From Pankaj Mishra, author of the successful "Temptations of the West" and "Butter Chicken in Ludhiana", comes a provocative account of how China, India and the Muslim World are remaking the world in their own image. The Victorian period, viewed in the West as a time of self-confident progress, was experienced by Asians as a catastrophe. As the British gunned down the last heirs to the Mughal Empire, burned down the Summer Palace in Beijing, or humiliated the bankrupt rulers of the Ottoman Empire, it was clear that for Asia to recover a vast intellectual effort would be required. Pankaj Mishra's fascinating, highly entertaining new book tells the story of a remarkable group of men from across the continent who met the challenge of the West. Incessantly travelling, questioning and agonising, they both hated the West and recognised that an Asian renaissance needed to be fuelled in part by engagement with the enemy. Through many setbacks and wrong turns, a powerful, contradictory and ultimately unstoppable series of ideas were created that now lie behind everything from the Chinese Communist Party to Al Qaeda, from Indian nationalism to the Muslim Brotherhood. Mishra allows the reader to see the events of two centuries anew, through the eyes of the journalists, poets, radicals and charismatics who criss-crossed Europe and Asia and created the ideas which lie behind the powerful Asian nations of the twenty-first century.
Pankaj Mishra is the author of Butter Chicken in Ludiana, The Romantics, An End to Suffering and Temptations of the West. He writes principally for the Guardian, The New York Times, London Review of Books and New York Review of Books. He lives in London, Shimla and New York.