From the Ruins of Empire

The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
Length: 13 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: History, Asia
4.5 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A little more than a century ago, as the Japanese navy annihilated the giant Russian one at the Battle of Tsushima, original thinkers across Asia, working independently, sought to frame a distinctly Asian intellectual tradition that would inform and inspire the continent's anticipated rise to dominance. Asian dominance did not come to pass, and those thinkers - Tagore, Gandhi, and later Nehru in India; Liang Qichao and Sun Yatsen in China; Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Abdurreshi al Ibrahim in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire - are seen as outriders from the main anticolonial tradition. But Pankaj Mishra shows that it was otherwise in this stereotype-shattering book. His enthralling group portrait of like minds scattered across a vast continent makes clear that modern Asia's revolt against the West is not the one led by faith-fired terrorists and thwarted peasants but one with deep roots in the work of thinkers who devised a view of life that was neither modern nor antimodern, neither colonialist nor anticolonialist. In broad, deep, dramatic chapters, Mishra tells the stories of these figures, unpacks their philosophies, and reveals their shared goal of a greater Asia.

©2012 Pankaj Mishra (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Well-researched and crisply written, this scintillating work will help American readers understand the political and intellectual roots of Islamism and other non- and anti-Western thought in Asia today." ( Publishers Weekly)

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Breathtaking Scale, Cohesion and Vision of Asian History

As a former Christian worker in Central Asia for nearly a decade after the fall of Soviet Communism, I astonished by how little I understood of Asian animus against the West. My heart was torn since, in the name of “democracy and free market economy”, Western nations have mistreated the East so cruelly since since well before the 19th century. I gained a new appreciation for the hurt and indignation felt by Asians from the Middle East to the Pacific Islands. Thank you, Pankaj, for your fluid prose and comprehensive reading of heroic thinkers, philosophers and activists from the East. The extremely concise Epilogue in particular is written with unusual clarity and circumspection of Asia’s need for a new unifying vision apart from Western materialistic and consumptive self-centeredness. Derek Perkins’s narration is nothing short of masterful, even pronouncing foreign words in more than a dozen diverse languages with precision and beauty.

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Excellent Overview of Development of Modern Eastern Political Philosophy

Summarizes the prevailing attitude towards the West in Muslim and Asian countries that arose in response to imperialism and colonialism.

Provides an illuminating look into the mindset and worldview of non-Western peoples.

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Age of Anger is superior, but this is quite good

The level of genuinely novel synthesis Mishra offered in Age of Anger makes it the finer book, but I am grateful for this history of counter-imperialist intellectuals. The sentence craft and clarity are every bit as good in this book as his previous, and I learned a great deal from it as well. My only real regret is that Mishra confines his attention largely to Asia, and I think the book could have benefited by looking at African, Latin American, and First Nations intellectual responses to the model of Western modernity.