Bangladesh: Politics, Economy and Civil Society Paperback – 9 Feb 2012
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'This is a well-researched book that will be of use to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as to researchers whose work involves South Asia in general or Bangladesh in particular. The book is well organised and clearly argued. It is divided into consumable segments for those interested in a specific topic, though the author has also stitched a coherent and persuasive narrative from these parts … This book addresses the need for a political economy informed analysis of Bangladesh. It delivers a strong basis for anyone interested in this overused character, providing readers with a clear path to what would otherwise take years of reading, research and analysis.' Brian Robert Cook, Area
Since its hard-won independence from Pakistan, Bangladesh has been ravaged by economic and environmental disasters. Only recently has the country begun to emerge as a fragile, but functioning, parliamentary democracy. The story of Bangladesh, told through the pages of this concise and readable book, is a truly remarkable one.See all Product Description
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a) how this strategically situated Asian country of more than one hundred sixty million people has evolved and reached its present situation,
b) what now needs to be focused on and overcome in order to continue a transition to a sustained and equitable growth, and
c) how an effective civil society is coming into being to help articulate and implement effective policies and nudging the state towards taking the action required to reach these goals.
A clearly written and engaging narrative, provides valuable nuggets of critical knowledge and trends. It provides a balanced view, with an objectivity and depth that is missing in other more superficial treatments. As a result, the book should appeal to the hearts and minds of a wide variety of Bangladeshi and international readers.
There are very few examples of an integrated book that coherently threads together a realistic picture of Bangladesh. This book is an intelligent and up to date compendium of information. It provides a factual description complemented with insightful commentary to help us understand the rich and complex history of Bangladesh, its transition from a 'basket case' economy in the 1970s to becoming one of the Goldman Sachs 'next eleven' growth economies that have been achieving a year on year GDP growth rate of over six percent.
Finally, the book also discusses the evolution of a civil society that is helping to play an essential role as catalyst for the growth and positive change. Based on facts and research supported by over one hundred cited sources, the book leaves the reader with the distinct impression and touch of a highly knowledgeable expert on Bangladesh, a product of the author's research and observation in Bangladesh over a long period.
To summarize, this book cogently articulates current political, economic and social concerns and one hopes that the picture that it paints will also contribute to critical thinking and meaningful action in the future.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Bangladesh.
Yet this fascinating country, so important economically and strategically, is poorly understood in the US and Europe and people wishing to acquaint themselves with its history, politics, economics, and environment have long been frustrated by the lack of a good book that describes contemporary Bangladesh. David Lewis has relieved this frustration with an outstanding and much-needed book suitable both for academics studying Bangladesh and for members of the general public who want to understand this nation. Lewis's book makes an excellent companion to Willem van Schendel's excellent "A History of Bangladesh" Van Schendel masterfully covers the Bengal Delta and Bangladesh from the dawn of history through Bangladesh's independence in 1971 and the first decade or so of independence. But from the early 1980s on, van Schendel speeds through the last three decades of Bangladesh's history in a way that leaves the reader wanting a clearer and more focused account of the remarkable transformations the nation has seen in the last three decades.
This is where Lewis steps in. Building on van Schendel's framework of describing the Bengal delta as "a region of multiple frontiers" comprising land-water, linguistic, agrarian, political, and religious boundaries, Lewis weaves together the interactions between linguistic, religious, political, economic, demographic, and environmental aspects of the recent history of Bangladesh. Lewis does a masterful job of weaving these threads together while keeping the reader clear on the chronology of events and lucidly explaining difficult technical concepts.
This book is very readable, clear, well organized, insightful, and well documented with citations to other literature. Following up on Lewis's excellent bibliography has been one of the many great pleasures of reading this book. The book works both as a narrative history, to be read from beginning to end, and as a concise reference for facts and figures about the changing economy and demographics of Bangladesh.
When I first read this book, I got so excited that I opened an email to several friends and ended up staying up hours past my bedtime typing in excerpts and synopses. Each time I thought I would put the book aside and go to sleep, I found one more thing I had to tell someone about before I went to sleep.
I recommend this book enthusiastically to anyone who wants a clear, thoughtful, well-researched introduction to the history of Bangladesh since its liberation, and especially the dramatic economic and political transformation of the last 20 years.
Taught me a lot
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