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The Failure of Political Islam
The Failure of Political Islam
by Olivier Roy
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why cannot be Islam accepted like Christianity in the West?, 24 Sept. 2013
Why cannot be Islam accepted like Christianity in the West? Is it because Islam and politics don't mix or is Islam actually a culture in itself?

West has used two methods to deal with Muslim minority, multiculturalism and assimilation. Multiculturalism assumes that the culture remains the same, generation after generation while assimilation means that culture disappears in the mainstream.

The book has probably the best description of Islam-ism and new-fundamentalism I have read thus far.

Check this out, 'Since sovereignty belongs only to God, the Islamists reject the notion of popular sovereignty and accord only contingent value to the elective principle. If no individual comes forward as the evident 'Amir', then he can be elected by an advisory assembly or even by universal suffrage, both of which, in this case, do not express sovereignty, but community consensus.'
Wow, so that's the reason why the Islamists reject all politics and populism movements. Scary stuff, if you hail from Pakistan. But there is good news as well, as most of the leaders of the movement, Maududi, Hasan al-Banna, Syed Qutub, Ali Shariati, Khomeini are dead, with no real decedents leaving only brochures, prayers, feeble glosses and citations of canonical authors. It had to happen when you consider all the leading Islamists apart from Khomeini did not hail from the Ulema heritage, and spent most of their energies taking down Ulema, it seems logical that their fans and supporters had to reject any of their descendants. Relax Pakistanis, this is only a passing phase. Check out some of the should-be assertions coming out of the current Islamic mouthpiece, 'if everyone is virtuous then harmony automatically exists among men.' Also 'there is no requirement of state, if society is virtuous then it can exist on itself.' And 'in Jihad, there is no obligation to produce result.' The trouble is that Islamists are caught in the vicious cycle of 'no Islamic state without virtuous Muslims, no Muslims without Islamic state?' I am pretty enough individual dialogue will expose the weakness of Islamic dialogue. The book also explains the ideology of the new-fundamentalist, their hate of Western clothing, sports and especially their isolation, where even non-Muslims greeting them with Asalamu alaikum is frowned upon. They also tend to reject any participation of women in politics and shun intellectual research, replacing it with fideism (reliance on faith), which means that everything Islam says is true and rational.
And what constitutes of a new intellectual of the new fundamentalists? According to Olivier, 'The new intellectual is a mere tinkerer; he creates a montage, as his personal itinerary guides him, of segments of knowledge, using methods that come from a different conceptual universe than the segments he recombines, creating a totality that is more imaginary than theoretical.'
I have found his analysis very relevant and practical when I consider my numerous dialogues with these new intellectuals. Objective analysis like these are instrumental in understanding ever shifting trends in current Islamic thought which are become ever more difficult to grasp in dearth of any literary giants of the now defunct Islamism movement.
The book concludes with a prophetic analysis, how can new fundamentalism succeed when it's predecessor giant Islamists failed to change the mainstream Muslims? The constant hatred and rejection of Western culture is a mere attempt at recognition, with an element of fascination. A fundamentalist society does not represent hated of the other, but rather of oneself and of one's desires. He goes on further, Islamisation is actually an agent in the secularisation of Muslim society because it brings the religious space into the political arena. Wow, what an analysis. Olivier cites Islamic Iran as an example where religious practices are on the down.


The Jewel In The Crown (The Raj Quartet)
The Jewel In The Crown (The Raj Quartet)
by Paul Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, simply wonderful, 24 Sept. 2013
Will there be any other writer capable of understanding the nuances of British rule in India other than Paul Scot, ever? The arguments and counter arguments for and against Indian Independence are very aptly presented in this wondrously weaved tale of forbidden love and misplaced loyalties in imperialist India. One aspect almost never talked about in factual history books was British reliance on diversity of opinions in British India, otherwise known as the divide and rule policy. On the other hand,factual history books in both India and Pakistan are filled with references to how British used Divide and Rule very effectively to prolong their hold over India. Simply put, British were happy to wait for the Indians to make up their minds as they carried on ruling India in the meantime. So good was this divide and rule policy that it made the British look like saints in comparison to the madness of the Hindu, Muslim divisions. As for the native population, they the Muslims and the Hindus and the Anglo-Indian Christians, were as much to blame for participating in this divide and rule policy, because without their ravenous optimism to engage with each other, the Policy would have been a failure.
Paul has somehow used a simple plot to produce a very engaging read which kept me intrigued, engaged and beguiled throughout as it circled around the same rape incident from different narrators over and over again, making the story very thought provoking and extremely holistic indeed.

Check this out as he summarizes the British strategy for prolonging their colonisation of India, 'deny people something they want over a longish period, and they naturally start disagreeing about precisely what it is they really wanted to do in the first place.'

Paul has presented probably the most honest and candid representation of the British and Indians just before Independence to date. They say you can learn a lot of the nature when placed as masters of another nation, and Paul has has done just that. This is a serious study of the British character as masters of a dark race.

