Almost a hundred years ago, Agatha Christie published an Hercule Poirot mystery, Death in the Air, which takes place on a flight from Paris to London. It may not be her most famous, but debut author Ram Murali has recycled the title for his whodunnit set mainly in the foothills of the Himalayas near Rishikesh—where the Beatles studied meditation—but also in small parts in London, Paris, and Bermuda.

Running and securing an empire can get expensive–especially one known for its opulence, like the Mughal Empire, which conquered much of northern India before rapidly declining in the 18th century. But how did the Mughals get their money? Often, it was through wealthy merchants, like the Jhaveri family, who willingly—and then not-so-willingly–funded the empire’s activities.

Discovering India Anew: Out of Africa to Its Early History, Alan Machado (Prabhu) (Orient BlackSwan, June 2024)
Discovering India Anew: Out of Africa to Its Early History, Alan Machado (Prabhu) (Orient BlackSwan, June 2024)

Where does one begin to tell a story that spans many thousands of years, a story whose origins are obscured by stubborn mists that will not lift and enduring myths that will not shift under the weight of ages of telling Discovering India Anew reconstructs the history of Indian peoples, taking off from where the history of Indians really begins: Africa. Exploring their earliest journey out of Africa through the colonization of South Asia by different genetic groups to the end of South Asia’s first urban civilisation, Harappa, and the arrival of the Indo-Aryans, the author asks a fundamental question: Who are we Indians?

The title (and cover) of Andrew Hillier’s new book The Alcock Album: Scenes of China Consular Life 1843-1853 might lead one to think that it is primarily a collection of drawings and paintings; but while the volume is indeed profusely-illustrated, it is rather more a biography of Henrietta Alcock, the wife of Rutherford Alcock, one of the first British consuls in the treaty ports of Xiamen, Fuzhou and Shanghai in the years immediately after the First Opium War. Both were, as it turns out, proficient at both sketching and watercolors. 

China is often seen by its peer economies as a problem. Yet, as far as climate change is concerned, Joanna Lewis writes in a new book, China has the potential to be part of the solution. Lewis, a distinguished professor at Georgetown University, highlights the importance of national bilateral cooperation with China in Cooperating for the Climate and explores China’s rise in green innovation and its growing role in international clean energy partnerships. Despite evident challenges, Lewis argues that fostering such collaborations is in the interest of the US and the world.

Ginkgo Village Trauma and Transformation in Rural China, Tamara Jacka (ANU Press, June 2024)
Ginkgo Village: Trauma and Transformation in Rural China, Tamara Jacka (ANU Press, June 2024)

Ginkgo Village provides an original and powerfully intimate bottom-up perspective on China’s recent tumultuous history. Drawing on ethnographic and life-history research, the book takes readers deep into a village in a mountainous region of central-eastern China known as Eyuwan.