paperback
Edward Luce is a noted journalist for the "Financial Times" (of London). He completed this timely and authoritative work in 2006. Global power relations are changing at a remarkable pace. The economies of China and India, in particular, are ascendant, with roughly 10% annual growth rates. And as most of us in the West know, at best, our own economies are stagnant. Luce is no "parachute journalist," completing a quick two-week tour of a country with a billion plus people, and then pounding out a book. India is very much his home. He has lived there for numerous years, has traveled extensively within the country over that period, and has even married an Indian. With the decline of foreign bureaus in the journalist world - bottom line cost cutting measures - such extensive knowledge of a particular country by a foreigner becomes rarer and rarer. A significant premium should be placed on his experience, and the wisdom obtained from it. I felt my own knowledge was significantly out-of-date; it was based largely on extensive travels in country in 1971, along with A.L. Basham's The Wonder That Was India (which Luce quotes extensively), and Ved Mehta's Portrait of India (which Luce does not reference). Luce has done an excellent job of filling in the last 40 years.

The author immediately drew me in on page 01 of his preface by focusing on the squandering of opportunities for the millions of Indians who live in the villages, and remain quite poor, despite the economic growth rate since the `90's. Luce frequently quotes India's Nobel Prize winning economist, Amartya Sen on developmental issues.
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