I cannot wait to read his second book in the series.


Economyths: How the Science of Complex Systems is Transforming Economic Thought
Economyths: How the Science of Complex Systems is Transforming Economic Thought

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radical but I loved it., 24 Sept. 2013
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The book explains the relatively new science of economics as not a science in reality but as unpredictable as monkeys making bets in the money markets. The author does a fine job of explaining both ends of the economic approach with the markets clearly favouring the free-market approach as opposed to the other more controlled version. I mean who wouldn't? If I was a player in the money markets I would have loved to trade without any checks and balances. This book is written to change the perception of a serious marketplace but I suspect will not make a huge difference as money is money after all.


Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
by Maryanne Wolf
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars promises, promises, 24 Sept. 2013
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Book promises a lot but reads like a university dissertation. I think it is more geared towards professionals rather than amateur inquisitors


Sea of Poppies
Sea of Poppies
by Amitav Ghosh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Opium trade brought to life., 24 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Sea of Poppies (Paperback)
Fell in love with all the characters of this brilliant story set in the height of Opium trade. Always wondered why so little is talked about an era which is the corner stone of all modern corporations. The point is that while opium was widely used it was well understood in India and China. It was greed of the British East India Company which made this dangerous item into a commodity, making it a sexy hip thing to do. Amitav has managed to present the effect of this trade on the local population in a very lucid and engaging manner.


Court Confidential: Inside the World of Tennis
Court Confidential: Inside the World of Tennis
Price: £11.04

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very ordinary in terms of players profiles, 24 Sept. 2013
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The author himself points out the almost 'death' of tennis journalists due to Twitter and constant media coverage of tennis tournaments, and then follows up by writing a book with no real insights into the personal lives if super stars of the tennis world. Instead the author seems more impressed by the officials and organisers of the various tennis bodies hosting these events. Granted these administrators do a wonderful job at administrating tours and tournaments but the players are the real stars of the tennis show.
The book is a diary of sorts of a tennis journalist viewing from the court side of most of the big tournaments on the ATP circuit for the year 2012. It does have interesting stories about allocation of wild cards and UK tax laws which affect all foreign players playing in the UK, but for me falls shorts of any serious profiles of the players. There is also too much focus on British players in the book. All in all I found the book a pretty disappointing read.


The Force of Reason
The Force of Reason
by Oriana Fallaci
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.00

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time., 24 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Force of Reason (Hardcover)
There is a major problem when journalist turn into scholars. How do you not care about potential opprobrium having spent most of your career in the super ambitious world of journalism? As proof consider Oriana's very very long introduction to her book where she is defending her narrative before anyone has had a chance to read it yet. The introduction is thus setting herself up as a courageous academic, a lone voice among the countless others spineless herd which choose to ignore the threat which immigrant Muslims bring to Europe. She then states comparing all Islamic settlers in Europe without giving much of a thought to exactly where they hail from. So Indonesians are the same as Palestinians just because they are Muslim in her valued opinion. She also sees Muslims breeding like rabbits which will surely take over Europeans pretty soon. Where is the evidence that Muslims have taken over? In UK for instance most Muslim politicians have chosen to join the mainstream political parties instead of creating their own. So where is the threat as clearly majority of Muslims in UK want to be associated with the mainstream and not with any Sharia enforcing third party. In fact in UK there are a number of anti-Islamic political parties denouncing Muslim invaders in UK. Ever wondered why Pakistanis and Indians tend to invade UK only mainly Oriana? Because India was a former colony maybe similar to Algerians in France. Who was invading who? But this tiny little point does not seem to make it into Oriana's narrative as it is pretty irrelevant to her case.The truth is that majority Muslims are economic immigrants in Europe who choose to integrate withEuropean culture. There is a small minority who are fundamentalist. This book is written with that minority in view, a minority who is not even allowed to preach in most mosques! The only people really interested in the minority view is people like Oriana and mainstream media when they want to ostracise all of Islam with a wide brush. Oriana seems to have achieved her objective by selling quite a few of her very ordinary book. The real danger, fear is not Islamism, but sharing jobs and opportunities at the grass root level in Europe. What can the Muslims do when most of the world resources are plenty full in the West as compared to their own countries? Are the Muslims supposed to stay content where we are making 10% of what a similar worker gets in Europe? I myself am a modern Muslim invader in Oriana's Europea, but so far seemed to have only a quiver to write two books and improved my tennis over the 13 years of jihad. And no, I am not an exciting halal butcher, just an ordinary boring 9-5 IT worker, trying to provide the most for my two kids (not five) from my one wife.
I am afraid the critics are right Oriana, you were demonised for your highly one sided and prejudiced narrative, not for being courageous as plenty of others are openly attacking so called 'Islamic' invaders of Europe.
The book was a waste of my time. I did not find any balanced resonate argument in this 300 page book. It seemed to be ravings and ranting of an old woman, who goes on and on when given the pulpit.
Lastly, how can Oriana claim to be representing a beleaguered minority when her book has sold millions of copies in Italy?


Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum
Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum
by Stephen P. Cohen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much pessimism., 24 Sept. 2013
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Can India and Pakistan ever reconcile and move towards peace? The author has tried to answer this intractable conflict which he maintains is almost as bad as the Israel-Palestine issue!

Why in his opinion in our communications age of almost transparent people to people contact is the hate not disappearing? It could only mean that the people of both countries are susceptible to their respective countless propaganda which is stopping the relations from getting better.

He starts by establishing the context of the conflict. There were three forces vying for power in pre-partition India, the nationalist Congress, nationalist Muslim League and the separatist leaning Independent states, who never wanted to merge either with India or Pakistan. Cohen makes an important observation which as a Pakistani I can vouch for, 'important stories (of the great Partition) of members of both communities who helped and rescued members of different faiths are mostly undocumented. The great authors and cultural figures who recognised and opposed Partition to unmentioned. Even official history projects in both countries pay little attention to these stories and are devoted mainly to building national solidarity around negative distrust or hatred of another religious or ethnic community.' This atmosphere of mutual hate has created a strong prejudice against one another. Cohen makes very astute observations, India has taken the mantle of the Raj dominance, while Pakistan has adopted a defensive Israel like stance. While India shuns outside interference in this regards, Pakistan cultivates it actively. In fact Pakistan is expert in lobbying its defensive position, constantly reminding anyone who listens of its vulnerability and strategic position.
Cohen cites three major reasons for the animosity between India and Pakistan, water, Kashmir and Siachin, with no real tangible progress being made on either of the three issues. The only resolution achieved was on Rann of Kutch.
So what prevents India and Pakistan from peace? Cohen presents six reasons:-
Insecure and distrustful relationship.
Both sides threatened for their identities.
Time, both are sure that in time other will collapse.
Both act as victims.
Both feel morally superior to the other.
Inability to rely on outsiders to solve the impasse.
Overall Cohen is pretty pessimistic that any normalisation of relations can happen by 2047, but his last chapter is an appeal to the US government to be more proactive about initiating some meaningful dialogue between the two archaic enemies.


Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580
Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars What a vivid portrayal of wars at sea between Ottomans and Spanish., 24 Sept. 2013
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It takes but a single Turkish consonant to fall from makbul to maktul.

A great book on the straight sea fights between the Ottomans and Catholic King Charles of Spain. The book was surprisingly easy to follow as it had none of the dry bits usually attached to historical narratives. Most enjoyable bit was the fight between the great admirals Barbarossa and Doria. I loved the occasional side stories from the Sultan's palace to the Kings lair which kept me well captivated.I never imagined a colition between the French king Francis and a Muslim Sultan Sulaiman against their common foe Charles of Spain. The lust for power can indeed be overpowering as as anything seems to go.

The author has done a tremendous service to present a very vivid tale of a great struggle on the sea between Madrid and Istanbul, laced with detailed descriptions of dresses, sounds and arms. I loved the build up to the last battle in Lepanto and the crescendo achieved. I felt as if I was there myself. This is a great history book which is written in a very engaging manner and almost reads as a mythical story which goes to the credit of the author.


The Moghul
The Moghul
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Moghuls, brought to life again., 24 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Moghul (Kindle Edition)
Tonight we are many, but in battle the many are nothing. In battle there is only the one. Each of you is that one.' Shah Jehan. Thomas has done a masterly job of bringing alive a lost era of splendour and glory of the Muslim power in 16th century India. A time of absolute Moghul power which both the Portuguese and the English fighting sought after. They never dreamed of taking over India. All they were after was trading rights. Thomas has demonstrated great cultural insight of the time. Read and enjoy the game of chauker, savour the treat Moghul cuisine, lust at Indian love making, and engross yourself with palace intrigues. I found it impossible to disengage from this page turner.
One strand of the story has the protagonist desperately seeking some miraculous piece of knowledge which could make it easier on the Europeans come to parity with the Muslim world. Reminds me of myself now trying to do the same in the Europe, deep down there is a desire for making a signs any discovery to get the underdeveloped Muslims upto par with the mighty West. What a contrast of fortunes.

The book does a great job of presenting India as an independent and resplendent culture with able leaders. I particularly liked the very confident and astute Moghul leadership was portrayed in the book, as well as equally able Rajputs and Persians as powerful power brokers of the era.

A most wonderful tale indeed.

I emailed the author to ask him why he choose to re-name the great Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jehan in this tale, to which the answer was:

'I renamed them because I made up stuff enough that it was not a true biography. I didn't want to publish things I made up as though it were the true. In historical novels things just have to come out the way they did. You can be creative about how they got there. I know Shah Jahan got the idea for the Taj from the Udaipur lake palace but I made up how or why he did it. I don't think anybody alive now knows. I stole the concept from Shogun. Not many readers are like you and know or care. I'm pretty sure there wasn't an Englishman there playing the sitar. (Which I have played myself.)' Thomas Hoover (9-9-13).


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